At first sight, this DEFINITELY looks much better than any visitors’ center I’m used to seeing. ANYWHERE!
This is the Ruth Lilly Visitors Pavilion, designed by Marlon Blackwell, at the 100 Acres Art & Nature Park at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, located in (you guessed it) Indianapolis, Indiana. The first thing you’ll notice is the ipe screens that are spread across the steel exoskeletons of the center’s canopy, walls, and deck. As a result of this, the ipe screens wrap all of the structure’s program rooms, areas, and spaces.
I’m also intrigued that the center was designed to exist within the natural environment by allowing the free flow of rain (flood water can pass under and around its foundation) and filtered sunlight throughout the building, rather than excluding it completely. Along those same lines, the building design and construction paid attention to protecting the local environment and is energy efficient. The visitors’ center has water saving fixtures that are fed by an on-site well water, and the facility is heated and cooled by a geothermal system. The building’s interior space allows its visitors to feel connected to the natural environment around them with the aid of the glass walls surrounding the building on three sides and the glass skylight ceiling.
Ah crap; now I’m spoiled and expect that every visitor center should take similar considerations. I’ve ruined myself for life now…