The Minnewaska State Park Visitor Center introduces visitors of all kinds to the Preserve; serve as a home for its caretakers; and house exhibits that explicate the wonders of the surrounding landscape. BKSK has envisioned a building that is experientially an extension of the park – quietly connecting one to the unique beauty of the natural environment, enlivened by seasonal and daily change, and serving as a frame through which to engage the outdoors. Our aim is to develop a connection between the ecological system of the site and the new building – creating a dynamic environment that can evolve over time.
During integrative workshops with the client group, we heard the need to transform the visitor experience, allowing visitors to understand the significance of the landscape, and inspire them to protect it for future generations. Our design thinking responds with a building that can support education programs for all ages, guide stewardship through sustainable design, and celebrate and highlight the unique local ecosystem. The Visitor Center design addresses the current lack of amenities on the site, and the need for a new facility with a sufficient number of bathrooms, a space to regroup and get one’s bearings, and a meeting place for groups who gather regularly. Collectively, we see the opportunity to integrate the architecture and exhibit design, set a design language for future site interventions, and ultimately for the building to act as a teaching tool.