old faithful education center, yellowstone national park, leed gold, green building, sustainable architectureImage © Justin Lubke/Yellowstone Park Foundation

Since four out of every five visitors to the National Park make a stop to see Old Faithful spout into the air, the education center does its best to keep the famed geyser in the limelight. As you enter the facility, beautiful 36.5-foot-high pentagonal windows frame the geyser outside, reminding visitors of the reason they’re there.

The educational facility, designed by CTA Architects of Billings Montana, was built to open the minds of the 3 million annual visitors to the wonders of the park. The architecture reflects the look of the surrounding buildings, especially the Old Faithful Inn, which was built in 1904.

Lead Image © Justin Lubke/Yellowstone Park Foundation

old faithful education center, yellowstone national park, leed gold, green building, sustainable architecture
Image © Shasta Grenier/Yellowstone Park Foundation

Construction started on the $27 million center back in 2008 and the builders paid extra special attention to the site, considering that it’s located in a National Park. The old center was demolished, most of the material was recycled, and then the new center was built in its stead. Due to the seismic and geothermal activity of the area, the building’s foundation was both shallow to minimize disturbance, but also robust enough to withstand seismic activity. Inside the new center is a bookstore, a gift shop, a theater for introductory films, a research area and a 4,500-square-foot exhibition space.

The Yellowstone Park Foundation, the non-profit behind the project, did its best to make sure that the project is light on the environment and they were awarded with their efforts with a LEED Gold certification. The center is one of the first National Park Service visitor centers to achieve this Gold rating. Besides recycling construction waste, the center has an energy and water-efficient design, uses eco-friendly building materials like recycled steel, and features efficient lighting and climate control systems.

+ CTA Architects

+ Yellowstone Park Foundation

+ Old Faithful Visitor Center