Architect / Firm: Persinger Architects & Associates, Inc.
The Falls Environmental Center nestles into a south facing slope; lowering the mass on the site and letting the earth shelter the northern exposure. The crescent shaped floor plan envelops the visitor and allows the exterior form of the building to be experienced strongly from the inside. Viewed from the north, the undulating roof line mirrors the hills in the distance, and the living roof makes it appear as if the building is growing out of the ground. From the interior, the ceiling flows dynamically across the space, a metaphor for the adjacent creek and watershed that gives the center its name and purpose. Recalling the cliff dwellings of the Anasazi, the deep projecting overhang shades the tall south facing window wall from direct sun in the summer while allowing the lower arc of the winter sun to flood the space with daylight and warmth. A high north facing clerestory balances the daylight. Recycled steel frames at the southern façade, allow a wall of glass that dissolves the separation to the outside and brings the sunlit meadow and towering redwoods into the building.
The building serves several critical needs. The school needed an enclosed cafeteria, and meeting space. The ecological community needed a central command post, and gathering place. The local community needed a small performance/theatrical venue.