Nachusa Grasslands Visitor Pavilion
Franklin Grove, Illinois
The reintroduction of bison at The Nature Conservancy’s Nachusa Grasslands has resulted in an increase in visitation at the 3,400-acre preserve in Lee and Ogle Counties, Illinois. Much of the acreage is reclaimed from active farmland and is knitted together with remnant (original) prairie. The preserve is home to 700 native plant species and 180 bird species in north central Illinois. The introduction of wild bison in 2014 attracted new visitors, many unfamiliar with the ecological landscape and the role of bison as a land management tool.
The Landscape Architect, as the lead project director on a multi-discipline team for the concept and design development phase and team member for the construction administration phase, was asked to provide a sustainable, low-carbon footprint, accessible visitor facility encouraging visitors to educate themselves through a non-staffed, self-guided tour of interpretive exhibits.
Visitor accommodations include a large open shelter—powered by the sun, accessible paths and overlooks, a bus drop-off and parking, native granite boulders for sitting and climbing, compost toilets, and potable water via a hand pump for splash playing in the summer.
The new facility showcases the site’s stewardship and ecological importance through public, accessible facilities that are environmentally respectful and sustainable.