Environmental Education Center

Alabama 4-H Club

A representation of 4-H's continued commitment to environmental education.



The Board of Directors of the Alabama 4-H Center wanted to make a strong statement about 4-H’s commitment to environmental education in a new facility on the banks of Lay Lake, Alabama. They sought to create a design to meet the functional requirements of the 14,000 school children who come there on field trips each year, and to communicate new directions for the 4-H organization celebrating its centennial year while also attracting more adult visitors and corporate groups to the unique retreat. They also wanted the construction to meet the high standards of the U.S. Green Building Council for a LEED Gold Certified building.

The Davis team created environmental laboratories to bring students closer to nature, and a tall observation deck to lift them into the treetops. Our team combined natural stone and steel, along with natural wood and recycled materials, in a unique point/counterpoint design that reflects the beauty of the site’s surroundings and the cost benefits of such construction materials. Natural lighting throughout minimizes the need for artificial lighting, and energy use monitors reduce operating costs. Even the rainwater is collected for the plumbing and fire sprinkler systems. And like everything else in the facility, these features are used as teaching tools – to make students and adult visitors more environmentally sensitive.

Completed on time for a grand opening celebration in November 2007, the new environmental education center has proven to be transformative. American School & University magazine presented its Specialized Facility Citation to the facility. The American Institute of Architects has recognized the building with local and regional design awards. And 4-H has seen increases in requests from corporations and other groups to use the new seminar rooms and multi-function space.

Members of the 4-H Board along with its present and former chairmen continue to sing praises for design expectations exceeded – while also celebrating the facility’s LEED Gold Certification. This is a distinction that, at the time, only one other building in Alabama, and no other 4-H facility in the nation, had ever achieved.

At a glance

  • Located in Columbiana, AL
  • 17,500 sf
  • Completed Fall 2007


  • Architecture
  • Interior Design
  • Furniture Specification
  • Sustainable Design

LEED Certification

  • LEED Gold (v2.1)