Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Nature Center | Conroe, Texas

Earning the 2008 Texas Forestry Association Excellence in Wood Design Award

The Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Nature Center, located inside Camp Agnes Arnold, emphasizes a respect for nature and encourages a study of the earth through its location, design and construction. The facility is tucked into a pine forest along a lake, establishing a base for exploration at the center of more than seven miles of trails that extend throughout the forest. The focus on education and respect for the environment is accentuated through the use of locally harvested wood as the primary building material coming directly from the campground site. Each piece of wood tells a story of the natural history of the surrounding area. The addition of glass and masonry creates the blurring of inside and outside, allowing the structure to be both a safe haven and a gateway of exploration to the outdoors.

The GSSJC Nature Center is organized around an outdoor gathering area and a long narrow glazed exhibit hall next to the original Nature Center shed constructed in the 1940s. Internally lit, the hall is reminiscent of the kerosene lanterns used by the Scouts to negotiate nighttime excursions along the lake, thus providing a navigational landmark for the area. In conjunction with the Girl Scouts educational programs, living quarters are provided for two visiting naturalists. Broad viewing platforms along the exterior allow hikers a place to gather and rest even when the facility is closed.

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