Thorne Nature Experience

Project Description

Thorne Nature Experience is constructing a new nature center in Lafayette, Colorado, to further their mission of connecting youth to nature, which they’ve been doing for over six decades. This $5.5 million project is designed to accommodate a nature preschool, office spaces, and enhance community access to the outdoors.

DMA Engineering, in collaboration with Caddis Collaborative Architecture, has been responsible for the design, documentation, and construction oversight of the Energy, Mechanical, and Plumbing engineering aspects of this project. A key goal of this project is to minimize its carbon footprint, both during construction and for ongoing operations.

The new construction consists of two single-level buildings, each with approximately 2,500 square feet of space. The first building serves as an office complex with a mix of open and closed offices, a break room, restrooms, meeting rooms, a lobby, and a supply room. The second building is dedicated to the preschool, featuring an open floor plan with three flexible classrooms that can be divided using sliding wall panels. To ensure a strong connection to the outdoors, the classrooms have large overhead or sliding doors, allowing children to easily access and enjoy nature.

Both buildings, the office, and the classrooms, will be equipped with electrical systems for heating and cooling. The ventilation system will include Energy Recovery Ventilator(s) and adhere to ASHRAE Standard 62.2 guidelines to ensure proper indoor air quality. Fresh outside air will be supplied to the fan coils’ return side, which will then be distributed throughout the entire buildings.

Thorne Nature Experience’s mission is to “build Earth stewardship by providing youth with joyful, hands-on, place-based environmental education experiences that foster an emotional connection to nature.”  DMA is proud to contribute to this meaningful mission.

Construction is expected to be completed by April 2024.

Image Credit: Caddis Collaborative Architecture, Boulder, CO