The McLane Audubon Center in Concord, NH, was always envisioned to be a teaching facility with administrative offices, live displays, conferencing, and a retail shop. This project was to incorporate the original building, a small cape-style house, the first Audubon expansion, and a much larger addition. It was also to serve as the point of departure for the trail system and the base for kid’s day camp.


The project went into fundraising before the physical form was really defined. So instead of illustrating the building itself, SMP produced a series of drawings to show the activities the building would be supporting. This process led to exciting brainstorming sessions with the staff. To minimize environmental impact, we briefly considered an elevated structure that would preserve the forest floor below as much as possible. Although a change in the center’s leadership shifted plans back to a more conventional and cost-effective approach, the LEED movement (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) was just taking hold. The client now asked, “If the Audubon doesn’t purse LEED certification, who will?” Gears shifted, the LEED program provided a focus that energized the fundraising, and we were off in a new direction.


The final building connected all of the earlier structures in a south-facing crescent. Live bird displays, or mews, were at a quieter end, away from the entry and traffic. Lumber for the project was milled from trees cleared to prepare the site. Other sustainable building materials included wheat board, pine board, and batten siding, and conventional materials from within the LEED-prescribed sourcing distance. Daylight harvesting and a system of automatic dimming was employed. The building heating was retrofitted to a wood pellet system. Composting toilets were added in lieu of flush toilets. These and many, many other steps led to the successful LEED Gold certification. The Audubon has become a center for meetings and conferences surrounding the environment and sustainable practices.