Jockey's Ridge State Park Visitor Center


Location: Nags Head, North Carolina
Project Size: 5,200 SF Renovation + 1,000 SF Addition
Status: In-Progress

Jockey’s Ridge State Park is home to the tallest active sand dune system in the eastern United States. The iconic dunes and surrounding landscape create a unique geographic setting sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and Roanoke Sound that offers a variety of recreational activities including hang gliding, kiting, hiking, wildlife viewing, and swimming.

The park’s visitor center, which originally opened in 1998, requires improvements to better serve North Carolina’s most visited state park. The renovations primarily focus on the visitor experience by providing an improved sense of wayfinding to and through the building as visitors make their way to the dunes. Beginning with their arrival to the park, visitors will have a clear sense of entry established by the new pathways from the parking area to the expanded main entry. An exterior perforated metal canopy projects out to welcome visitors, providing shade and pulling people inside. The canopy slides into the lobby to transition between outside and inside and folds down to provide bench seating. Selective interior demolition opens the lobby to the exhibit wing, allowing the exhibits to be flexibly arranged throughout the space and to engage and captivate visitors of all ages.

To make space for the interior renovations and meet staff needs, the office wing expands out toward the parking area. A slot window slyly indicates the transition between old and new while keeping the architecture contextually sensitive. Other clerestory windows are selectively inserted to bring natural light into previously dark spaces and improve the connection between interior and exterior.