Baker University Wetland’s Discovery / Educational Building in Lawrence, Kansas

Sunward Steel Buildings, Inc. was honored to supply and manufacture this prefabricated steel building in Lawrence, Kansas, in late January 2014.

Nowadays, it serves as the Baker Wetlands Discovery Center at Baker University, a private, rural Christian university that offers a variety of high-quality undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The state-of-the-art, educational steel building is situated amidst the 927-acre Baker Wetlands, which are home to hundreds of distinct plant and animal species, and it provides a communal space for education, exploration, and conservation efforts.

A Destination for Students, Biologists, Biochemists & the Public

Though part of Baker University, the Baker Wetlands Discovery Center is also open to the public, and it has 11 miles of hiking trails surrounding it that that provide unobstructed viewing access for wetland plants and wildlife. In addition to serving as a safe, secure space for educating students and the public about the importance of preserving and protecting outdoor space and wetlands, the steel discovery center also hosts numerous special and annual events, among them Monarch Butterfly Days, National Migratory Bird Days and stargazing and wildflower-spotting events.

A part of Douglas County in northeastern Kansas, the city of Lawrence is a lively college town with a substantial student population. The community lies roughly 25 miles east of Topeka and about 35 miles west of Kansas City, Kansas.

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Building Specifications

Attractive, economical, and ultra-modern, the metal discovery center is comprised of (4) connected buildings that together create one facility. The first stands 55’x100’x12.67/19.83’ in size upon erection, while the second and third structures stand 40’x85’x12.67/19.83’. The fourth and final structure boasts a finished size of 23.5’x23.5’x10.1/14.31’, and they are all comprised exclusively of premium-quality steel components. Key features include projection screens on the interior walls that project wildlife and interactive videos for students and guests, and oversize windows in the building’s main room that provide panoramic views of the surrounding wetlands.

Designed with sustainability in mind, the center secures 75 percent of its energy from a 10 KWH solar array, and (20) framed openings ranging in size and purpose serve as additional discovery center characteristics. Included are (3) 3’4”x7’2” walk door framed openings, (1) 10’x8’ overhead framed opening, (1) 15’x12’ overhead framed opening, (1) 13.5’x12’ overhead framed opening, (3) 21’x7’ window openings, (10) 3’x5’ window openings, and (1) 6’x5’ window opening.

Additional features designed to enhance durability given the climate patterns associated with Lawrence and the surrounding Midwestern landscape include a 20-psf ground snow load and a 115-mph wind load.