Friday, November 2, 2018

National Environmental Science Center dedicated at Yosemite National Park

The premiere nature education campus – and interactive model of sustainability – was designed by Siegel & Strain Architects for NatureBridge and the National Park Service.

In October, the National Environmental Science Center was dedicated; the new campus by Siegel & Strain Architects will be the site of immersive environmental stewardship education for many. (Photograph: Siegel & Strain Architects)

EMERYVILLE, Calif., Nov. 1, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- On October 11, NatureBridge and the National Park Service held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to dedicate the National Environmental Science Center. The new Henness Ridge campus team is celebrating the completion of five of 17 buildings designed by Siegel & Strain Architects.

This is the culmination of a decade-long partnership in planning and design. Completed so far are a dining hall, bath house, two cabins, and a maintenance building. Additional buildings will include the main dining hall, classrooms, a fire station, more cabins, staff housing, and support facilities. Planning for the next phase will commence soon.

Each year, more than 15,000 students and teachers come to experience and learn from Yosemite National Park through outdoor science programs offered by NatureBridge. This new residential campus uses the latest sustainable design and energy conservation concepts with the site's inherent attributes to provide an interactive model of sustainability in which program participants can engage firsthand. The center is projected to be net zero energy; provide 60 percent water savings compared to conventional use; and minimize construction waste. The project is designed to attain a LEED Platinum rating.

The National Environmental Science Center features replicable green building technologies that students use while at camp and are ideas that they can take back to their schools and homes. (Rendering: Al Forster)

Architect Nancy Malone, AIA, who led the project for Siegel & Strain with Henry Siegel, FAIA, explained that the project was designed to reflect the natural conditions. "We hope it will inspire students by connecting them to this special setting, to the cultural tradition of rustic park design, and to the educational mission of environmental stewardship," Malone said.

Kristina Rylands, NatureBridge director of the Yosemite Campus, described how students will interact with this place: "This will be a permanent home for youth education in Yosemite -- one of the most iconic parks in the world," she said. "The grandeur of Yosemite allows students to become part of something larger than themselves. This new center will be a portal to self-discovery and a home for youth education for the next 100 years."

Phil Kilbridge, President/CEO of NatureBridge, said that this is a long-term investment in people and park. "The Center will enable transformative educational experiences in the outdoors for more than one million kids in its first 50 years," he said. "It is more than a campus, it is a declaration – that our parks belong to all of us, and that these experiences are essential to the health of our children and planet."

The design team developed formal and informal learning spaces to foster environmental literacy using visible and interactive sustainable design strategies. Students will learn from different types of photovoltaic panels, local and renewable materials, and interactive monitoring systems for greywater harvesting and renewable energy. The center integrates the latest design and energy efficiency concepts to provide a model of sustainability that, with 100% universal access, will allow all participants to interface with the next level of experiential education.

At the ceremony, Yosemite National Park Superintendent Mike Reynolds put the project into context: "Many people are familiar with legacy projects in our parks," he said. "The National Environmental Science Center is a legacy project for the next 100 years."

About NatureBridge
Founded in 1971, NatureBridge connects young people to the wonder and science of the natural world, igniting self-discovery and inspiring stewardship of our planet. As the largest residential education partner of the National Park Service, the organization serves more than 35,000 students each year and offers programs in six national parks: Yosemite National Park, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Olympic National Park, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Channel Islands National Park and Prince William Forest Park.

About Yosemite National Park
Not just a great valley, but a shrine to human foresight, the strength of granite, the power of glaciers, the persistence of life, and the tranquility of the High Sierra. First protected in 1864, Yosemite National Park is best known for its waterfalls, but within its nearly 1,200 square miles, you can find deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area, and much more.

To view the original press release, click this link.