The Discovery Center is an urban bird sanctuary and leadership development center conceived in partnership between The Audubon Society of Pennsylvania, Outward Bound Philadelphia, and the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood. The Center will offer programming aimed at connecting city residents with nature. The project site surrounds a 37-acre decommissioned reservoir.
The creation of the East Park Reservoir in the 1870’s was a monumental achievement of 19th Century urban infrastructure. Over time, as the basins have been decommissioned, the man-made landscape has given way to the restorative forces of nature. Closed for decades, the Discovery Center project reopens the site for public access.
The reservoir is currently concealed from view by fencing, dense vegetation, and a significant grade change from street level. The Discovery Center design amplifies the strange and compelling sensation of ascending from an urban landscape to an unexpected and elevated body of water.
The design relies on simple forms, including a nearly 500’ charred wood façade and site wall, to create a single, poignant portal from the city to this unexpected natural setting, drawing visitors in and heightening the experience of revelation.
The design employs a limited palette of materials. The primary exterior material is western red cedar charred by fire. This centuries-old wood preservation technique greatly extends the life of the material, embodying the paradox of natural forces that are at once destructive, restorative, and protective. The choice of building material invites another level of inquiry into both the novel ecology of the site and our inhabitation of the natural world.
The building serves as a gateway that allows visitors to access the site without requiring entry to the building. After hours, a hand forged steel pivoting security gate will maintain a visual connection with the reservoir. Conceived by local artist Warren Holzman, the hand forged weathering steel gate will reference a long tradition of blacksmithing and decorative sanctuary gates in Philadelphia.
Base Camp Delta
New Palmer Pittenger and Roberts Hall
The Global Learning Center
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
W P Point
Annex Training Facility
351 Rouse Boulevard
East Lansing 2030
Pavilion & Children's Discovery Garden at Sister Cities Park
Bigham Leatherberry Wise Place
The Study at University City
Campus Bookstore & Development Office
Caesar Rodney Hall - Dining & Residential
Delaware History Museum
201 Rouse Boulevard
150 Rouse Boulevard
Construction Training & Education Center
Margaret Passmore Trickey Building
If you would like to be considered for an internship or full-time position, e-mail a cover letter, resume, references and portfolio to email@example.com as one PDF document. Please limit attachments to 2MB. We will respond to you should the appropriate opportunity be available. No phone calls please.