Mammoth Cave celebrates its new visitor center

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Date: November 16, 2012
Contact: Vickie Carson, 270-758-2192

MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky. - Superintendent Sarah Craighead invites the public to celebrate the completion of the visitor center renovation and exhibit installation at an open house 3:30 - 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 27, 2012.  

"This is a moment we want to share with our friends and neighbors," said Craighead. "The visitor center architecture, both inside and out, is the classic National Park Service style. The long-awaited exhibits are first-class and will be enjoyed by staff and visitors for many generations." 

"This has been a very green rehabilitation project," said Steve Kovar, the park's facility manager who provided oversight of project. "Practically everything from the old building - bricks, concrete, wiring - was recycled, and the foot print of the new visitor center is virtually the same as the old one. The result is amazing." 

Phase I, under the direction of Martin Construction (Louisville, Ky.), began with demolition of the administrative building in 2007, to make way for a spacious lobby, information desk, ticket sales, and restrooms. Funding for Phase I ($6 million) came from fees collected in the park (cave tour tickets and campground fees) through the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act.  Phase I was completed in 2010. 

"We continued to work out of the old visitor center while Phase I was under construction," said Mike Adams, chief of interpretation at Mammoth Cave, who oversaw development and instillation of the exhibits. "The first time my staff stepped into the new lobby, with its vaulted ceiling and picture windows, they were blown away. Now with the exhibits in place, Mammoth Cave is a showplace to rival any other national park across the country." 

In Phase II, Perry Bartsch, Jr. Construction Company (Asheville, N.C.), stripped the rest of the old building down to a shell, and then rebuilt it for exhibits, office space, and book sales. The exhibits were fabricated and installed Southern Custom Exhibits (Anniston, Ala.) Funding for Phase II ($10.4 million) was provided via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. 

Demolition, recycling of materials and renovation were all conducted under Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) guidelines, with the intent that the completed visitor center will receive gold-level certification as a sustainable, "green" building. LEED is a program of the U.S. Green Building Council, which encourages environmentally friendly design and construction: 

Light refreshments will be provided by Eastern National, a 501(C) (3) not-for-profit cooperating association which sells educational material within the visitor center.

- NPS -     

The Mammoth Cave National Park visitor center is a modern, sustainable showcase. Its green methods and features include: 

  • Reuse of waste materials - 96 percent of non-hazardous waste from the old building has been sent to a recycler or reused as of April 6, 2012. All the masonry material from the old administrative building was used on site for landscape fill; 91 percent of construction waste has been re-used / recycled, as of April 6, 2012.
  • Installation of recycled materials in the new visitor center - as of April 6, 2012, recycled materials are incorporated in 29 percent of the new visitor center construction. Faux slate roof shingles are made of 100% recycled rubber/plastics. Glue laminated beams are post-production wood, reshaped to form large beams rather than using old growth trees.
  • The sandstone in the building was quarried from within 500 miles of the park (Tennessee).
  • As of April 6, 2012, 60 percent of the wood used in the visitor center comes from certified sustainably managed forest.
  • Counter tops are made of bamboo, a rapidly renewable material.
  • Natural light reaches virtually every room in the visitor center. Light tubes (through ceiling) reflect natural light into an interior restroom and hallway; all office spaces can view the sky. Numerous windows and a solar tracking skylight above the information desk take advantage of sunlight.
  • The air vent or "chimney" above the information desk allows for venting of hot air from building to enhance cooling, decreasing use of air conditioning.
  • Solar power - 103 solar panels installed on the roof will generate electricity (29 kilowatts) for building use. The photovoltaic system will be able to sell unused power to Kentucky Utilities.
  • Water conservation - visitor center restrooms feature waterless urinals, low-flow fixtures, and a 30,000-gallon cistern that captures rainwater off the roof for reuse to flush toilets. 
  • A "building dashboard" exhibit (touchscreen computer) will display the percent of power generated by the solar panels and the amount of captured rainwater being used at any given time.
  • The building is landscaped with native Kentucky species.

Last updated: April 14, 2015

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P.O. Box 7
Mammoth Cave, KY 42259-0007


(270) 758-2180

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