The Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center is located at Grand Teton National Park’s southern border, educating guests as they enter the 310,000 acre preserve.
The exterior lighting was influenced by RDG's first visit to the undeveloped site. Observing that one was able to walk the grounds by the glow of the Milky Way, and that the nearest street light was fourteen miles away, RDG removed all visible light sources in order to preserve visitors' night vision. This included maintaining lower than average light levels to be mindful of the dark sky country. To illuminate the building, light is reflected off of architectural surfaces: arriving at night, one can only see the warm glow of the exterior wood wall underneath the courtyard's overhang.
The building’s entrance opens to a large gathering space with a fireplace and soaring views to the Tetons in the background. General lighting is provided with discreet track fixtures detailed along the ceiling’s exposed beams. Accent lights highlight the architectural features throughout the sustainable building.
Early design daylight studies aided in optimizing the west-facing curtain wall, where photosensors are linked with the dimming system to conserve energy and maintain consistent light levels with the changing of days/seasons. Additional areas include the director’s room; a multi-purpose space for films, lectures and events; a gallery for changing exhibitions; and the bookstore which supports the park’s programs.