(PARADISE, Wash.) Park visitors, with wide eyes raised to the soaring rafters of the great hall, were the first to experience the new Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center today. The $21.2 million facility is designed to be environmentally responsible and is eligible for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.
Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne welcomed those gathered by sharing his passion for national parks and for environmentally responsible design. He emphasized the need to prepare national parks for the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service (NPS) in 2016, and promoted a centennial funding initiative. Congressman Norm Dicks (WA-6th), a stalwart supporter of national parks, particularly Mount Rainier, offered his congratulations and shared his memories of Senator Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson, for whom the building is named.
Superintendent Dave Uberuaga shared his pride and appreciation for the NPS staff, the contractors, the park partners and many volunteers. “I am humbled by the support we receive from our community and partners, and when we stand today, in a great space like this, the true benefits of these relationships are evident.”
Superintendent Uberuaga said that the goal of the building’s design is to be true to the past and environmentally responsible for the future. “We wanted to build a building that would both complement and withstand its environment. As you walk around the Paradise National Historic Landmark District, you will notice that this building blends very well,” he said.Superintendent Uberuaga also shared just a few of the many environmentally sustainable features of the building, including:
- Using chilled water from snow melt to cool the auditorium.
- Relying on no mechanical air conditioning – an outside air economizer measures comfort level and circulates outside air accordingly.
- Controlling heat gain and loss through the windows with low emissivity glazing.
- Taking advantage of high solar and natural light gain through the windows to light the building.
- Treating storm water runoff before discharging it to prevent soil contamination from oil and other residue on the parking lots
The visitor center is open this Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and on Columbus Day from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Hours through December 31, 2008 are Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. For the latest information about visiting Mount Rainier National Park, check out the website at www.nps.gov/mora.