Jay C. Hormel Nature Center

Austin, MN | Government + Cultural

Overview

Focused on encouraging sustainability and an appreciation of natural resources, the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center promotes thoughtful environmentalism on its 508-acre site.


Opportunity

The Jay C. Hormel Nature Center was meant to inspire and encourage families to enjoy and appreciate the great outdoors, demonstrate sustainability practices, and educate visitors about the environment.

Solution

The planning process for the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center was divided into two phases, each of which integrated sustainability into facility assessment, development, and construction. Throughout the project, the Center’s environmental values shaped building plans. In addition to the Center, ISG designs facilitated the construction of a new maintenance facility, which relied on salvaged parts from a former building. Additionally, material from the old parking lot was reused to reduce materials needed for the new lot. This eco-friendly planning fulfilled the Center’s mission to exemplify caring for the earth while decorative stone, wooden exterior, and bird-safe windows reinforce connections with nature.

One of the most unique features of the project was the inclusion of an 80kW ground-mounted photovoltaic system that sits on one acre of land. This was connected to the building’s electrical panelboard and municipal utility grid to provide solar energy to the Center. ISG also integrated the use of water energy, which helps reduce overall operational expenses and models sustainable energy sources. Several rain gardens increased water retention and an electric car charging station was installed to support visitors embracing fuel-free travel.

Construction began on Earth Day and, with methodical planning, it was completed exactly one year later for an Earth Day opening ceremony. Inside exhibits include information about soil and water conservation, an aquarium with local aquatic life, and live birds of prey. Following sustainability goals, ISG transformed an empty space into an Interpretive Center that is a focal point for the community and truly reflects its environmental values.

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