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Hitchcock Nature Center Pavilion

Posted on 8/9/2023
by Jeff Franco, Deputy Director
The new pavilion project at Hitchcock Nature Center showcases public-private partnerships.

Pottawattamie Conservation broke ground recently on a new 60’ x 40’ open-air pavilion near the Hitchcock Nature Center (HNC) front entrance in the Loess Hills. Not only will the project meet the need for larger gathering space, it also serves as a showcase of public-private partnership in the Council Bluffs community.

“One of Pottawattamie Conservation’s goals is to reconnect our society to the natural world around us, and to do that in locally sustainable and harmonious ways,” said Mark Shoemaker, Executive Director for Pottawattamie Conservation. “This project is just one example of what that reconnected relationship can look like when public and private interests collaborate.”

A recent grant from Google helped close the fundraising gap to bring the project to fruition. Additional community partners include the Iowa West Foundation, the Peter Kiewit Foundation, Iowa Parks to People, CMET, Union Pacific Railroad, and Audubon Society of Omaha.

"This project is a wonderful representation of Google's broader commitment to community and sustainability," said Matt Sexton, Public Affairs Manager at Google. "We are excited to play a role in enhancing this world-class amenity for the broader metro community."

The new venue will be ADA compliant and feature sustainable design and construction and serve as an educational resource for sustainable design education. The pavilion will serve as a community connection point and will be able to accommodate large family reunions and gatherings, persons with restricted mobility, and moderately sized wedding receptions. The project features design elements like locally-harvested milled cedar timbers and structurally round timber (SRT) construction highlighting the feasibility of sustainable local materials sourcing and design.

The pavilion enables HNC to facilitate its goal of healing the relationship between humans and the natural world, and educating the public about the significance of the Loess Hills. Specifically, the pavilion will demonstrate what is possible through sustainable design and engineering practices, providing a physical space in which guests can experience the products of those practices, and by providing educational signage in the pavilion itself explaining the pavilion’s construction and the harvest locations of each tree incorporated into the shelter. It will also allow the public to become familiar with the ecological restorative practices utilized to heal the plant and animal communities of the Loess Hills.

Upon completion this fall, Pottawattamie Conservation and its partners will host a community ribbon cutting event to share information with the community.

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