Aldo Leopold Foundation ~ Aldo Leopold Legacy Center

Baraboo, Wisconsin

Project Description

The cluster of buildings was built near the shack on the land where Aldo Leopold died in 1948 while fighting a neighbor’s brush fire. The 11,976 sq. ft. Leopold Center includes classrooms for educational programming and outreach, an exhibit area featuring authentic Leopold artifacts and an archives and library space that will provide access to digitized writings, photos and sketches and will employ web-based distance learning technology.

The center also features laboratories, workrooms and equipment to allow work to continue in ecological restoration and to conduct scientific and social research pertinent to the development, adoption and implementation of the land ethic.

Sustainable or “Green” Building Materials
Interior and exterior materials are selected through a process of “informed choice”. Materials are evaluated for their environmental impact. Factors include:

  • Depletion of natural resources
  • Recycled content and potential “recyclability” at the end of their useful life “embodied-energy” from their production and distribution
  • Greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change

Lighting Systems and Cool Day Lighting
Natural lighting techniques allow a significant reduction in the cost and amount of artificial lighting. With a commensurate reduction in the size of mechanical equipment, they provide a substantial portion of the interior ambient lighting and reduce glare.

Mechanical Systems
Heating and cooling systems are sized for the task. Renewable energy systems include:

  • Geothermal ground-source heat pump heating & cooling
  • Earth tube fresh air system – 600 LF of 24” diameter concrete pipe
  • Solar domestic hot water system
  • Supplemental wood-fuel heaters strategically located where needed
  • One of the largest photovoltaic arrays in the state, producing 61,000 kw hours of electricity annually

Passive Solar Design
The building is oriented to respond to the sun’s position both in winter and summer. Attention to interior layout, glazing, summer shading and interior thermal mass to store solar heat and reduce interior temperature fluctuations. The building takes advantage of natural site features and landscaping for wind protection and minimal site disturbance.

High-Performance Building Envelope
The building shell uses advanced framing techniques to incorporate air-sealing details, reduce construction materials and allow for high insulation levels. A dedicated ventilation system maintains good indoor air quality.

Radiant Floor Energy Efficiency
The main building floor consists of a concrete slab that houses internal tubing. A glycol mixture running through the tubes is heated or cooled by heat pumps tied to 19 geothermal wells beneath the ground. The concrete will take on the temperature of the glycol coils and radiate it into the room.

Innovative Ventilation Design
Separating the fresh air ventilation systems from heating and cooling systems saves two to five times the amount of energy of a conventional building. Energy required by ventilation systems is further reduced through the use of a unique system of buried earth tubes on the site, pre-heating ventilation air during winter and pre-cooling air during summer before it enters the building.

Use of Locally Harvested and Recycled Materials
Approximately 1,400 trees planted by the Leopold family from 1935-1948 are a major building component in the form of trusses, structural beams, siding and finish millwork. Stone reclaimed from an airplane hanger at the Madison Airport was used in constructing the fireplace, a source of additional heat. Recycled aluminum, reused wood and rapidly renewable materials comprise the remainder of the building.

Ecological Design
By keeping the footprint of the improvements to a minimum, the remaining site will be restored to the appropriate ecological communities: prairie, savanna and wetland. Native plant gardens around the building, parking lots and plazas will further emphasize the beauty of the natural heritage. An aqueduct directing the flow of water from the roof of the main building into a rain garden demonstrates how rain that falls on an imperious area can be directed to areas where it can infiltrate slowly back into the ground. Rainwater recharges the aquifer.

Learn more about our sustainable efforts.


Kubala Washakto Architects

Boldt's Role

Construction Manager

Key Points

  • From early on in the design and pre-construction process, true collaborative teamwork between the foundation, architect, construction manager, subcontractors and suppliers was evident. This unique project captured the attention of all that participated in developing ways to utilize the materials given. From grading and retaining wall construction that maximized the site, to adapting the structural frame to the Leopold timber available, to locating reclaimed stone for the fireplace and aqueduct and utilizing all the given wood species to maximize their potential, the project benefited to maximize resource use.
  • Wisconsin’s first LEED® Platinum project.
  • The new facility’s “zero net energy” site employs low-tech/high yield energy strategies and carbon-neutral design.
  • The project received the following awards:
    • SE2 Award of Excellence
    • USGBC Leadership Award
Buddy Huffacker
“We wanted Boldt, not just as our contractor, but as a strategic partner that has an understanding of green building initiatives.”