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National Conservation Training Center, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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1997, KCF/SHG. East side of Jefferson County 7, 1.7 miles north of the intersection with Jefferson County 5, 1.7 miles north of Shepherdstown

A 538-acre farm with traditional vernacular buildings provided the setting—and the inspiration—for this sixteen-building campus that houses the training center for one of the federal government's most ecologically minded agencies. Classroom buildings, a dining room, a gymnasium, and other structures are carefully sited at the edges of fields or in the woods to minimize the built environment's impact on the natural one. As Benjamin Forgey, writing in the Washington Post, observed, the architecture “is not ostensibly innovative or experimental. Rather it is reassuring and terrifically smart.” The Washington, D.C., architects traveled the Eastern Panhandle's country roads, carefully observing time-honored architectural forms, then developed a pattern book with details of typical roof slopes, materials, colors (including “barn red”), rhythms, and other characteristics. Instead of slavishly copying, they built upon their findings, updating where necessary or desirable. The result seems effortless. The cost—$135 million—unfortunately proves that such ecological sensitivity does not come cheap. The center's location here owes a great deal to U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd.

Writing Credits

Author: 
S. Allen Chambers Jr.
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Citation

S. Allen Chambers Jr., "National Conservation Training Center, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service", [Shepherdstown, West Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/WV-01-JE37.

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