Jay C. Hormel Nature Center

Jay C. Hormel Nature Center

Austin, MN

From the beginning, the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center was meant to inspire and encourage families to enjoy and appreciate the great outdoors. Located in the City of Austin’s nature park, the 508 acre Interpretive Center’s purpose was to demonstrate sustainability practices and to educate locals about the environment.

The planning process was divided into two phases, each of which integrated sustainability into facility assessment, development, and construction. Sensitive of the other surrounding community systems, permitting coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) helped ensure that the Center would not interfere with the nearby airport.

Throughout the project, the Center’s environmental values shaped building plans. In addition to the Center, ISG designs facilitated the construction of a new maintenance facility, which relied on salvaged parts from a former building. Additionally, material from the old parking lot was reused to reduse materials needed for the new lot. This eco-friendly planning met the Center’s mission to exemplify caring for the earth, while decorative stone, wooden exterior, and bird-safe windows reinforce connections with nature.

One of the most unique features of the project was the inclusion of an 80kW ground mounted photovoltaic system that sits on one acre of land. This was connected to the building’s electrical panelboard and municipal utility grid to provide solar energy to the Center. ISG also integrated the use of water energy, which helps reduce overall operational expenses and models sustainable energy sources. Several rain gardens increased water retention and an electric car charging station was installed to support visitors embracing fuel-free travel.

Construction began on Earth Day and, with methodical planning, it was completed exactly one year later, for an Earth Day opening ceremony. Inside exhibits include information about soil and water conservation, an aquarium with local aquatic life, and live birds of prey. Following sustainability goals, ISG transformed an empty space into an Interpretive Center that is a focal point for the community and truly reflects its environmental values.

 

Expertise

Civic + Culture

  • Bethlehem Lutheran Church

  • Blue Earth Nicollet County Humane Society Riverside Regional Pet Shelter

  • Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota

  • East Leach Park Skateboard Park

  • Elmore Public Library

  • Emy Frentz Arts Guild

  • Faribault Soccer Complex

  • Feeding Our Communities Partners (FOCP)

  • Mankato Family YMCA

  • Monroe County Aquatic Center

  • Riverfront Park

  • Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church

  • St. Peter Community Center

  • Storm Lake Trail

  • The Paradise Center for the Arts

  • Trinity Lutheran Church

  • Veteran’s Memorial Place

  • Wells Depot Museum