Dallas Trinity River Audubon Center Opens
Audubon wanted a building that reflected its history, but also one that conserves resources and serves to connect people with nature. Designed by Antoine Predock, renowned AIA Gold medal award-winning architect, the Center is sustainably built and LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold level certified, the first Dallas Park and Recreation building to strive for this designation, but one of several Audubon Green spaces across the nation.
Some of the building's innovative green features:
• Rainwater harvesting system for irrigation
• Energy and water efficiency
• Recycled construction materials (271,000 pairs of blue jeans recycled as insulation and 2.1 million milk jugs recycled into boardwalks)
• Use of Texas-made products
• Green roof on administrative wing of building
• Drought tolerant landscaping with native plants
The new Center is located just eight minutes from downtown Dallas on 120 acres of the Great Trinity Forest—the largest urban bottomland hardwood forest in the United States. The Center will serve as the gateway to the Great Trinity Forest, which is more than 6,000 acres.
John Flicker said, "One of my passions and a key priority for Audubon is connecting people with nature, whether they live in urban, suburban or rural areas." To achieve this goal, and as part of Audubon's effort to engage broader and more diverse audiences, Flicker has overseen the addition of more than two dozen Audubon Centers, including 10 in urban areas such as Los Angeles, Brooklyn and now Dallas. "I envision each Center as the environmental equivalent of a local library, serving as a community resource for enjoying and learning about nature, and a hands-on laboratory for building environmental stewardship."
Anne Brown, vice president of National Audubon Society, said, "The building is uniquely designed so that everywhere you are, you are drawn to the outside. The building takes in the Blackland Prairie; you also have the bottomland hardwood forest and surrounding wetlands."
In addition to bird watching and outdoor conservation programs and clubs, the Center will also serve as a teaching facility for 25,000 students, providing them with the option of wet laboratory as well as field-based experiences to help them learn math and scientific concepts.
"The completion of the Trinity River Audubon Center is a major milestone for Dallas and the Trinity River Corridor Project," said Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert. "It uses reclaimed land that was once an illegal dumping ground, it conserves a 120-acre area of nature in the city, and it provides a living laboratory—an outdoor classroom—for students to have field experiences that will hopefully boost their interest in biology, nature and science."
Bird watching draws many people to Texas to see peak migrations in March/April and mid-September through late October. Another benefit of the Trinity River Audubon Center will be the growing trend of ecotourism in Texas, already a $1 billion industry. A major part of that trend is birding, the second fastest growing hobby in the US after gardening.
Birding in Texas generates more than $350 million per year from 2.2 million participants, approximately one-quarter of which travel here from outside of the state. (sources: U.S. Department of the Interior, 2003; Dean Runyon Associates, 2005).
Brown said, "People now fly into Dallas/Fort Worth, but often bypass Dallas and drive through East Texas to Houston and the coasts to go birding. The Trinity River Audubon Center will allow them to come into Dallas, have the opportunity to see more than 50 resident species, and then go on their way."
The Trinity River is the largest fresh water inflow into Galveston Bay, and vital for birds as a migratory pass between the northern and southern hemispheres. More than 600 migratory species come into Texas, more than any other state in the US. Texas birders are very active during Audubon's Christmas Bird Count held every December 14-January 5.
In addition to educational initiatives and bird watching, the Center will offer something for everyone including guided nature walks for visitors of all ages, academic lectures, workshops, yoga, exhibits, nature clubs and more. For a complete list of activities, visit www.trinityriveraudubon.org or call 214.398-8722.
Special thanks goes to the following for their generous gifts for the building's sustainability features: The Meadows Foundation (also for educational programs), The Boone Family Foundation and the Eugene McDermott Foundation.
TEXAS PRESS CONTACT:
Juliette Coulter, Trinity River Audubon Center, 214.366.2626 or 214.394.5532