The Stewardship Education Center for the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) will be a highly sustainable state-of-the-art education center located in Ellanor C. Lawrence Park in Chantilly, VA. The Stewardship Education Center promotes the ethics of sustainability through its connections to nature, and efficient and innovative design. Visitors will be challenged to think about how to integrate more sustainable practices into their lifestyles, the spaces that they occupy, and lessen their own environmental footprint.

It’s so important to build things that have a light footprint…[to show] how you can leave a small footprint and still have a massive impact.

-Jai Cole, Executive Director, Fairfax County Park Authority

As a firm, we couldn’t agree more. Through the design process, we wove FCPA’s belief that “healthy landscapes ensure healthy communities” together with our mission to empower communities and the future ahead through design and innovation. By emphasizing the importance of sustainable design and connecting the community to the natural environment, Sully Woodlands exemplifies the ideal of “small footprint and a massive impact.”

This project emphasizes sustainable stewardship through the pursuit of Living Certification through the International Living Future Institute’s Living Building Challenge 3.1, one of the most ambitious and visionary sustainable certifications available globally for architecture. It goes beyond avoiding negative impacts and promotes building designs that create regenerative environments and have a positive impact on our ecosystems. Designed to generate more resources than it consumes, the building’s structure, systems, materials, and operations are leveraged to teach visitors the principles of stewardship of natural resources. This project utilizes passive design, solar panels, stormwater collection, grey water reuse, and environmentally safe building materials resulting in a holistic and beautiful environmental design. When completed, the Stewardship Education Center will be one of only two “Living Buildings” in Virginia, and one of 32 projects worldwide.  

The center’s mission is to inspire and intrigue visitors of all ages through its focus on STREAM (Science, Technology, Recreation, Engineering, Art and Math) education. By educating multiple generations, the center fosters lifelong appreciation for the natural world and invites conversations about visitors’ own sustainability practices. With a strong orientation to the natural and cultural resources of Fairfax County, the center inspires visitors to be active stewards of the natural environment through its numerous amenities. These include an exhibit space that immerses visitors in the surrounding park system, space for educational activities and special events, and a series of outdoor learning stations—including an animal enclosure, a STREAM terrace, and a playground.

Quinn Evans and our design partners broke ground on the Stewardship Education Center in December 2021. It is slated to be complete in January 2023 and open to the public later in the year. You can read more about the project on the Fairfax County Parks Foundation website.