A modern, sustainably-built education center lives at the heart of this 59-acre wetland area in downtown Raleigh. Designed by Raleigh architect Frank Harmon in cooperation with the Natural Learning Initiative, the 7000-square-foot center embraces the latest in green building practices. The building was constructed with recycled materials when available. It floats above the ground, keeping it clear of the flood-plain and the building’s abundant windows keep the interior rooms well-lit and help it blend into the site. The long back porch invites visitors outside to enjoy a view of the wetlands. The building is heated and cooled utilizing a geothermal system and much of the center’s electricity is generated from photo-voltaic panels. Run-off from the roof is collected in a cistern and used to supplement the center’s water needs.
Programs at the Walnut Creek Wetland Center will help children and adults learn about the importance of wetlands in the water quality cycle. Students will be encourage to get outdoors and see the wetlands and wildlife habitat first-hand. The near-by Walnut Creek Trail offers some nice biking and walking opportunities with some unique views of nature in an urban setting.
John over at the Raleigh Nature blog has posted some pics of the opening dedication, as well as a audio-clip of the poem written by Raleigh poet Langston Fuze for the occasion. The students at Exploris Middle School, a small charter school located a few miles from Walnut Creek, have created a great web site as a service learning project. This site features some interactive information about the center’s features, layout and location.