Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center

  • area / size 29,800 sqft
  • Completed 2017
  • HGA completed the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center as an escape for learning and discovery in Finland, Minnesota.

    Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center is a captivating place in northern Minnesota that draws upon the elegance of nature’s design as a powerful teacher—particularly in teaching young children and teenagers. The center’s mission is to create memories that change people and their behavior—particularly as they interact with wildlife and the environment.

    HGA scope included the Margaret A. Cargill (MAC) Lodge – a major renovation of the west dormitory where visitors live and learn – and a new construction staff dormitory for graduate students living at Wolf Ridge on annual contracts to teach conservation curriculum.

    A deeply transformative project, the center aims to create memories that change people and their behavior, influencing home, school and community, and the next generation. The new living/learning facilities embody nature’s teaching power and create an inspiring home away from home living experience that is both physically and emotionally satisfying. The building is an integral part of the environmental learning process with visible, interactive sustainability features that help change attitudes and behaviors. The MAC Lodge is the first renovation project and the first in Minnesota to receive full Living Building Challenge (LBC) certification by the International Living Future Institute. The staff dormitory, while not LBC certified, was designed to meet LBC standards and became a pilot for the design team and contractor to test sourcing materials and uncover and solve challenges. With a construction schedule a year apart, the lessons learned from this pilot informed and improved the process for LBC certification for the MAC Lodge.

    The buildings at Wolf Ridge are designed to sit lightly on the land, having little impact on existing vegetation yet taking advantage of views to nearby Lake Superior. The environment itself, as well as the new living-learning facilities, create an ideal setting for learning, thinking, and transformation.

    Design: HGA
    Photography: Chad Holder