Funded by local, state, and federal grants, and brought to us through the efforts of municipal and environmentalist crusaders, the Oso Bay Environmental Learning Center was built to enrich the lives of students, nature lovers, and wildlife alike.
The Learning Center, situated at the entry to the Oso Bay Wetland Preserve in Corpus Christi, TX, is a large undertaking which has been beautifully realized. Features of the Learning Center include: an exhibition space; two multi-purpose rooms; a wetlab designed for use by area schools and community groups; and the design and production of environmental education exhibits. The expansive park space also includes nature trails spanning two miles, various wildlife viewing stations, and an impressive naturally-sourced water feature.
WKMC Architects teamed up with RVI Planning, an Austin based design firm, to provide master planning and architectural design for the eco-friendly project.
As architects and engineers who intimately know the Gulf Coast, WKMC is practiced in accounting for the area’s ecological environment – considering salt, wind, and humidity is essential in planning each of our projects. The Wetlands Preserve provided an opportunity to not only design for, but to celebrate our unique environment.
The Learning Center is intentioned to be self-sustaining, and our challenge was to consider the environment foremost. We implemented as many ‘green’ details as possible – careful plotting of shading and building orientation, solar panels, and insulated concrete among them.
The design process began with an Integrated Design ‘Eco-charrette’ during which a BIM model for sustainable building and landscape design were developed.
Second to preserving and encouraging environmental growth was to create a place where learners of all ages can immerse themselves in the natural habitat of the Coastal Bend. Play areas, classrooms, public art features, and teaching gardens provide a wide array of potential moments of play, teaching, and learning.
Details such as bus parking areas were created with schoolbusses full of field-tripping students in mind. Shade structures and covered areas provide refuge from hot sun. Wide walking paths are perfect for individuals or larger groups to explore together, where you might be lucky enough to spot an owl, a spoonbill, a turtle, or even a bobcat.
We are proud to have been a part of this project, and believe it to be one of Corpus Christi’s most exciting new developments. The community has embraced it with open arms, and it is abuzz with visitors engaging in lectures and learning summits, taking yoga classes, and simply sitting and enjoying a quiet, peaceful convergence with nature.
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