Nature Observatory / Jackson Hole
2023 ( anticipated  ) / 1,000 sq. ft.

The nature observatory is sited in the Greater Yellowstone ecology of Jackson Hole. The migratory corridor of the Snake River brings wildlife close to people, with elks, moose, deer, and bears found nearby. Visitors come to the observatory to experience wildlife in their natural habitat. This experience is immersive rather than distanced, as the building allows for the study of flora and fauna while maintaining a connection to the outdoors.

The observatory is a low-energy building that meets passive house building standards, though untypically it does so while enabling seasonal open connections to the outdoors. An all-weather room provides visitors with experiences of thermal diversity. This room, open to the outdoors during the winter, includes hot and cold plunge pools. During inclement weather, the adaptable room is closed to the exterior and open to the interior, with a sauna and a fireplace for gathering. The pools, sauna, and radiant heating use geothermal energy.

The design includes several semi-exterior areas—two wildlife blinds, a covered viewing deck, and a roof terrace—that connect architecture with the surrounding environment. The blinds provide screening view wildlife and includes pollinating gardens. The covered deck frames an uninterrupted view of the Teton Range. A raised walkway connects the deck to the terrace, weaving through tree groves with a reading area surrounded by foliage. The observatory is both an immersive nature experience and a restorative retreat.

Project Team: Rachely Rotem, Phu Hoang, Diego Fernandez Morales

Copyright 2021 by MODU Architecture, PLLC