It has always been my thinking when approaching a new building project that the site is all important and is the critical beginning of the design process. I like to know and understand the land and spend time on site walking around it and sitting at various points looking out over it.
Last month I was traveling through Wisconsin on my way to my parents place and my childhood home. I have passed by the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge many times over the years but had not visited for a very long time. I have always thought of stopping but I am always pressed for time. On this beautiful autumn day I decided to make a visit. I turned off the busy highway and stopped to look at the maps and information about the area. I really was on the hunt for the endangered Whooping Crane. I found according to the information that the area was indeed home to the Whooping Crane, Sand Hill Crane, two wolf packs, and the Karner Blue Butterfly. Wow I was excited! The information said it was several miles into the visitor center. The several mile trip took me through many diverse types of landscapes and habitat. Tree lined areas of big old oak trees, wet lands and barrens. As I came out of the heavily tree lined area the landscape opened up to beautiful golden open land. I followed the signs and proceeded through the gate. I was immediately awestruck by the architecture of the visitor center. I could not wait to park grab the camera and get out of the truck. I just stood and gazed at the detail of the design, the various elements and how remarkably it took in all the elements of the land and fit in.
Starting with the photos of the land, the Visitors Center looks out over barrens and wet lands with big oak trees on the far perimeter. This of course is in the fall, in the spring these barrens are filled with wild Lupine and a variety of wild flowers. I like the way the design of the building fits in with the landscape. The one part being low and of the prairies and the other part more farm house and what that part of Wisconsin is about. The color and selection of texture is so perfect, soft cream color with soft colors of natural stone, with the accent color of red. It also speaks of the environment and the importance of being earth friendly. The solar panels and the use of windows to bring in natural light and also the clerestory windows brought nice light into the interior.
I am sorry I did not take any photos of the interior, which was also stunning and very well designed for it’s function. When I visit in the spring I will spend more time investigating the interior and of course the wildlife areas.
I have not been this inspired by a piece of architecture in a long time. I will stick to my ideals about how the building should relate to the land! I hope that one day I can have the opportunity to create something this inspirational.