BROOKER CREEK PRESERVE ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER
Tarpon Springs, FL
2005 Merit Award
American Institute of Architects
Brooker Creek Preserve is an 8,500-acre nature sanctuary set aside for wildlife in the early 1990’s. The Preserve is home to large populations of deer, turkey, bobcat, otter, coyote, gopher tortoises, a large variety of birds, and many other native species. Located in the heart of the Preserve, the Environmental Education Center serves as a meeting place and learning environment for school groups, tourists, local societies, the general public, and more. Visitors enter the Preserve along a narrow, winding loop road that traverses one mile into the center of the Preserve through prairies, pine flatwoods, oak hammocks, and long-leaf pine restoration sites. After parking, visitors walk along a gentle boardwalk through a forested wetland area to reach the buildings of the Education Center. This journey allows visitors to “decompress” from the busy hustle that they left one mile before.
The Environmental Education Center is composed of three buildings: the Exhibit/Administration Building, the Multi-purpose facilities and the Classroom Building. The influence of Florida vernacular architecture is obvious in the elevated structures, board and batten siding, and unpainted metal roofs. Two of the three buildings are located in a wetland / hydrick hammock, the building footprints have been minimized by cantilevering all floors around the perimeters. This also gives the structures the appearance of floating, or “tip-toeing,” above the sensitive site.