Second Lloyd Center building project getting underway
The iconic treehouse visitor center at the Lloyd Center for the Environment — originally built as a private home — is set to receive a makeover as part of the center’s $1.5 million expansion project.
The nonprofit environmental education center has experienced pronounced growth in programming and visitors, especially in the past five years. That necessitated more space for learning, explained Executive Director Rachel Stronach.
The center partners with schools across the state, and welcomes between 12,000 and 15,000 students each year to its Potomska Road location for educational hikes, science expeditions, and environmental programming. Combined with an additional 20,000 visitors, staff have struggled with space constraints within the main building, constructed in 1975.
“We’ve reconfigured this building as many ways as we could to make it work for us, but with all the growth we’ve experienced — especially in the last five to ten years — we’re just busting at the seams,” Stronach said.
The 3,150 square-foot building shut down to the public last month, and construction is set to begin in the coming weeks. The first phase will include the addition of a metal exterior, better insulation, and roof work to improve energy efficiency.
“The building, as it is now, is not a model for an efficient building,” Stronach said.
Once that work is done, a second phase would add an additional 1,600 square feet of space to the building with additions and interior renovations.
“It’s still maintaining the same treehouse character,” Stronach said.
Overall, it is expected to be a two-year project, with the first phase expected to finish next spring and the second phase to begin next fall. Contractors from New Bedford-based Zussy Brothers are overseeing construction.
The project is part of a major expansion project which also includes the construction of a new welcome center. New Bedford Vocational Technical High School students began construction of the new welcome center last fall. Once complete, it will comply with the “Living Building Challenge,” one of the most stringent environmental building codes in existence.
Both projects, and a recently completed pavilion, are funded through the Lloyd Center’s first ever capital campaign, which has raised $2.8 million out of a $3 million goal. Half is being used for expansion projects, while the remaining half will support programming.
During construction the visitor center will be closed, but trails are still open from dawn to dusk, and programming will still be offered. Visit lloydcenter.org for more information.