The Appalachian Wildlife Foundation (AWF) has contracted with the architectural firm Clotfelter-Samokar to design the visitor center at the Appalachian Wildlife Center being developed in Bell County.
The multi-discipline design firm is based in Lexington and has designed major projects in Bell County as well as neighboring Harlan, Clay, Leslie and Knox counties including Harlan County High School.
According to AWF Chairman Frank Allen, “This project is a one-of-a-kind that offers some unique design and planning challenges. We wanted to find a Kentucky-based firm to work with. It was important to us that their senior staff would be easily accessible. Cloftfelter-Samokar has an impressive design portfolio and they have quite a bit of experience working on major projects relatively close to the wildlife center location.”
The AWF and Cloftfelter-Samokar teams have begun working on the project, and expect to have the schematic design for the building by fall.
The visitor center is one component of the wildlife center which is scheduled to open to the public in July 2019. The wildlife center will cover 19 square miles that are home to elk, deer, black bear, numerous small mammals and wild turkey. Over 240 species of birds will be found on the property during the year.
The 45,000 square foot visitor center will house a theater, museum, exhibit halls, a display area devoted to Kentucky elk herd, a bird watchers hall, classrooms, a gift shop, an artisans market, a foot court and offices, and will attract 638,000 visitors per year.
The Appalachian Wildlife Foundation has been on the forefront of ecological restoration and wildlife habitat conservation efforts with the coal industry, especially in Appalachia and to some extent, in the Illinois Basin.
According to their website, the purpose of the center is to serve as a significant tourist attraction and be a world-class conservation education and research facility. The center will capture and offer a full range of teaching and learning opportunities that will be unique and unavailable anywhere else. An accredited conservation education program will be implemented that features both remote learning and on-site classroom programs.
For more information, visit appalachianwildlife.com.