Friday, July 31, 2009

Grand Teton National Park Building- LEED Platinum

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Completion date: 2008, Carney Architects, Jackson, Wyoming

Part of my summer vacation, besides visiting family and friends, is always spent exploring and enjoying the beautiful area I grew up in. I make it a point to make at least one voyage into the park every trip, and this year my focus was on touring the first LEED Platinum park building.

The Interpretive Center and its related trails represents a gift of an 1,100 acre inholding of land on the shores of Phelps Lake from Laurance S. Rockefeller to the National Park Service to benefit and educate the public. The meditation space, complete with rain and thunder soundtrack was interesting, as were the videos showing the park in all the seasons with close-ups of animals you may or may not get the chance to see up close. My favorite, though, was the reading room with comfortable chairs to relax and explore the many books about the park and the eco-systems in it.

The 7,000-square-foot building is self-guiding, with the goal of awakening the senses so that visitors may gain a heightened appreciation of the surrounding landscape. The building advances environmental responsibility, with sustainable materials and methods employed in all aspects of the design, from the building itself to every piece of furniture, also designed by Carney Architects. This building is the first to achieve LEED-Platinum status in the National Park Service and in Wyoming.

I loved this unique drinking fountain design- stainless steel pipe surrounded by rusted iron and drilled through a large boulder.

Directly behind the discovery center are several trails with beautiful viewing "nooks" overlooking the creek. We saw bear scratches on aspen trees, and a pine marten- up close and personal. He was too quick to snap a picture, though.

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