USDA Forest Service | Hudson-Meng Bonebed Research Visitor Center

  • $1.3M
  • 7,000 SF
  • 1998
  • LEED Silver


  • 1999 Honor Award
  • American Institute of Architects
  • Colorado Chapter
  • 1999 Honor Award
  • American Institute of Architects
  • Denver Chapter
  • 1999 Honor Award
  • American Institute of Architects
  • Western Mountain Region

Out on the Great American Plains, where bison once roamed in vast numbers, archeologists now dig. The Oglala National Grasslands in northwestern Nebraska has yielded the largest bonebed of an extinct ancient Plains Bison species, and researchers with the U.S. Forest Service have flocked to the site to unearth the bison remains, along with antiquated stone tools and projectiles. The construction of Hudson-Meng dramatically altered the timetable of the research project by providing year-round access to the bonebed.

The structure was sited to minimize disruption to the bonebed area and to take advantage of an existing pond. The cottonwoods established a natural “place” within the rolling hills. The trees and hills screen the parking. Visitors leave their cars and move toward the pond along the edge of the trees. A bridge serves as a natural threshold and marks the arrival to the visitor center.

Bowstring trusses span the bonebed floor, hovering over the exterior wall panels which are sheathed in galvanized corrugated steel, providing a subtle connection to the surrounding architecture and a figural complement to the gentle rolling landscape. Natural daylight is provided into the research facility through transparent wall panels. Coiling overhead doors open to capture natural ventilation. Metal cisterns collect rainwater that is then utilized by researchers in cleaning bone specimens. Catwalks along the periphery and a mobile bridge that traverses the floor provide access to the bonebed.

Contact AMD

3198 Speer Boulevard
Denver Colorado 80211

303 294 9448
fax 303 294 0762