Environmentally conscious Architecture: A visitors center for the nature conservancy



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Texas Tech University


A building constructed of "green" materials and addressing its mechanical requirements by utilizing sun, wind, water, earth and biology reduces its negative impact on the planet's resources; this approach also has the potential to make a positive effect on the site's ecology.

Green materials are those whose extraction, manufacture, use and post-demolition destination are considered to have a lower negative ecological impact than some more conventional and toxic materials. Small-scale solar power, hydro power and wind power have the ability to meet electrical needs without producing the excessive pollution associated with traditional fossil or nuclear electrical production technologies. Wind and ventilation using the Venturi effect, passive solar design, passive cooling and geothermal energy can be used to regulate the interior temperature and humidity of a building and make it energy efficient. Biological processes can be used to treat wastewater to return it directly to the site as nutrient-rich water suitable for irrigation. Reuse of inherent energy in waste products provides the nutrients to improve the natural resources of the site. Utilizing these techniques eliminates dependence on established infrastructure that is reliant on non-renewable resources, responsible for a significant portion of pollution and limits potential sites.

The facility will be a visitor's center in the Aravaipa Canyon Preserve in Arizona, 90 miles northeast of Tucson. The 7000-acre preserve has an arid climate at an elevation of 2800-6150 feet. A flowing stream provides the preserve with a biologically diverse riparian forest. Fish, birds, bighorn sheep and mountain lions are among the animals protected by this preserve owned by the Nature Conservancy. The preserve is adjacent to the Aravaipa Wilderness Area, an extremely sensitive ecosystem administered by the Bureau of Land Management.

The Wilderness Area is very popular, however only 50 people per day are allowed into this 35,000 acre protected habitat. The preserve is about 60 miles from other popular hiking and camping locations in the Coronado National Forest. The Visitor's Center will be a place for people to see educational exhibits about the history and ecology of the land, learn about the restricted Wilderness area, its wildlife and resources and the mission and efforts of The Nature Conservancy. The facility will also host tours, workshops, seminars and fundraisers.



Visitors' centers -- Design, Sustainable architecture