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Paleontological Research Institution
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(Ithaca, N.Y.) January 29, 2014

Despite the frigid weather, progress is being made at the Cayuga Nature Center with its efforts to make the public spaces in its Lodge more accessible to all visitors. The enhancements, which are sensitive to the historical appearance of the WPA-era building, will provide a more welcoming experience by summer 2014.

The alterations will include wheelchair ramps at the new building entrance, an accessible lift to the second floor, a large double-door entrance, and a new lobby and reception area. The Paleontological Research Institution (PRI) merged with the Nature Center in 2013 and these enhancements are part of a larger strategic multi-phase effort to develop a “new” Nature Center, which will serve as a premier educational venue for teaching and learning about the natural history of the Cayuga Lake basin. Future exhibits and programming will focus on the local climate, evolution, forest ecology, flora and fauna, and human impacts.

PRI Director Dr. Warren D. Allmon explains that, “We want to make the experience of the person using the ramp or lift as enjoyable as the person using the stairs.” Designer of the project, Ithaca architect Claudia Brenner, emphasizes how the history of the 1939 Lodge guided the design of the renovation. Brenner states, “The new entrance and interior lift will make the Cayuga Nature Center more accessible. The proposed canopy reflects the historic porch, which was enclosed in the early 1990’s. The stonework and lighting will complement the historic features of the existing building.” McPherson Builders of Ithaca is the general contractor. Both architect and contractor have extensive experience in accessibility and historic preservation projects.

PRI is still raising funds to complete these enhancements as part of its Rock the Future: Inspiring the Earth Scientists of Tomorrow campaign to introduce Earth Science concepts and provide climate change education to more than 350,000 visitors over the next 10 years. The quarter-million dollar project is funded with major support from the Tompkins County Tourism Program and private donors.

About the Cayuga Nature Center: The Cayuga Nature Center cultivates awareness, appreciation and responsibility for the natural word through outdoor and environmental education. Climb six stories into the tree branches with TreeTops treehouse. See our live animal collection featuring reptiles, mammals, and birds in both indoor and outdoor enclosures. Enjoy our special toddler playroom. Relax in the WPA-era Lodge after hiking more than five miles of scenic trails traversing 120 acres of natural gorges and wildlife. Enjoy the Nature Center year round: walk among the butterflies in our summer butterfly garden or take to the trails in winter with snowshoes or skis. The Nature Center overlooks Cayuga Lake on Route 89 in the Town of Ulysses, 15 miles west of downtown Ithaca, New York. The grounds and trails are open to the public 365 days per year from dawn to dusk. The Cayuga Nature Center and the Museum of the Earth are public education venues of the Paleontological Research Institution.

More information can be found at: Cayuga Nature Center and CNC Alterations (includes photos).