Monmouth Battlefield State Park Visitor Center is a portal and orientation to a historic battlefield that figured prominently in the American Revolutionary War. The challenge of the project was to create a museum where there are little to no artifacts.
The building replaces an underutilized structure built for the Bicentennial with a more open pavilion that places primacy on the landscape of the battlefield as the chief artifact. Through its siting and generous use of large expanses of glass, the pavilion dramatically changes the visitor experience and frames views of the battlefield that were previously obscured. Sited atop Combs Hill overlooking the Battlefield, the pavilion is conceived as a modern day primitive hut, templar in its siting and diminutive in its appearance.
A key feature of the design is a custom-fabricated “mullion-less” glass curtain wall that provides observers with an unobstructed view of the battlefield from within the museum. Likewise a large window in the rotunda, which houses the auditorium, affords views of the landscape when not in use for presentations. Like a floating cloud above the summit, the visitor center is a one story structure with a cantilevered roof that frames views and protects the exhibits from solar gain.
The building incorporates a number of sustainable features that contribute to its LEED Silver certification. The curtainwall incorporates tripled glazed low-e laminated glass units, the brise-soliel shields the building from harsh summer light and reduces heat gain and heating and cooling is provided by a geothermal system. Rainwater, collected on the roof, is redirected into a rain garden located at the pavilion’s entrance.