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News Releases

January 9, 2006

Lord, Aeck & Sargent Designs Research Facility to Support All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory

LEED™ Rating System Served as Guideline for Sustainable Design Strategies That Will Yield High-performance, Energy-efficient Research Facility

GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK, Tenn., Jan. 9, 2006 – The National Park Service has started construction on the Twin Creeks Science and Education Center, a first-of-its-kind National Park Service research facility that will support the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI). The ATBI is an initiative to document all life forms in this half a million-acre national park and help scientists make critical decisions about protecting and preserving the park’s ecosystem.

The architectural firm of Lord, Aeck & Sargent designed Twin Creeks as a high- performance, sustainable laboratory facility that emphasizes flexibility in order to accommodate changing research activities and to foster interdisciplinary collaboration among researchers – taxonomists, biologists, botanists and ecologists from the National Park Service; other government agencies; and partner colleges, universities and museums.

In addition to research laboratories, the 15,000 gross-square-foot facility will house offices for researchers, curatorial space for specimens collected for the ATBI, and teaching space for students at several levels who will participate in supervised programs and enjoy access to the resulting information. Construction of the $4.4 million Twin Creeks Science and Education Center should be completed in Fall 2006.

“The Twin Creeks Science and Education Center will dramatically increase our ability to discover, understand and protect the more than 100,000 species thought to be living in Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” said Keith Langdon, the park’s supervisory biologist and one of the leaders of the ATBI project. “The building will facilitate our massive survey efforts, help us gain the scientific knowledge that is essential for effective preservation, and allow us to share that knowledge with the public. In addition, Lord, Aeck & Sargent has worked hard to achieve our project mission for a site-sensitive, sustainable facility that will be a model for other resource-based science facilities.”

Sustainable Design Features

Langdon noted that the U.S. National Park Service adopted the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED™1 Rating System as a guideline for the analysis and selection of sustainable design strategies for the Twin Creeks Science and Education Center. The building is registered with the USGBC and is targeting LEED Certification.

“Our intensive analysis found that certain design features will yield a higher level of environmental sensitivity and energy efficiency than others,” said Jim Nicolow, AIA, LEED accredited professional, who leads Lord, Aeck & Sargent’s sustainable design initiative. “In particular, the integrated daylight harvesting design analysis conducted with our partner ENSAR Group had the highest impact on the facility’s overall form, and the extensive daylight harvesting strategies we incorporated as a result of our analysis will optimize Twin Creek’s use of natural daylight and reduce the requirements for artificial lighting.”

In addition to daylight harvesting, Nicolow noted that a range of energy and water efficiency strategies2 are being employed in the Twin Creeks project, including efficient equipment, ultra-low flow plumbing fixtures and waterless urinals, high-efficiency lighting and natural ventilation. Building materials were selected with emphasis placed on recycled content and indoor environmental quality, and whole building efficiency was optimized through the use of parametric thermal analysis of the building’s performance.

“Twin Creek’s daylighting strategies, environmentally responsible design features, parametric thermal modeling and building envelope optimization have resulted in the design of a building that will consume considerably less energy than a traditional code-compliant building. At the same time, the National Park Service will gain a healthy, productive research environment for the building’s users,” Nicolow said.

The Project Team

The Twin Creeks Science and Education Center project team includes:

  • Lord, Aeck & Sargent (Atlanta), architect
  • Newcomb & Boyd (Atlanta), MEP/FP engineer
  • Barge, Waggoner Sumner & Cannon (Knoxville, Tenn.); civil engineer
  • Palmer Engineering (Atlanta), structural engineer
  • ENSAR Group (Boulder, Colo.), daylighting and energy optimization
  • Enermodal Engineering (Denver), energy modeling
  • Clanton Associates (Boulder, Colo.), lighting design
  • Hedges Construction (Atlanta), general contractor

About Lord, Aeck & Sargent

Founded in 1942, Lord, Aeck & Sargent is an award-winning architectural firm serving clients in scientific, academic, historic preservation, arts and cultural, and housing and mixed-use development markets. The firm’s core values are responsive design, technological expertise and exceptional service. In 2003, The Construction Specifications Institute awarded Lord, Aeck & Sargent its Environmental Sensitivity Award for showing exceptional devotion to the use of sustainable and environmentally friendly materials, and for striving to create functional, sensitive and healthy buildings for clients. Lord, Aeck & Sargent has offices in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Atlanta; and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. For more information, visit the firm at


1The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™ is a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. The standard was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, which is the nation’s foremost coalition of leaders from across the building industry working to promote buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy places to live and work.

2see accompanying list of environmentally responsible design features utilized in the design of Twin Creeks Science and Education Center.