Raven Rock State Park Visitor Center

Lillington, NC

The Raven Rock State Park Visitor Center enhances the visitor experience by expanding educational and interpretive programs, minimizing disturbance to the natural environment, and complementing the self-guided activities.

The facility is located in an open, hurricane-damaged area of the forest with existing trails nearby, within a unique habitat area where the North Carolina foothills meet the coastal plain. The LEED® Gold building is a portal for sustainability.

Much as the Cape Fear River has shaped Raven Rock over time, the site and adjoining trail system organizes the building entrance and approach. At the terminus of the vehicular access to the park, the building serves as a portal to the natural world; the convergence of two hiking trails sets up the conceptual path for an overall learning experience. This conceptual path forms the main circulation axis leading visitors into the building, continuing through to the outdoor classroom, plant community, and trails.

A series of locally-quarried stone walls anchors the building on its site while defining circulation space. This space organizes the interior plan by dividing the larger public educational and common areas from the private administration areas. The stone walls continue both inside and outside of the building, providing visual continuity from the beginning of the path through the entrance and main lobby, to the densely forested park beyond. Large windows extend the interior boundaries of the northern classroom and exhibit spaces out to the covered porch areas, outdoor classroom, and trail instruction area to create learning opportunities for park visitors.