Port Wonder Children’s Museum and Nature Center

Lake Charles, LA

An iconic design to enhance a new center’s visibility, accessibility and promote opportunities for the public to play and learn about Louisiana’s rich natural heritage.

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The Project

The City of Lake Charles is re-imagining a prime area of the city’s waterfront into a family destination with an iconic new entertainment and education complex featuring the new Children’s Museum of Lake Charles and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Science Center and Educational Complex (SCEC). The proposed site lies between the Cypress Alligator Pond habitat and a parking garage on city-owned property.

The Approach

In order to help re-engage and reconnect the waterfront site, the building is arranged around a view corridor from the street to the lake. This immediately informs purpose and place for the visitor. The children’s museum and the science center occupy separate wings on either side of this shared congregation space. The undulating roofline suggests the winding waterways that culminate at Lake Charles. The two curved “crests” house the children’s museum and science center, respectively, and meet at the shared lobby courtyard.

The Result

The new facility creates a STEM-based, hands-on interactive center coupled with an immersive, live-animal, Louisiana coast experience for all visitors. Children’s Museum exhibits and galleries focused on technology, health and nature will be balanced with the Science Center’s marsh and barrier island fish tanks, a touch tank, and several Gulf-specific exhibits. The site features outdoor play areas, a covered fishing pier and walking trails that connect to the existing alligator habitat.

science center

8400sf

Fishing Pier

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children's museum

23600sf

We wanted something that was iconic (and) eye-catching.

Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter

This is an exciting opportunity for Lake Charles to provide a public science center and educational complex to not only enhance the use of its outdoor spaces, but to also encourage a better understanding of fisheries and restoration programs.

Gov. John Bel Edwards

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