Killens Pond Nature Center

Felton, DE

Exhibits, multipurpose room, laboratory classroom
Indoor and outdoor education and gathering areas
Visible rainwater recovery and reuse serves as a teaching tool
LEED Silver Certified
Killens Pond State Park
Master Planning, Site Analysis, Sustainable Design, Full Design Services

Gracefully situated at the transition between ecosystems, the new Killens Pond State Park Nature Center hovers over the pond as it emerges from the hardwood forest.


Simultaneously lifting spirits and fading into the landscape, it serves a single and determined purpose—keeping nature at the forefront of the experience.

Transparency and openness unite interior spaces with the surrounding landscape, offering wide perspectives of the pond, close inspections of the forest, and opportunities to contemplate the natural forces which dynamically act upon them.

As described by one Building Committee member, “the design is so fitting because it’s about nature, not about the building.”

“The talent within the firm is uniformly excellent. If you are considering an architect to work with you on a challenging project for which you have high expectations, I can tell you without hesitation that you should hire GWWO.”

—Greg Kindig, retired Architect, Delaware State Parks

The new Nature Center is LEED Silver certified. The design showcases the incorporation of sustainable techniques and materials. The sloped roof channels water to the building’s central spine, the underside of which is visible from the upper level interior. Water flows to a cistern at the base of the visitor entry path, creating a learning moment, and the collected water is used on-site for boat washing and site irrigation.

The building also has on-site wastewater treatment through an evaporative waterless composting toilet system, which is estimated to reduce water usage by as much as 40-50 percent, and it utilizes a geothermal system for heating and cooling. The lower level corridor further acts as a thermal mass—with a wall of glass on one side and a wall of stone and masonry on the other—providing substantial natural heat retention through the winter months. 


AIA Delaware Design Citation Award
AIA Baltimore Design Award Honorable Mention
AIA Baltimore Design Award Honorable Mention (unbuilt)
USGBC Maryland Wintergreen Sustainability Award