A LEED Gold Visitors Center That’s For The Birds

Those who pay a visit to the Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake City‘s Liberty Park are no doubt nature lovers. It seems appropriate then, that the aviary’s new Visitors Center was built with the environment in mind, and recently earned LEED Gold certification in recognition of its green building design.

The new Visitors Center was created to support the experiential, educational and sustainability mission of Tracy Aviary. This aviary — which started when Salt Lake City banker Russell Lord Tracy donated his private bird collection to the city in 1938 — has been in the process of expanding of late.  The Visitors Center is the latest of several projects that have been constructed in the past few years, and one of several more to come. The Tracy Aviary currently maintains a collection of approximately 400 birds representing about 135 species, many of which are considered rare or endangered.

Tracy Aviary Visitors Center

image via ajc architects

The Visitors Center, designed by ajc architects, takes a gentle ‘Z’ form, weaving visitors on a journey through art, trees, and the aviary’s Pelican Pond. This unique design incorporates new entry facilities, multipurpose areas, a gift shop, and office space for the aviary’s staff. Green building strategies at work here include solar power (courtesy of a rooftop photovoltaic solar array) that provides for 13 percent of the building’s electricity needs; low-VOC paint, adhesives, and flooring; and locally sourced and recycled materials, including FSC-certified wood.

The building preserves indoor air quality through natural ventilation, air filters, and quality monitoring, and helps to treat storm water run off via retention and detention ponds on site. Its energy-efficient building systems result in a facility 36 percent more efficient than an equivalent building simply constructed to code.

One notable design feature is the patterned metal facade that forms the skin of the building, which the architect envisioned as embodying both the function (dappled shading) and the aesthetic of trees. Another key feature: three different window treatments that reduce bird strikes and resulting injury/mortality.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.

1 Comment

  • Reply August 23, 2012


    not bad exterior, I like the patterned facade – often ‘environmentally friendly’ buildings are quite ugly outside. I wonder how many generations of birds have grown up there since 1938..

Leave a Reply