Feasibility Study + Design
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument was established in 1969 to preserve and protect the internationally significant fossil resources found there. In addition to insect, plant, fish, bird and small mammal fossils, the site also contains petrified giant sequoia stumps and an 1880 homestead cabin. The park’s fossils were created over 34 million years ago during the late Eocene Epoch through the drying of an enormous inland sea as the result of climate change. The monument is located roughly 40 miles west of Colorado Springs and two miles south of Florissant, Colorado at an elevation of 8,400 feet.
The old visitor center was a 1924 farmhouse converted for use as a temporary visitor center when the monument was established in 1969. The National Park Service decided to build a new visitor education and museum/research facility to better serve visitors by providing exhibit and display areas, a theater/multi-use room, lobby and sales areas, and administrative support offices. Also included is a paleontology workroom area for extracting and preserving fossil artifacts, in addition to conditioned collections storage rooms.
There is particular interest from the NPS in interpreting strategies employed in this building to reduce impact of current climate change as a strong visual connection to the interpretive story of Florissant Fossil Beds. The new facility achieved LEED® Gold certification by employing such sustainable design innovations as passive solar heating and cooling, thermal mass energy storage, building orientation, daylighting, a highly insulated building envelope, natural and induced ventilation, solar hot water heating, photovoltaic electric panels, and other energy- and water-efficient measures.
The visitor education and museum/research facility is programmed at 4,300 sf.