Aldo Leopold Legacy Center
by Kevin Matthews
"That land is a community is the basic concept of ecology, but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics." — Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, 1949
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Located on land that Aldo Leopold loved, deep in the mid-Wisconsin countryside at Baraboo, not far from the Wisconsin Dells, the graceful buildings of the new Aldo Leopold Legacy Center house the guardians of his legacy with a warm and gentle, yet astringent, almost Shakeresque simplicity of beautiful form and construction.
Certified LEED Platinum in 2007, the Leopold Center incorporates wood grown and harvested on-site. Because of construction scheduling complications — as well as an extremely deep commitment to the project — Leopold Foundation members, neighbors, and the staff who now occupy the structures logged and peeled a significant portion of the wood used in the 12,000-square-foot (1,100-square-meter) complex.
Kubala Washatko Architects of Cedarburg, Wisconsin, arranged the buildings in a composition of two facing ells, together defining a pair of open courtyard spaces. The chaste-while-earthy buildings balance inside and outside elegantly, with narrow wings, open or creatively partitioned interiors, and generous glazing. Most of the exterior siding is oak and ash boards harvested sustainably on-site.
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