Tuesday, March 23, 2010


As the first of several Trinity River Corridor projects scheduled for completion, the Trinity River Audubon Center is a true testament to designing within the context of the natural environment and to private/public partnerships. The project Owner is the City of Dallas and the facility operator is the Texas Audubon Society. The award winning 20,000 square foot facility is a nature center promoting the coexistence between people and the land. Located a few miles south of downtown Dallas among 120 acres along the Trinity River within the Great Trinity Forest, the facility is a gateway to the local environmental ecosystem. Aligning with nature as the central theme of the facility, the primary emphasis of the center is education and recreation, related to the history of the site along the Trinity River. The program includes exhibits, educational classrooms, research laboratories, as well as teaching nature in nature. The site reclaims existing landfills, transforming them into native tall grass prairies. Surrounding the center, a series of forest, wet prairie, emergent water, open water, and island environmental communities support a variety of wildlife habitat. The Audubon Center was completed in October 2008 and is currently seeking Gold level LEED certification. The project was recently recognized in 2008 with a Greater Dallas Planning Council’s Built Environment Design Award.

The concept for the building design embraces the three major environmental biomes of the north Texas region- the restored black-land prairies, cross-timbers forest, and river bottom marshy wetlands. The site context served as the inspiration for the building concept as the design reveals the surrounding natural habitat.

The site, initially the City of Dallas Deepwood landfill located within the Trinity Corridor, was selected as the site for the center. The site originally contained more than 1.5 million tons of construction debris, 30 feet deep and rising 30 feet high.

Brownfield Redevelopment - The closed landfill in southeastern Dallas is a visionary restoration project that reclaimed 120 acres of the Great Trinity River Corridor. Once an illegal construction waste landfill site, it now fulfills the goal of returning this land to nature for the use of future generations. The Trinity River Audubon Center sits west of the capped rolling hills replanted with tall prairie grass and hardwood trees that were once dominant on the Texas Blackland Prairie.
Stormwater Control - The Trinity River Audubon Center is designed to reduce erosion. At the base of the hills, a series of cascading wetland marshes and ponds captures and polishes runoff from adjoining neighborhoods and prairies before returning the cleansed water to the river.
Water Efficient Landscaping - Many native North Texas trees and prairie grasses have been planted throughout the site. Native plants are usually very hardy and need little supplemental watering.
Heat Island Effect - The “heat island effect,” re-radiation of heat from asphalt and concrete, causes many cities to be warmer than surrounding rural areas. This effect is reduced at the Audubon Center by using light colored paving, permeable materials for pavement and shading existing paving. A green or vegetated roof on the administration wing minimizes heat absorption.
Water Use Reduction - In the US alone, more than four billion gallons of water get flushed down the toilet every day. Low flow toilets, lavatories and shower heads have been installed throughout the facility to reduce water consumption by at least 20%.
Recycled Content Materials - Many materials made from recycled content are used throughout the Audubon Center. For example, the rubber floors contains 84% recycled content, most of which came from recycled tires.
Regional Materials - The Trinity Audubon Center utilized many local building materials. One example is concrete. All the gravel and sand is extracted from local quarries. In addition to this fly ash was used as a partial substitute for cement. Fly ash is a by-product from coal plants that would normally go into a landfill but in this case it was used to make concrete.
FSC Certified - The Trinity River Audubon Center is encouraging responsible forest management by using FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified Cypress siding.
Low-Emitting Materials - VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) can be hazaraous to one’s health over long periods of time. The Trinity Audubon Center uses adhesives, paints, carpets and woods that are low-emitting.
Daylighting and Views - Recent studies show that daylighting promotes better health and physical development. Using natural day light also reduces the need for artificial daylight during the day. The Audubon Center is designed to have maximum daylight and views to the exterior without gaining internal heat from the bright Texas sun.
Rapidly Renewable - Trees take many years to grow but there are many materials that grow much faster and can be harvested in ten years or less. Materials such as bamboo, wool, cotton, straw, wheat and cork are considered “rapidly renewable.” The Audubon Center has beautiful bamboo flooring throughout the facility.
Rainwater Harvesting - Irrigation provided from municipally provided potable water can create a large demand on the city and the environment. At the Trinity River Audubon Center, rainwater is captured from the roof, stored underground, and then used to water plants near the building.

North Texas Green Building Council

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