Commercial and Institutional Architecture: Using stone as an educational tool
The Warren Skaaren Environmental Learning Center at Westcave Preserve in Round Mountain, TX, serves as a visitor center and classroom space for public and school programs. The building had to be able to accommodate groups of 150 or more students, while also hosting visitor groups of one to 10 people and serving as a community center. The project, designed by Jackson & McElhaney Architects of Austin, TX, was selected as an AIA Committee on the Environment Top Ten Green Project for 2006. Locally quarried limestone from San Jacinto Materials, San Antonio, TX, was a key element in the design of the building.
Overcoming obstaclesAccording to McElhaney, a few challenges helped make the project â€œfun and interesting.â€ Aligning slots through the stone veneer walls with the summer and winter solstices and the equinox; creating a slot in the floor to align with true north, so that a recessed meridian could be constructed to accurately demonstrate the movements of the earth; integrating the three strata types of stone into a somewhat â€œnaturalâ€ appearance; and placing the larger boulders at the pylon bases with a forklift, all posed problems for the workers. McElhaney said the challenges were overcome by patience and the successful partnership of owner, contractor and architect.
Warren Skaaren Environmental Learning Center, Westcave Preserve: Round Mountain, TXArchitect: Jackson & McElhaney Architects, Austin, TX
Stone Supplier: San Jacinto Materials, San Antonio, TX