Located in Hegewisch Marsh, the Ford Calumet Environmental Center’s purpose is to allow visitors to discover the past and present of the Calumet region’s unique patchwork of industrial and natural areas. Calumet was a center of steel production and is also located on an important bird migration route. The exhibits will highlight their co-existence.Like a bird’s nest, the building uses materials that are abundant, available, and nearby. Salvaged steel from the Calumet industrial region and from other discarded recyclable materials such as slag compose the building’s design. In highlighting these materials, the building demonstrates the sustainable principle of re-use and simultaneously connects to the region’s important cultural history. The south-facing porch is enclosed within a basket-like mesh of salvaged steel that protects the migrating bird population from colliding with glass that they otherwise could not see (glass collisions currently cause 97 million avian deaths each year). At the same time, the steel mesh creates an engaging outdoor classroom for visitors and becomes a ‘blind’ for observing wildlife.Geothermal heat pumps, earth tubes, a biomass boiler, and water collection systems are integrated into the overall building design and become part of the educational component of the center and its site and contribute to its sustainability. Through these green building concepts the project is slated for a LEED Platinum rating.