Developed through a collaboration of the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners, the Gwinnett County Public School System, the University of Georgia and the Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center Foundation, the Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center is an interpretive learning center focused on the general subject of water and its relationship to life.
The project is located at the site of the F. Wayne Hill Water Resources Center, a 700-acre site that includes one of the three most effective water reclamation plants in the country. The project comprises a building with interior exhibits and learning environments, a series of trails linking outdoor interpretive experiences, and accessible sustainable design elements that make this a building that “teaches” visitors about good environmental stewardship.
The building and grounds are a model for sustainable design and construction – exhibiting innovative techniques to minimize disturbance to the site and to maximize energy efficiency.
The facility utilizes locally and regionally harvested materials and features a wide array of water-and energy-saving strategies and products, including a one-acre green roof, gray water for toilet flushing, waterless urinals, daylight harvesting, a cooling shoals water feature that functions as part of the building’s cooling system and a fan-assisted natural ventilation system. Projected to use 75 percent less potable water and 35 percent less energy than a conventional building of the same size, the building is LEED Gold-Level Certified from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Lord, Aeck & Sargent provided programming, site evaluation, design and construction administration for a research and instructional center at the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography (SkIO). SkIO’s new research center provided much needed research lab space to support the center’s mission — “to provide the State of Georgia with a nationally and internationally recognized center of excellence in marine science”.
Located on a 5 acre site adjacent to their existing administration / laboratory building, the new facility includes flexible, high-tech research labs, administrative support for principal researchers and technical staff, and a multi-use conference facility. Critical to the success of the research center, the new facility:
- Respects the unique and sensitive natural environment
- Maintains as much open space as possible to support a “rural campus”
- Provides high tech research space
- Establishes an Architectural vocabulary for the research campus
The building is one-story in height and raised 4’-6’ above the existing grade to be above surrounding flood plain elevation. Exterior materials were selected for durability and to be compatible with existing buildings on the campus. Interior materials were selected for durability and flexibility. All systems were selected in the context of sustainable design principles, focusing on energy efficiency and environmental sensitivity.