AIA Baltimore’s Excellence in Design Awards jury has recognized The Nature Place with a “Good Design = Good Business” Award.
Recipients of this award exemplify outstanding examples of how good design achieves important outcomes for organizations. This award recognizes that within its first full year of operation, The Nature Place helped Berks Nature realize many meaningful results.
Berks Nature was founded on the belief that nature is essential to our quality of life. As such, a driving factor behind the creation and design of The Nature Place and its surrounding grounds was a goal to create a destination where people could better learn about and connect with nature—and never has it been more important. Data derived by the Center for Social and Economic Research at West Chester University states that the health status of Berks County’s residents is poor, and on a national scale, children only spend an average of 1% of their time in unstructured free play, which allows for unencumbered exploration.
Counteracting this data, in its first full year of operation, The Nature Place welcomed thousands of visitors who have participated in yoga, family bike hikes, guided trail walks, and an introduction of how to just be in nature, all potentially contributing to an improvement in their health. More so, over one thousand children from the City of Reading experienced being in a creek for the first time through field trips. Through their dedicated nature play zone, children have explored, connected, and let their imagination take flight. This fall, they opened a Nature Preschool, the first in the area where children spend 75% of their time (on average) outside.
Furthermore, with the presence of The Nature Place, awareness of Berks Nature’s overall conservation work has been elevated. Residents can visit and learn more about their local watersheds, land protection, various habitats, and overall sustainability.
“The Nature Place is unlike anything in Berks County. It is a destination built on sustainable principles. The environment and Berks County deserve a destination like this and Berks Nature is proud to have created it.”
The Nature Place has also won two other awards this year—a Building Berks Award for Education from the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance and a Smart Growth Award from the Smart Growth Alliance of Berks County.
The Building Berks Awards honor outstanding real estate and development projects that have contributed positively to the local economy and quality of life in Berks County. The Smart Growth Awards highlight successful examples of projects that enhance the community, environment, and economy in Berks County.
Through receipt of these awards, it's gratifying to see the facility fulfilling its mission of educating and connecting individuals with the outdoors, as well as having such a positive and resounding impact on the local economy, community, and environment.