The Whittingham Discovery Center at Mill River Park Set to Open on Friday! - Stamford Moms

Over two years since breaking ground, Mill River Park Collaborative, in conjunction with the City of Stamford, is set to open its brand-new Whittingham Discovery Center to the public on Friday, June 24. The center will be a state-of-the-art visitor and environmental education center that teaches visitors, campers, and school groups about the park’s history and individual connection to nature.

The Whittingham Discovery Center has been a long-awaited addition to the ever evolving Mill River Park. In long-standing master plans, the Mill River Park Collaborative hoped to have a space one day that highlighted the connection between nature and the developing downtown area of Stamford. “Fifteen years later, this center has come to fruition, and we couldn’t be happier to welcome in the public,” stated Nette Compton, CEO of Mill River Park Collaborative. “The Discovery Center will be integral in expanding our programming and environmental education offerings beyond our Fourth Grade Program to students and visitors alike. With a curriculum based on best practices for supporting STEAM and environmental science, we will be able to grow the city’s love and admiration for nature.”

The center’s main purpose will be to provide a place to explore the wonders of nature in the middle of the city. This was the hope of the Whittingham brothers, Andrew and Michael, for who the building is named after. Outside of The Whittingham Discovery Center

The Center will offer STEAM programs with both a classroom and place-based park component. These programs will be augmented by an interactive exhibit space, which highlights the river’s history and how nature and healthy ecosystem functions make the city of Stamford more resilient. In addition, film screenings, talks, interactive demonstrations, science shows, and drop-in public programs for all ages will supplement the hands-on learning experiences that the Whittingham Discovery Center offers while supporting the community.

The building’s design connects visitors to nature through biophilic design principles, a design concept that emphasize the importance of connecting people to the natural world around them. The expansive double-height windows on the north side of the building encourage the visual connections between the center and Mill River Park. The environmental education suites overlook the park, deepening students’ relationship with the environment they are sampling and studying. The green roof and deck further blend the Whittingham Discovery Center into the park’s environment. From this vantage point, visitors can appreciate the panoramic natural vistas of Mill River Park in the heart-of-the-city. Solar panels cover the roof, providing 85% of the building’s energy, in alignment with Mayor Simmons’ goals for Stamford to pursue greater solar energy.

Under the guidance of Michael Stake, Mill River Park Collaborative’s Director of Capital Planning, The Discovery Center will achieve at least LEED Silver certification. “Having the Whittingham Discovery Center obtain this certification means that it will have a positive impact on the environment,” stated Michael. “Throughout the construction process, we have been working to have the smallest impact on the environment as possible, while incorporating features that will give back to the environment once the center is open. For example, we have included solar panels on the roof, a green roof and deck, and double-height windows, all of which will minimize our energy use to operate the building, thus reducing our carbon emissions.”

The dedication for the Whittingham Discovery Center took place on the evening of May 5th at Mill River Park. It was a momentous event, with Connecticut Representative Jim Himes, Governor Ned Lamont, and Stamford Mayor Caroline Simmons, all speaking about the critical investment made by the City and State in the park development, and the programming efforts of the Mill River Park Collaborative. The establishment of the Whittingham Discovery Center is an emblem of the commitment the Stamford community has made to cultivating the nature that surrounds them.

For more information on the Whittingham Discovery Center and the programs they will be offering click here.

Press release from Mill River Park.

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