More than 10 years in the making, the $52.7 million expansion and renovation of the Montana Heritage Center will be a state-of-the-art repository for the state’s historic collections and resources, serving as a place for learning and discovery. When complete, the project will nearly double the size of the existing building and include 66,000 square feet of new space, plus exterior and interior renovations to 66,995 square feet of the existing 1952 Veterans and Pioneers Memorial Building.
The Cushing Terrell design melds new with historic, using the space between the two structures to create a dramatic entry that will seamlessly connect the two facilities. Taking inspiration from the state’s geology, the new building will appear to emerge from the earth, symbolically referencing the Lewis Overthrust, the geophysical collision of tectonic plates that drove one plate over another and helped to define Montana’s landscape.
The landscape design will continue the sense of exploration with features and plantings that mimic (on a micro scale) the journey from the plains and grasslands to the foothills and forests and finally to mountain landscapes. Linking it all together is a river-like trail that will flow from one ecosystem to the next. “We hope the exterior environment provides visitors an opportunity to feel an intimate connection to the spectacular Montana landscape and the people who have lived here over the generations,” notes Wes Baumgartner, landscape architect, Cushing Terrell.
The design concept for the Montana Heritage Center is meant to convey the feeling that nature is a driving force behind why people live in the state. The building’s exterior represents the diverse and ever-changing Montana landscape, the backdrop for the lives of its residents. From the inside, the building is a vessel that preserves and highlights the remarkable stories of Montana’s people. With a commitment to sustainability and creating healthy spaces, the project is pursuing both USGBC LEED and IWBI WELL certifications and is anticipated to be complete in 2024. Source by Cushing Terrell.
- Location: Helena, Montana, USA
- Architect: Cushing Terrell
- Interpretive exhibit consultant: Main Street Design
- Acoustical consultant: Big Sky Acoustics
- Construction contractor: Sletten Construction
- Client: State of Montana, Department of Administration / Montana Historical Society
- Year: 2020
- Images: Courtesy of Cameron Macallister Group