Green Lakes Environmental Education Center project receives design award

Green Lakes State Park Environmental Education Center. (PHOTO CREDIT: BEARDSLEY ARCHITECTS + ENGINEERS)

MANLIUS, NY – Beardsley Architects + Engineers recently announced that the Green Lakes State Park Environmental Education Center in the town of Manlius has been selected by AIA Central New York for an award of merit AIA CNY 2021 in Adaptive / Historical Reuse Conservation Category.

The awards program celebrates the design excellence of Central New York architects and honors the client and design teams who work together to create and improve the built environment, according to a press release from Beardsley Architects + Engineers.

Originally built in 1942, the historic boathouse at Green Lakes State Park is “an iconic structure for anyone who has visited the beach at the north end of Green Lake,” Beardsley said. The building had been in use since its construction but lacked adequate foundations due to poor soils. The New York State Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation selected Beardsley to design the restoration and conversion of the building into a new environmental education center. As a registered historic structure, the renovations also required coordination with the State Historic Preservation Office.

Inside the Environmental Education Center at Green Lakes State Park. (PHOTO CREDIT: BEARDSLEY ARCHITECTS + ENGINEERS)

To create the new environmental education center and alleviate structural problems, the existing structure was dismantled and rebuilt on an entirely new foundation system. Particular care has been taken to preserve the building as much as possible, the statement said. After the move, the building was restored and refurbished to allow four-season use. The central exhibit space, anchored by preserved stone columns, features educational booths and exhibits about Green Lakes State Park’s unique meromictic lakes, wildlife, habitats, and history.

The building also includes toilets, a small kitchenette, offices for park educators and storage space on the ground floor and in the full basement. An outdoor educational space has been created for park educators for school groups or other interpretive presentations. A small boat rental building was also moved and refurbished for continued use. Visitors can now enjoy the lakeside boardwalk or launch their kayaks or canoes from new docks that connect to the boardwalk.

An interpretive center like this did not previously exist at Green Lakes State Park and has allowed educators in the park to expand and improve their programming, Beardsley said. Indoor and outdoor spaces provide a range of learning opportunities for students and the public through the use of interactive displays in the exhibition space as well as outdoor signage along the promenade. In addition, the possibilities for school groups to visit the park have increased, notably thanks to the “Connect-Kids-to-Parks Field Trip” grant program.