The scope of the work includes the renovation of an existing building. The main portion of the building is three stories with a basement. Two two-story wings flank each side of the main building; one has a full basement that is accessible at grade, and the other has only a partial basement.
The existing structure was originally a singe-family residence, but it has been continuously occupied and functioning as an interpretive center for 30 years. The addition to the building is an assembly space for up to 120 people.
The primary environmental aspect of the project is the effort placed on reusing the existing structure and septic system. Four composting toilets were installed, allowing the existing septic system to remain in place. Triple-glazed windows and a high-performance thermal envelope allowed significant reduction in the mechanical system. Energy recovery ventilation is provided for the offices and the large meeting space. A pellet boiler fed by an auger and exterior silo is the building's main heat source. Material selections include certified flooring, refinished existing floors, carpet tiles with recycled backing, linoleum, recycled-plastic trackoff matting, and rubber flooring. The design team invested a great deal of effort in daylighting and lighting design in the large meeting room, which performs beautifully. An octagonal timberframe creates the space for the meeting room: the owner searched for trees on their woodlands for curved braces, and the remainder of the timbers were either salvaged or came from local forests. The Harris Center already owned a photovoltaic system, which was removed and reinstalled during construction.