Hitchcock Center for the environment model


Project Location - Amherst, Ma

designLAB Architects

Exhibition - Peabody Essex Museum Wild Designs

Hitchcock Center for the Environment

Spring 2018

*All images are property of designLAB Architects


The Building

The 8,500 sf building offers improved classrooms, a resource center with live exhibits and interactive learning tools, and an open studio for the team of educators. The project connects landscape to architecture through two signature courtyards – the nest space and the den space – along with various gardens, teaching pavilions, and trail systems. The Hitchcock Center’s mission is to teach environmental literacy at all stages of human development and to seek sustainable solutions through the study of natural systems. This mission directed the decision to pursue and achieve a Living Building Challenge certification for the new facility, which requires net-zero water and energy use through sourcing of environmentally friendly, local materials. Hitchcock considers this building an opportunity to advocate for improved building practices, while demonstrating sustainable principals to all students and visitors.

The Organization

Founded in 1962, the Hitchcock Center’s mission is to foster greater awareness and understanding of the environment and to develop environmentally literate citizens.

The Hitchcock Center connects people with nature and encourages a deeper emotional bond with the natural world that sustains us all. The Center helps develop a community that understands connections among human health, ecosystems and economies. Educational programs offer a particular focus on children, who live in a world of environmental challenges.

Our educational framework centers on five fundamentals:

  • Understanding principles of ecology
  • Valuing place
  • Promoting resilience
  • Demonstrating sustainability in the built environment
  • Educating for active citizenship

The Exhibit

-Baltic Birch Plywood Panels for topography

-Stained Basswood for building assembly

-Frosted Plexi

-140' of wiring for 350 LEDs configured in 6 circuits