Northerly Island Nature Center
Creating a dialogue between building and site, the nature center complex creates an interdependent relationship between Chicago’s social and natural systems while creating a place to get away and relax from the dense network of the city. The circulation flow weaves a series of disconnected buildings into a singular cohesive campus comprised of four distinct programmatic entities. The connective tissue between these buildings become the circulatory system through the complex, it is also the location of exterior activities and gatherings. Consisting of public plazas, event decks, botanical gardens, boat slips, cafes and public art and performance spaces these areas of public collection turn the nature center into more than simply a place to get away, but rather a place of arrival.
The plan of the complex addresses specific site aspects such as maximized views toward the harbor, city and habitat, alignment with the waterfront and boating/beach culture and creating a parallel orientation with initial visitor approach. The sectional qualities of the complex aim to address environmental conditions such as optimal solar gain, predominant wind direction during both summer and winter months, and the penetration of natural light.