On September 25, 2020, nARCHITECTS celebrated the opening of the Jones Beach Energy & Nature Center, a project born out of a public-private partnership spearheaded by New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. This pioneering building and landscape, and the exhibition that weaves through them, educates visitors about the ways in which energy use and nature shape each other, pointing towards a carbon-neutral future for New York State.
Designed as a “chalet for all,” the building functions as a gateway to the striking natural environment of Jones Beach, while educating visitors on how they can become its stewards. In meeting the state’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act’s objectives almost thirty years before its targets, the building also serves as a model for sustainable architecture.
At 330 feet in length, the one-story building rises from the foundations of a 1960s bathhouse, extended on either side to accommodate the center’s educational program. To meet resiliency requirements, the building perches above the sandy ground, enhancing views of the dunes and Atlantic Ocean to its south. Future visitors may one day glimpse the vast offshore Empire Wind Project far out at sea. A newly constructed landscape of native plant species, reclaimed from 12 acres of concrete parking, ground into rubble and used as its base, embeds the building in a continuous natural environment.
Organized around a series of interior volumes that house offices, support spaces, and classrooms, exhibition space flows from gallery to gallery, spilling out into a shaded perimeter canopy and amphitheater. As an example of integration between architecture, landscape, ecology, engineering, and exhibition content, the Jones Beach Energy & Nature Center provides a public laboratory for learning about how feats of human engineering and forces of nature intertwine and overlap.
Galleries feature extensive glazing, including clerestory windows, visually connecting the building’s light-filled interior to its stunning natural site.
Surrounded on all sides by a shading canopy, the building’s 700 feet of perimeter provide an armature for expanded programming and spontaneous events.
The building’s profile signals the sloping ceilings of the gallery spaces within, evoking wave forms that occur in both energy and nature.
Client: New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation / Long Island Power Authority / New York Power Authority / New York State Research and Development Authority
Location: Jones Beach State Park, NY
Dates: 2018 – 2020
Sq Footage: 12,000sf
Program: Exhibition spaces, classrooms, offices
Environmental: Net Zero targeted: 260 PV panels and a large battery ensure that the building can island for six hours in full use, and several days with reduced usage. Geothermal wells provide heating and cooling. Extensive solar shading, natural and sustainable materials.
Design Team: Eric Bunge, Mimi Hoang | Amanda Morgan, Laura Buck | Matthew Sikora, Jason Kim, Isabel Sarasa, David Mora, Paul Mok, Michelle Lin, Sarah Bernard
Collaborators: Landscape: Starr Whitehouse | Structural Engineer: Silman | MEP and Civil Engineer: FPM Group, Ltd | Lighting Designer: Lumen Architecture, PLLC | Sustainability Consultant: Terrapin Bright Green | Graphic Design: Tactile | Exhibition Design: Tactile, AJA Architects | Cost Estimator: Ellana Inc
Photography: Michael Moran