TRINITY RIVER AUDUBON SOCIETY

DESIGN

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.  Working within the geological and geographical aspects of the site, the building literally reaches out and engages the site on several different levels.  Spread out and delicately nested into the landscape, as a bird spreading its wings, the Center features an exhibit hall, Great Hall, gift shop, conference and meeting rooms as well as laboratories, classrooms, and headquarters for Texas Audubon.  

An elevated footbridge connects the miles of trails to the entrance of the building.  Encased in canted glass, visitors of the center are always in the presence of the forest around them.  The exhibit room on the southern end of the building intrigues its visitors with openings in the exterior walls that beckon those to look and listen. The creation of the Center and its trail systems create value for the local community by bringing to the Southeast Dallas community an educational gathering space.

      " 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"

SITE

The Trinity River Audubon Center is inspired by nature, while responding to the urban downtown environment only a few miles away.  It is hard to imagine a place with such beauty, history and intrigue that has been overlooked by the majority of Dallas citizenry for decades.  And yet, only due to this absence of attention, the majestic native trees and "Twain-like" riverbanks have been allowed to remain intact.  The Center within the Trinity Forest allows people, forest, river, and wildlife to coexist without barriers or harm.  This gateway for forest visitors absorbs the energy inherent to the site and distills it into an Interpretive Center that celebrates the culture of the land.  Visitors enter the forest either by road or by trail.

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.  Following the State TCEQ requirements and the goal of returning this land to nature for the use of future generations, the waste was consolidated into capped rolling hills replanted with tall prairie grass and hardwood trees.  Clay-lined ponds that attract wildlife and allow rainwater and storm water runoff to collect, filtered, and flow back into the Trinity River, were constructed to further embellish the site.  Observation areas were created around the ponds with 2.5 miles of walking trails to lead visitors into the forest and into closer contact with the natural surroundings.

   " This site context served as the inspiration for the building concepts as the design reveals the         surrounding natural habitant"

SUSTAINABLE FEATURES

  • 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.

PROJECT TEAM

Architect: BRW Architects: Architect 
Design Architect: Antoine Predock Architect Owner: City of Dallas Park+Recreation Dept.
Contractor: Sedalco Construction Services
Exhibit Planner: Lyons/Zaremba, Inc.
Environmental/Civil/MEP: URS Corporation
Structural: Jaster-Quintanilla Dallas
Archeology History: Geo-Marine
Trail Planning: Bowman-Melton Associates
Cost: Hill International, Inc.
Geotech: Terracon Consulting 
Audio/Visual: PMK
Commissioning: Sebesta Bloomberg & Associates
Energy Modeling: Supersymmetry USA, Inc.
Rain Water Harvesting: Innovative Water Solutions
Green Development Services: Rocky Mountain Institute
Film Consultant: Peace River Studios
Photography: Michael Lyon, Photographer