Located on the southeastern edge of the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area in Howard County, Maryland, the LEED Platinum Robinson Nature Center is the county’s first nature center. Hord Coplan Macht was the landscape architect for this project, situated on 18-acres of wooded land. The Nature Center celebrates ecology and the natural world, providing environmental education to school groups and the public. Architectural design was by GWWO.
The goal of the Nature Center was to preserve and protect the property, generously donated to the County by Anne and James Robinson, from future development.
Hord Coplan Macht designed the Master Plan for the site, working with challenges such as an archeological site to locate the building and parking lot. The site chosen for the building draws visitors into the preserved forest canopy, closely connecting architecture and site. Hord Coplan Macht’s landscape design features demonstration gardens; a water feature which utilized stone found on the site; bird-watching; a future butterfly house and garden; a backyard habitat; future amphitheater and a network of pathways and trails meandering throughout the property.
With a goal of LEED Platinum, every sustainable technique and product was considered. Because Robinson is located on a rural site, many of the Site Selection credits were unavailable to the team. Therefore, the design team had to carefully consider the impacts of each design decision on the LEED status of the project. Sustainable features at Robinson include: a pervious concrete parking lot; minimal lawn, extensive native meadow planting; LED lighting; energy efficient equipment in the water feature; the use of environmental site design techniques for stormwater management and the use of native and drought tolerant plants for the planting. The County will continue to plant and reforest the site in the future. The Robinson Nature center has quickly become a success and a popular destination in Howard County.