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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 East Park Reservoir in the 1870's and today

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. 

 

For many years the reservoir was concealed from view by fencing, dense vegetation, and a significant grade change from street level. The design of the newly opened Discovery Center amplifies the strange and compelling sensation of ascending from an urban landscape to an unexpected and elevated body of water. 

aerial view
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South Elevation

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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.

Charred cedar panels fabricated by The Challenge Program 

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. 

 
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Shou Sugi Ban nesting shelf panels

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 maintains a visual connection with the reservoir.  Conceived by local artist Warren Holzman, the weathering steel gate references a long tradition of blacksmithing and decorative sanctuary gates in Philadelphia. 

 
eplacc gate gif website

Entry Portal

Iron Studio 

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Iron Studio Pivot Gate Detail

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Detail of bird strike prevention donor wall fabricated by Traction Company 

bird strike
High tech and low tech bird strike prevention 
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Bird cord and scupper 

Projects

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Office Administrator

We are seeking a full-time Office Administrator with excellent written, oral communication and organizational skills. The candidate must be adaptable and able to work independently
prioritizing tasks/projects with little supervision, showing flexibility and creative problem solving. This individual would be a self-motivated multi-tasker, detail-oriented, and a hardworking team player.

Learn More

 

 

If you would like to be considered for an internship or full-time position, e-mail a cover letter, resume, references and portfolio to employment@digsau.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.