The Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex Visitor Center project involved the design of a 5,500 square foot facility, outdoor gathering spaces, and adjacent parking areas. The building is located in a beautiful wooded area of the refuge with pedestrian access to an adjacent pond and twelve miles of hiking trails. Playing off the “Family of Buildings” that Oak Point designed for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, this facility has the look of a connected farm building nestled into a pine grove.
The facility has a light-filled lobby space with exposed wood beams and a wood deck ceiling. The exhibit hall has a similar feeling and is punctuated with dramatic truss-work enlivening the ceiling plane. A multipurpose room can be used to entertain a crowd or be divided to educate a small group of students. Office space for refuge staff rounds out the facility.
The building showcases numerous cutting-edge sustainable building technologies. It is heated and cooled using a high-efficiency geothermal heat pump system. Occupancy sensors, LED lighting and generous insulation help to reduce energy demand. Recycled content materials were specified to reduce the impact on the environment and nontoxic materials help to ensure the health and wellbeing of the building occupants. Recovery Act funding was also used to make this a zero-energy building, funding a solar energy project at the site. Instead of traditional solar panels, a thin photovoltaic (PV) film graces the roof at the state of the art facility.
As a separate project, Oak Point Associates redesigned Winterberry Way, the road leading to the visitor center. An ornamental entrance gate, fencing and landscaping at the entrance, all-hours parking lot with solar-powered lighting, trail kiosk, and multi-use pathway were designed, in addition to the road itself.
The visitor center is a destination that provides exhibits and information about the eight refuges of the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge and the 95-million acre National Wildlife Refuge System. In addition, the visitor center provides a starting point for individuals to participate in opportunities for environmental education and wildlife observation.