Hammonasset Ecology Center for Birds

Senior Thesis Studio, Spring 2013

Yale College

Professors: Ariane Lourie Harrison & Kyle Dugdale

Site: Hammanoasset State Park, Madison, CT

This proposal for an ecological center capitalizes on the visitors who already come to Hammonasset State Park for the beach and birding opportunities. Currently, only a small percentage of these guests visit the existing nature center, which limits the educational exposure to the public. The new ecology center is strategically located between the main parking lot and the beach entrance to encourage passersby to explore the center as they make their journey along the boardwalk. The buildings gently interrupt the pedestrian route to encourage visitors to explore the various spaces of the center. The program consists of an outdoor plaza, large auditorium, live bird lab, interactive information center, café, and faculty offices. The information center connects the visitors to the ecological opportunities at the site through touch screen panels displaying birding hot-spots, live footage of nests, and ornithology information specific to the park. This intimate relationship between the people and the environment is also embodied in the architecture of the center. The indoor/outdoor qualities of the boardwalk and framed beach views infer a connection between the occupant, architecture, and the nature of the park. Furthermore, the elevated boardwalk is intended to minimize the center’s footprint on the natural landscape of the sand dune, as it lets the sand gather and shift freely. The interaction between human, nature, and architecture allows the center to further its mission by educating the public of the birding and environmental opportunities at Hammonasset.