Page E2.1 . 14 March 2007                     
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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.

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    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

    ArchWeek Image

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

     

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