Walden Pond State Reservation is an internationally acclaimed National Historic Landmark and protected open space along 330 acres. Over 500,000 visitors a year visit the pond due to its great beauty, as well as inspiration of Henry David Thoreau. The surrounding towns of Concord and Lincoln are the fonts of the flowering of American literature in the mid-nineteenth century, as well as the birthplace of the modern conservation movement.
The 6,000 sf visitor center interweaves with the landscape in order to emphasize the pond and heighten the experience of the site. The building is nestled behind trees and shrubs giving it an air of mystery with a long accessible ramp to draw visitors into the visitor center. Exhibition spaces, a community meeting room and staff offices, create a new hub. A large open-air deck of locally source heat-treated ash with a black locust trellis, addresses the pond and provides a moment of repose at the building’s entry.
The structure is an all-electric, net-zero consumption building and implements Passive House principles. The building has no reliance on fossil fuels. In winter, high-performing triple-pane windows and super insulation keep the heat in. In warmer weather, ample operable windows and ceiling fans create natural ventilation and light, thus reducing the need for air conditioning and artificial lighting. A large solar array provides shade over the parking lot and services all the energy needs of the building. The walls and floors of the building are from locally sourced heat-treated wood to withstand the New England weather, eliminating the need for rainforest wood.
The project is a LEED Gold, Net Zero Energy project.