inPRACTICE / A PLACE FOR NATURE: Doral Glades Park & Nature Center in Doral, Fla.

By Alycia Oppenheim

When the City of Doral, Fla., was ready to build a new nature center at Doral Glades Park, they turned to CPZ Architects for design assistance.

This project is located on a 25-acre parcel and includes full public park amenities with lush landscape throughout, basketball and tennis courts, a restroom building with storage rooms, a sand volleyball court, picnic pavilions, decorative concrete walkways, a jogging path, a children’s playground, an outdoor performance stage and a large multipurpose field. Also included is a kayak launch, dock area for gatherings and fishing, protected wetlands area boardwalk for nature walks, ample parking and a 9,000-plus-square-foot contemporary “Nature Center” building comprised of stone walls, exposed heavy timber, large overhangs, porches and large glass walls.

The Nature Center’s tall glass walls were oriented to the north to maximize daylight use with less heat gain. Other architectural features include a large, dedicated vaulted-ceiling nature exhibit room, large vaulted-ceiling multipurpose room with moveable wall partitions, catering room, storage rooms, restrooms, science lab classroom for children, e-library, staff offices, meeting and break room, vaulted-ceiling lobby area, projection room, remotely controlled lighting and energy-efficient VRF air conditioning systems and an adjacent outdoor amphitheater with its stage edging the 12-acre lake.

Doral Glades Park was a unique project that not only earned a Green Globe certification, but also was the first park in Florida to earn a Water Star Certification for reduced water usage. A very interesting aspect of this project is the young adult, interactive museum that surrounds a sculpture created by a blacksmith and the community. The community was able to create and design their own leaves that were then joined with the actual sculpture to show how engaged Doral is with the community.

Barbara Hernandez, the previous Parks and Recreation director who is now city manager, said, “People cannot get enough of how beautiful the building is. Your design was well thought out. Not only is it beautiful, but it is functional. Two very important qualities. I truly appreciate your hard work and passion.”

Doral Glades Park took an Honorable Mention at the 2019 Fort Lauderdale Chapter American Institute of Architecture Design Awards.   RM




Alycia Oppenheim is the marketing coordinator for CPZ Architects Inc. Alycia has been in the AEC industry for six years, but was given the opportunity to join CPZ in 2022.



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