HOUSTON – (Cynthia Lescalleet for Realty News Report) – Not all the updates under way at Houston Arboretum & Nature Center are to its grounds and infrastructure. The redo of the nature center includes the use of “bird-friendly glass”
Bird-friendly glass is embedded with a crisscross pattern is too subtle for the human eye but helps birds avoid collisions. With Houston skyways part of the annual bird migration flyway, this feature is especially relevant. The Aboretum cites statistics that at least 365 million birds die annually from window collisions in the U.S. alone.
The Arboretum’s master plan includes an overhaul of the Nature Center itself, a $2.1 million two-phased renovation project that kicked off earlier this month. During the work, a portion of the facility will remain open to the public, though the Discovery Room will be closed until both phases wrap up, in early 2020.
Phase I is currently tweaking the long-and-low-slung original building. That 1967 space exhibits many of the mid-century design aesthetics once again in demand. The landscape-oriented style inspired the newly built admin building located just across the center’s emerging courtyard, an arboretum spokesperson said. Throughout the master plan’s improvements and components, the intent was to minimize impact on “the nature of the space,” an arboretum official said. That is part of the rationale for using bird-friendly glass.
Nestled adjacent to Memorial Park, the Arboretum in on the east side of Loop 610 at Woodway Drive.
The overhaul underway is gutting and reconfiguring the 4,000 square feet that initially served as the organization’s Discovery Room. Since the building’s expansion in the mid-1990s, however, it housed the offices and workrooms, now relocated to the admin building.
Most of the updates affect the interior, where the former Discovery Room will become a nature shop and classroom space.
As updated, the building’s main entrance returns to its original spot, located on the western front rather than its current position on the north side.
Phase II kicks in later this fall and affects the ‘90s portion of the combined space, where updates affect four existing classrooms, add an outdoor classroom and build a new Discovery Room.
“The newly conceptualized Nature Center is a key component in realizing our educational mission,” Debbie Markey, executive director, said in the project announcement.
The project is part of the Arboretum’s ongoing $25 million master plan, developed in 2012 to restore the nature sanctuary’s acreage to resilient and sustainable ecosystems and to rethink site management, access, use and reach.