Ulster County, NY (June 12, 2022)—The Lake Minnewaska Visitor Center at Minnewaska State Park Preserve has been recognized with the Green Good Design Global Sustainability Award for the building’s many advanced features, including energy conservation, wildlife protection, and clean water. The Visitor Center is the result of a public-private partnership between the Open Space Institute and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation and is serving as a new gateway into Minnewaska for more than half a million visitors as they explore the park’s 24,000 acres.
The award was presented by the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies and The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design in acknowledgement of the many ways the visitor center was designed by BKSK Architects to blend into the surrounding landscape, reduce the building’s carbon footprint, and support the needs of park visitors in a remote location.
OSI raised $3 million in private fundraising to elevate the center’s offerings, including its architectural design, special sustainability features, and the creation of educational exhibits within the center.
“OSI is proud of the role we played in designing the Lake Minnewaska Visitor Center, supporting its green design and construction, and creating interpretive exhibits that match the splendor of this site. It is gratifying to see the tireless work and passion of all those who worked on the project receive global recognition," said Kim Elliman, president, and CEO of the Open Space Institute. “The center highlights the Open Space Institute’s ongoing commitment to Minnewaska, including our 40-year history expanding the park and making it more welcoming and enjoyable to visitors.”
“The Lake Minnewaska Visitor Center has dramatically improved our visitor experience and park operations. Minnewaska receives first time visitors daily and all are amazed with the quality and design of the visitor center. Visitors now have a world class facility to become oriented and gain knowledge about the park preserve’s unique history, geology, ecology, sensitive resources and recreational opportunities. The Visitor Center blends into the landscape and the exhibits designed by MOEY flow with this building design educating visitors for generations to come. We are very fortunate to have a tremendous partnership with the Open Space Institute and thank all of the doners that supported the project,” said Minnewaska State Park Preserve Park Superintendent Erik Humphrey.
Joan Krevlin, Partner in charge of the project, expressed, “The design of the Minnewaska visitor center reflects the vision of OSI and NYS OPRHP to create a building that heightens awareness of the natural environment and encourages environmental stewardship. BKSK Architects is proud to have played a leading role in making this a reality.”
The sustainable design, of the 5,400 square-foot Lake Minnewaska Visitor Center includes:
- Integration of passive heating into the building’s design, which along with a natural ventilation system, reduces energy consumption.
- “Right-sizing” and placement of the building to allow the Center to support visitor needs while ensuring minimal impact to the surrounding forest and the natural beauty of the site.
- Installation of bird safe glass which features a patterned design which is visible to birds, but virtually invisible to humans, to reduce bird-to-window impact.
- Bio-retention areas and natural plantings around the building to support pollinators and filter rainwater before it drains into Lake Minnewaska.
Kim Elliman added, “Thanks to the remarkable vision of the staff working on the project and the generosity of OSI’s donors, the green features within the Lake Minnewaska Visitor Center are providing daily benefits to park visitors, wildlife, and the environment. The bird-safe glass, in particular, was made possible through the support of the pioneering conservationist Dr. Lucy R. Waletzky.”
The center was created to help visitors navigate the park's expansive network of more than 50 miles of footpaths and 35 miles of carriage roads while encouraging visitors to become environmental stewards of the land.
Now completed, the center is improving overall public access to the park by familiarizing visitors with the park’s scenic destinations; providing highly anticipated visitor amenities, including restrooms and drinking water stations for the first time ever, and a classroom for education and interpretative programs; and guiding visitors to new opportunities for walking, running, hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, and more.
About OSI’s work in and around Minnewaska State Park
Just 90 minutes from Manhattan, Minnewaska State Park Preserve is a recreational mecca visited by nearly half a million people every year. Situated atop the Shawangunk Ridge in Ulster County, the 24,000-acre park preserve features dozens of panoramic views of the Hudson Highlands, Catskill Mountains and the farmland of the Wallkill and Rondout Valleys. With 35 miles of historic carriage roads and nearly 50 miles of footpaths, the park welcomes a wide range of hikers and bikers. Minnewaska also features impressive sky lakes and waterfalls and is a world-class rock-climbing location.
Over the past four decades, through a series of expansions spearheaded by OSI, Minnewaska is now the third-largest state park in New York. Committed to protecting the Shawangunk Ridge and improving public access to protected lands, OSI has more than doubled the size of Minnewaska State Park preserve; rebuilt over 15 miles of Minnewaska’s historic carriage roads; and most recently, OSI raised more than $3 million toward the design and construction of the Minnewaska Visitor Center, which opened in 2020.
OSI’s restoration of Minnewaska’s carriage road system is part of a larger regional vision being pursued by OSI and many other partners to connect rail trails, carriage roads and regional hiking trails along and around the Shawangunk Ridge.