International Owl Center

Houston, Minnesota
21,920 sf
Architecture Master Planning Interior Design

The International Owl Center, the only all-owl education center in the US, is spreading its wings! Their mission to create a better world for owls takes a giant leap forward with a brand new, state-of-the-art facility.

This new center will be a haven for owls, visitors, and staff alike. Nestled on a 4.5-acre site brimming with native vegetation (no mowing needed!), the building itself will be a marvel of sustainability, utilizing both solar and geothermal energy to minimize its environmental footprint with an aim towards being net-zero . Special Kalwall panels will bathe the interior in natural light while preventing bird collisions from both inside and outside.

Step into the spacious gift shop, then explore the wonders of the display area. Watch the dedicated staff prepare meals for the owls, and observe the owls residing in unique two-part aviaries. One section is climate controlled, while the other is open to ambient weather – connected by a special “pet door” for the owls to choose their comfort zone. This flexibility allows the center to house owls from a wider range of climates.

The evening room, a calming space with motion-activated lights, showcases mounted owls of various species while their calls fill the air. For younger visitors, the children’s room is packed with interactive activities. If feeling overwhelmed, a calming room offers a quiet space for both adults and children to recharge, including a designated area for nursing mothers.

A large, flexible program room can be divided or opened up to accommodate both special group sessions and public programs. Staff offices directly overlook the program bird aviaries, fostering a close connection. An online program room and the Owlmobile garage are conveniently located nearby, keeping the program owls readily available but comfortably out of sight when not performing. School groups can enter through a separate entrance, heading straight to the program rooms without disturbing the general public.

The centers highlight is the walk-through aviaries, where visitors come face-to-face with the owls in a specially designed environment that respects their natural instincts. Inspired by decades-old research from Wolfgang Scherzinger, these innovative aviaries ensure the owls feel comfortable while visitors experience the magic of these magnificent creatures up close. Covered walkways provide protection from insects, rain, and snow, ensuring a comfortable experience for both owls and visitors.

The International Owl Center’s new facility promises an unforgettable experience for all. Prepare to be awed by the wonders of owls and inspired by the center’s dedication to their conservation!

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