Located in a FEMA flood hazard area, this new visitor center replaces a late 1950s bathhouse that once stood at the same site. The project team constructed the 330-foot-long building atop a foundation of new and existing piles; its superstructure uses glulam framing with wood shear walls. The net zero energy building contains classrooms and exhibition spaces dedicated to the study of climate change.
During schematic design, Silman determined the building layout in relation to the existing foundation system that would best allow for the re-use of the existing timber piles while raising the new structure above the flood zone. The new slab is designed such that the lowest horizontal members (the steel wide flange beams) are above the design flood elevation.
This new platform is supported by new concrete piers on a combination of existing pile caps with existing 20-ton timber piles, and new pile caps with new timber piles. This partial re-use of existing foundation elements necessitated load testing of the existing piles. Since piles are typically load tested to failure, Silman selected those that would not be reused for the new structure.