The Discovery Center's landscape reflects the site’s unique successional ecology.

The Discovery Center

The East Park Leadership and Conservation Center (EPLACC)’s Discovery Center, houses the National Audubon Society and Outward Bound Philadelphia within a world-class education and research facility in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. The landscape design reflects the site’s unique successional ecology as it has become an important stopping point for migrating birds since the reservoir was closed to the public in the 1970s.

The arrival sequence, evocative of the feeling of discovering a lake at the top of a mountain, commences with the path from the Strawberry Mansion Neighborhood and the parking lot and ascends through a successional meadow and mature canopy trees to the top of the slope. There, the Discovery Center frames the first expansive view of the secluded lake. In collaboration with the Audubon Society, Ground Reconsidered developed a plant palette to increase ecological functionality. This includes multiple types of milkweed, the sole food source for monarch caterpillars, selected for the site in efforts to restore their habitat and ultimately increase their population. A mixture of coir logs and compost socks filled with native seed mix and planted with native plugs help stabilize the slope into the water, while providing additional education opportunities. The site design accommodates the expansive programming requirements for EPLACC, providing visitor and fleet parking, bike parking, Outward Bound storage and pack-out areas, an exploration trail, a challenge course, bird blinds and an outdoor classroom, while considering the need for secured access around the perimeter.

  • National Audubon Society, Outward Bound Philadelphia
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • 2020 ASLA Honor Award Recipient
  • 2021 ULI Award for Excellence in Sustainable and Accessible Design, Community Partnership and Contributions to the Public Realm
  • 2014 - 2018
The Discovery Center in Strawberry Mansion Philadelphia
The Discovery Center in Strawberry Mansion Philadelphia