Page E1.1 . 28 February 2007                     
ArchitectureWeek - Environment Department
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Environmental Center in Georgia

by ArchitectureWeek

Architects designing educational centers for environmental organizations bear a special responsibility to make their medium part of the message. The new Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center (GEHC) in Buford, Georgia, designed by Lord, Aeck & Sargent, is a lesson in itself about energy and water conservation.

Through its programs and interactive exhibits, the GEHC teaches children and adults about the importance of water, its influence on the region's history and everyday life, and the water-management challenges coming in the future.

To support this educational mission, the 59,000-square-foot (5,500-square-meter) center features a wide array of sustainable design strategies and is projected to use 75 percent less potable water and 35 percent less energy than a conventional building of the same size. The architects expect the building to achieve LEED-Gold-certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The building site features a creek, constructed wetlands, a forest amphitheater, two covered pavilions, granite rock outcroppings, diverse native plant communities, and 10 miles (16 kilometers) of trails.

John Starr, AIA, the Lord, Aeck & Sargent project principal in charge recalls: "At the beginning of our design process, we looked at the 233-acre (94-hectare) site with the owner and landscape architect to identify a project site that would minimize the need for grading and that would maintain most of the existing tree canopy for shading."   >>>

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Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center in Buford, Georgia, designed by Lord, Aeck & Sargent.
Photo: Jonathan Hillyer/ Atlanta

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Children learn about their relationship to water and the rest of the natural environment.
Photo: Jonathan Hillyer/ Atlanta


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