In 1991, Ijams Nature Center tripled in size with the acquisition of 60 adjacent acres. Ijams commissioned MHM, in joint venture with landscape architect Ross-Fowler, Inc., exhibit designers Inside-Outside, Inc., and The Larson Company, to develop a master plan for the expansion of its educational programs and facilities. The centerpiece of the plan is a new Nature Center Building.
Adhering to the principals of sustainable design, the 16,230 SF Nature Center Building is scaled to respect the character of the site. With rough sawn board, batten siding and native stone exteriors, the south facing building has a passive solar design, with low eaves and overhangs to shade the windows in summer and allow light penetration in winter. Clerestories, skylights and windows maximize day lighting, views and connection to the outdoors. Careful selection of materials and finishes provide exceptional indoor air quality for users. Roof and wall construction of structural insulated panels give the building with an energy efficient envelope.
Facilities include a 2,000 SF exhibit hall, multi-purpose room, classrooms, labs and administrative space. Environmentally transparent design and cut away exhibits show the structure and inner workings of the building, making it part of the educational process.