The Wilson Center for Nature Discovery is located about halfway up Grandfather Mountain in Linville, North Carolina and was constructed as part of an $8.37M addition and expansion plan. This new space doubles the size of the original Nature Museum, offering more than a dozen new state-of-the-art interactive exhibits that help explore the natural history, flora, fauna, geology, and weather of the mountain. To optimize the natural surroundings at Grandfather Mountain, moveable walls and large banks of windows were incorporated, helping to bring the great outdoors inside.
Bomanite at its Best
In the spring of 2022, Bomanite Licensee Carolina Bomanite Corporation was asked by friend and colleague, Landscape Architect Ron Cutlip, about installing a series of walkways and plaza space for the new addition to this iconic North Carolina tourist destination property. After a site visit by owners John and Donna Fletcher on a blustery early spring day with winds gusting to 30 mph and the temps below freezing, the decision was made to utilize Carolina Bomanite and its team of skilled craftsmen to perform the design build concrete work.
The installation features Bomanite Imprint Systems and showcases the Bomacron Slate Texture pattern with various custom animal print installations including deer, racoon, bear, eagle, and turkey prints. The selection of Bomanite Imprinting Tools is unsurpassed in the industry with well over 400 distinct patterns and associated textures. Bomanite molds are developed from natural products such as stone or wood as well as unconventional surfaces like metal, plastic, or whatever your imagination brings to the table. The animal print installations were coordinated with help from multiple naturalists employed by the Conservancy to ensure realism. The naturalists, landscape architect, and Carolina Bomanite finishers collaborated to apply the prints based on a realistic situation – for example, was the bear trotting, walking, loping, or galloping – this approach was applied to each animal print installation, guaranteeing technical accuracy, and creating exceptional and extraordinary concrete.
Due to a tight timeframe revolving around one of North Carolina’s top summer tourist destination points, work was accelerated with assistance from employees of the Conservancy, including use of their heavy equipment and the equipment operator. Due to the harsh winter temps and weather, all concrete was placed on a minimum of 6”-8” of coarse aggregate. Even during the late spring and summer install months, it was not uncommon to see fog, sleet, snow, freezing rain, and bright sunshine all in the same day. Owens Corning partnered with Carolina Bomanite to proudly donate the Pinkbar+ composite rebar for this project.
Along with the plaza and walkways, Carolina Bomanite also constructed seat walls cast in place with 300-million-year-old hand and machine placed boulders that later were planted with material native to the mountain in their crooks and niches. Linville stone, a local source material, capped off these natural looking seat walls that are a welcome respite after climbing the mile high swinging bridge located at the top of this 1,400-acre property.
The transformation of a once barren hillside area was developed into a connector path and plaza leading to the animal habitat where the public can view otter, elk, bald eagles, and black bears. The property is a habitat for 16 distinct ecological communities and 73 rare or endangered species and great care not to disturb the surrounding flora was critical due to the sensitive nature of this property earmarked as a United Nations Biosphere Reserve.
Award Winning Decorative Concrete
With the goal to enhance the Conservation Campus and share the wonders of Grandfather Mountain with more visitors more broadly and deeply than ever before, the Wilson Center for Nature Discovery provides the perfect platform for discovery. Whether experiencing the 16 natural communities that comprise Grandfather Mountain, following migration patterns throughout the park, or exploring the diverse species at the Fauna Wall, the Wilson Center for Nature Discovery offers an educational experience that everyone can enjoy. Carolina Bomanite’s stunning installation enhanced the inherent beauty and wonder that puts Wilson Center for Nature Discovery on the top list of museums to visit and it’s no wonder they were awarded the 2022 Gold Award for Best Bomanite Imprint Systems Project. With over 49 years in the architectural concrete business, Carolina Bomanite provides unparalleled expertise and dedication to excellence, which are inherent in the flawless installation of durable and distinct decorative concrete at Wilson Center for Nature Discovery.