Westcave Preserve

Warren Skaaren Environmental Learning Center

The purpose of the Warren Skaaren Environmental Learning Center at Westcave Preserve is to serve as a wilderness classroom in an established preserve in Central Texas.

The building design is flexible and can accommodate large school groups of 150+ children and normal visitor groups of 1-10 people. It serves as an efficient classroom for the large school groups by providing standard teaching tools such as computers, projection screens, marker boards, tack boards, and exhibit walls while making a space that feels like it is connected to the outdoors and open to the surrounding preserve.

Most importantly, the building creates an awareness of the basic environmental systems that we live within. The educational challenge of environmental learning is to simplify the complexities of the natural sciences and ecology to their basic components; air quality, water quality, protection of the soil and the conservation of energy. As such the design of the structure was conceived as a 3 dimensional textbook, a framework for analogies between building materials and systems and how they mimic or model natural systems.

This project won 7 design awards, 1 local, 2 state, 3 national, and 1 international.

This project was a partnership between Texas Pariss, LCRA and the Westcave Non-profit corporation.


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2007 Demonstrated Leadership in the Living Building Challenge, Beauty and Inspiration

2006 AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects Award

2006 Texas State Proclamation of Excellence

2005 Texas Society of Architects, Honor Award

2005 AIA/CAE National Educational Facilities Design Awards, Award of Excellence

2005 Design Share: International Forum for Innovative Schools, Merit Award

2004 Design Award, Texas Recreation and Parks Society (TRAPS)

2003 Austin Chapter AIA, Merit Award

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