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Mammoth Cave Visitor Center


Mammoth Cave Visitor Center

The visitor center at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky was renovated in 2012 to improve the experience of visitors to this World Heritage Site that includes the world’s longest underground cave system, with more than 400 miles of underground interconnected passages. 

WSP USA provided the U.S. National Park Service with complete architectural and engineering services, from conceptual design through construction administration, for the $16.4 million project. The firm's responsibilities included landscape architecture and civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection design. 

The visitor center was designed to achieve Gold certification under the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program. 

Among key sustainable elements: 

  • The use of materials indigenous to the area including sandstone quarried within 500 miles of the park;

  • A timber roof frame; 

  • Recycled rubber "slate" roof shingles; 

  • Landscaping with native Kentucky species; 

  • Wood (60 percent of the total used) from sustainably managed forests; and

  • Countertops are made of bamboo, a rapidly renewable material. 

More than 100 solar panels on the roof generate electricity for building use. Excess power will be sold to Kentucky Utilities Company. Natural light is provided through numerous windows and ceiling light tubes. Vents to expel hot air decrease the need for air conditioning. 

Rain harvested from the roof is directed to an underground cistern and used to flush toilets, while storm water from paved areas is filtered through an oil, water, and grit separator before being discharged to the area's watershed.