Nachusa Grasslands


2019 Jens Jensen Award


Jensen Award

Landscape Architects

Lardner/Klein Landscape Architects, P.C.

Project Details

After reintroducing the American Bison to its Nachusa Grasslands Preserve, the Nature Conservancy, Illinois Chapter, needed to manage the influx of new visitors. With its mission focused on scientific research and land stewardship, managers did not have the resources to educate new visitors to role that Bison’s play in the restoration and stewardship of this native prairie. Existing visitor facilities were minimal.  Lardner/Klein, supported by Design Management Architects, Wendler Engineering, and Signature Interpretive Design, met the challenge of introducing visitors without overpowering the surrounding landscape by creating a visible, yet invisible, Visitor Center. Located on a wind-swept knoll, metal roof reflecting and disappearing into the endless sky, the facility draws visitors into an interpretive rich shelter framing distant views, telling the story of the vast prairie beyond.  Immersing the visitor in this native prairie, the results speak to Jens Jensen’s philosophy of emphasizing the significance of nature in people’s lives. 

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