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Riverlands Avian Observatory


AIA STL Distinguished Architecture Award
ACSA Design Build Award

Architizer A+ Award Finalist

The Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary provides 3,700 acres of protected habitat at a critical juncture along the Mississippi Migratory Flyway. Within the sanctuary, Heron Pond is a constructed wetland that is hydrologically managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Stopover or home to more than 300 avian species, birders convene along the water's edge to experience this unique ecology. After 8 months design-build studio, we designed, prototyped, fabricated and constructed a unique bird watching experience for visitors to the Audubon Center at Riverlands  along the banks of the Mississippi.

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Explore The Site

Reimage the surrounding landscape, trail networks, vehicular access and vegetation to minimize the disturbance to sensitive species. The approach also carefully choreographs a sequence of views to the observatory and surrounding landmarks keyed to informational graphics that help to educate visitors while crafting a memorable experience.

Exterior & Interior Concept

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The intent of camouflage on the exterior is not to blend in, just the opposite. Birds aren't bothered by the building, just the activity and presence of people. Instead, the structure stands out from the context to attract visitors while hiding the people within through shaded apertures that blend into the exterior patterning. Inside, diagonal apertures provide viewing for people of any height. The interior is surfaced with black perforated aluminum, helping to muffle sound and keep the interior dim to hide visitors from view.


Fabrication & Construction


Digital Fabrication / Design-Build Studio: 2013

Instructors: Andrew Colopy, Ken Tracy

Credits: Nike Cao, Emily Chen, Wassef Dabboussi, Duan Duan, Can Fu, Jina Kim, Masha Konopleva, Joe Lomas, Yiyang Min, David Orndorff, Yiming Pan, Glenn Park, Chris Quinlin, Yu Rong, James Struthers, Yilong Wang, Nash Waters, Hao Wu, Yao Xia, Yu Xin, Shuojin Yang, Haosheng Zhang, Han Zhu

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