Visitor centers are meant to open people's eyes up and help educate them about an important topic or place. The Minnesota Valley Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center in Carver, MN does exactly that and more. Designed by Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd. (MS&R) to take in the natural beauty of the Minnesota river through strategically framed views, the visitor center also educates people aboute the local ecosystem and the advantages of energy efficiency. The facility meets the goals of the 2030 Challenge using 57.7% less energy than the Department of Energy’s baseline and has a 57.4% smaller carbon footprint.
Completed in 2008, the 12,800 square foot facility provides opportunities for visitors and education groups to learn about the unique wildlife conservation efforts of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The building was part of a site restoration project and development of trails for visitors to make use of. MS&R designed viewing portals framed in rusted steel to take advantage of views of the riverbed, restored prairie, native burr oaks, and the historic farmhouse nearby.
The facility was also designed to be energy efficient and uses considerably less energy than the Department of Energy’s baseline. Energy use is minimized due to a geothermal heating and cooling system, a heat exchanger, and on demand hot water. Materials for the building include natural, recycled, FSC certified, and low VOC products. Due to the sustainable strategies employed, the U.S. Department of Energy and Federal Interagency Energy Policy Committee awarded the visitor center with a 2009 Federal Energy and Water Management Award.
Structural Engineer:Meyer, Borgman, and Johnson, Inc. (MBJ)
MEP/FP Engineer: Karges-Falcoubridge, Inc. (KFI), Mechanical/Electrical Engineers
Landscape Architect: Close Landscape Architecture
Lighting Designer: Carla Gallina, Project Lighting Designer
Interior Designer: Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd. (MS&R)
Contractor: Gunderson Construction, General Contractor
Civil Engineer/Surveyor: Barr Engineering Company
Cost Consultant: CPMI
Images: ©Pete Sieger