Oak Point Associates designed a facility to meet the needs and program requirements of the staff at the visitor center located in the Nulhegan Basin Division of the Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge. The facility encourages the public to experience the wilderness and natural beauty of the Nulhegan Basin in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, and became a model for other refuges with similar staffing requirements and public visitation population.
This project was the second of a prototype design (by Oak Point Associates) for refuge facilities intended to enhance interactive and educational opportunities. The project included a 6,000sf Refuge Administrative Building/Visitor Center with parking and pedestrian facilities, underground utilities, and on-site water supply and wastewater disposal on a challenging site overlooking the Basin. Working closely with Fish and Wildlife staff, Oak Point Associates achieved the project goals of low-maintenance, sustainable, and attractive design with minimal impact to the natural environment, including compliance with strict scheduling and budget constraints.
Oak Point Associates used the vernacular language of the connected farm building to appeal to a broad range of contexts and sites. Flexibility was designed into the lobby space so that the building could respond to a variety of topographic constraints. A welcoming front porch softens the transition from interior to exterior. Post and beam construction creates dramatic public spaces. Offices are arranged to take advantage of natural light and views.
Energy efficient fixtures and equipment were specified to keep operating costs low and to reduce the facility’s impact on the environment. Materials were selected based on their local availability, non-toxic ingredients and recycled content.