Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority


Indian Springs Metropark Environmental Discovery Center

White Lake, Michigan

18,000 GSF, 1,672 M2

Architecture, Engineering, Interior Architecture, Lighting Design

Honor Award, Honor Award, Second Place -- New Public Assembly, Technology Awards

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These asymmetrical, wood-clad form and copious windows instantly impress visitors to Indian Springs Metropark, a 2,200-acre expanse of wooded wetlands and rolling meadow in Southeastern Michigan.

The client desired a flexible, multipurpose facility for varied programs and activities. Yet the building's main role - introducing visitors to the biodiversity of wide-ranging native ecosystems - inspired SmithGroupJJR to organize the building in relationship to water.
Sited next to a pond, the Discovery Center creates a visitor experience above the water, at the water line, and even below the water's surface. In this way, the building is a literal threshold to the natural world, offering a broad view of the park's richness and diversity.

Not only that, but water -- the lifeline of the Center -- is conserved to the maximum extent possible. An on-site well provides for varied building uses and fire protection. Groundwater also serves geothermal heating and cooling and tops off its adjoining 1.7-acre pond as well as varied wetlands downstream. In the summer, tempered cooling water feeds a children's “sprayground" and is then recaptured to irrigate a nearby golf course.

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