Visitor and Conference Center
The Visitor and Conference Center is part of a larger initiative of an Industrial Alliance to design and construct a near-zero emission coal-fueled power plant in Midwestern US. Situated in a community park, the new Visitor, Research and Training Center will showcase this innovative technology through interactive exhibits, classroom/training spaces, and research facilities. The 48,000 SF building will also provide community amenities (auditorium, amphitheatre and event space) that will help ensure the long-term relevance and sustainability of the facility.
Formally, the building evokes the progressive mission of the owner. A suspended, metal-clad organic form defines main public spaces and breaks from the rectilinear geometries of the city, in response to the more informal organization of the park. The open, glazed ground level invites the park space seamlessly into the building, while the metallic form above subtly reflects the sky and natural surroundings. An extensive lower level reduces the building footprint and minimizes the impact on the park, while blurring the boundary between traditional notions of architecture and landscape. The exhibit area lies beneath an earth mound that rises gently from the ground plane, working in concert with an amphitheatre/swale form related to the auditorium to the west and allowing the surface of the park to be used in a variety of ways, such as for performances and festivals.
Sustainable practices-including daylight harvesting, a geothermal exchange system, and green roof areas-are integral to the design approach for this LEED Gold targeted facility.