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The Blue Ridge Parkway Destination Center is located at 195 Hemphill Knob Road, Parkway Milepost 384, Asheville, NC; 828.298.5330; visit their website. See the project profile from Lord, Aeck & Sargent,, and Read the July 16, 2008 Appalachian Suncatcher by Debra Moffitt in and the December 18, 2007 $9.8 million visitor center opens along Blue Ridge Parkway by Harrison Metzger in Times-News. For additional information about the Blue Ridge Parkway Destination Center greenroof, contact Jim Nicolow or Meg Needle at:, 877.929.1400, or learn more about Lord, Aeck & Sargent’s sustainable design expertise and the Blue Ridge Parkway project by visiting: Learn about American Hydrotech in The Greenroof Directory.

The $9.8 million Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center in Asheville, North Carolina features an award-winning film and exhibits which highlight the natural and cultural heritage, economic traditions, and recreational opportunities found in Western North Carolina and along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The visitor center houses a 70-seat theater, information and orientation services, and a retail shop offering books, apparel, CDs, DVDs, collectibles, souvenirs, and children’s items.

Nestled into a hillside, the LEED Gold certified building evokes a “tree-house” atmosphere and is projected to use 75 percent less energy than a comparable conventionally designed facility. The Blue Ridge Parkway Destination Center invites passersby to stop and stay awhile, attracted by the combination of modern building materials and green features, including the green roof. The welcoming approach from the winding road to the center highlights the roof’s sprouting flowers and drought-resistant plants that absorb the heat rather than send it back into the environment.

The project has received several accolades:

AIA North Carolina, COTE Design Award, 2009 AIA North Carolina, Wood Design Award, 2009 USDOE, Federal Energy and Water Management Award – Sustainable Design/High Performance Buildings Category, 2009 Environmental Design + Construction Magazine, Sixth Annual Excellence in Design Award Honorable Mention- Institutional Category, 2008.

The Visitor Center serves the Asheville area, the mountain regions of Western North Carolina and the nearly 11 million yearly visitors who enter the Parkway, which runs from the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. Nestled into a hill, the building evokes a ‘tree-house-like’ atmosphere that allows visitors to experience the majestic vistas and surrounding woodlands for which the Parkway is known.

The Visitor Center is a showcase for sustainable design, incorporating the green roof, natural ventilation, day-lighting, trombe walls and other passive solar strategies. Computational fluid dynamic (CFD) modeling, daylight modeling and thermal analysis were utilized to optimize the building’s performance.

The building position on the site was carefully considered to respect the steep site topography, maximize solar trombe wall heating design concepts, and visitor flow from other site amenities including an adjacent building. As a result, the vehicular approach to the facility is above the building making the vegetated roof a perfect solution for blending the building with the surrounding mountain context.

The Blue Ridge Parkway Destination Center’s greenroof uses a single source system supplied by American Hydrotech (plants-to-membrane, with a single-source warranty) and covers half of the roof with a pitch of 4:12.

A stormwater runoff system captures rainwater with a cistern to capture water for use on site and a bioswale directs water from the parking lots where it is then filtered and seeps into the groundwater.


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