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Proposed redesign of Sterling Nature Center unveiled

The Sterling Nature Center could one day be housed in a building that utilizes everything from extended awnings to geothermal energy, if a new design presented to the Cayuga County Parks Commission Wednesday comes to fruition.

After several months of development, representatives from Beardsley Architects and Engineers unveiled a proposed design for a new building for the Sterling Nature Center.

Paid for by the Friends of the Sterling Nature Center, the design of a new structure — meant to replace the Jensvold House that currently houses the center — is a part of the center’s 2025 functional management plan.

In addition to providing a place for existing and new nature education programs, the proposed design is meant to serve as a visual entry point and gateway to Lake Ontario and Dragonfly Pond, Beardsley President Joseph Kime said.

The most prominent features of the building concepts are the large roof awnings meant to evoke barn-like qualities that speak to the community’s history and isn’t so garish as to overpower the views of nature, according to Principal and Architect Barry Halperin.

Large windows on both sides are intended to provide the best possible views of Lake Ontario, Dragonfly Pond and the surrounding landscape, while also taking advantage of sunlight to minimize lighting costs — part of a project-wide focus on sustainability.

Other possible sustainable options, many of which could be clearly labeled and serve an educational purpose for visitors as well, include the use of geothermal heating, water re-use, recycled materials and more in the building.

On the larger site itself, the design could incorporate permeable pavements, bioretention areas/rain gardens and rainwater harvesting that would protect the lake and pond from contaminants.

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