Revitalizing a south Louisiana wetlands mitigation bank, this project envisions a vibrant educational and recreational center, generating substantial social and ecological advantages. Set in the heart of St. Gabriel, a historically disenfranchised community, and making up more than 10% of the city’s land mass, Spanish Lake Ecological Educational Center (SLEEC) delivers a much-needed amenity to a historically underserved part of Iberville Parish. It also breathes new life into wetlands recovering from more than a century of commercial overuse.
The job of Reich Landscape Architecture was to solve the problem of what to do with a 4,000-acre mitigation bank in the midst of restoration. SLEEC creates a living classroom in the Louisiana wetlands, providing underserved school children in the region a unique opportunity for experiential STEAM learning. Moreover, hiking, biking and walking trails bring recreational benefit to the surrounding community, which suffers from a 42.1% obesity rate -- even higher than the Louisiana average. SLEEC has an intrinsic multiplier effect. It protects and sustains the basin as a forested wetland ecosystem, while providing hands-on learning and greenspace to a community that has suffered from generational poverty and inequities in public health and education.
Serving both people and the environment, SLEEC’s manifold benefits include education and recreation for underserved communities, and the restoration of one of south Louisiana’s most important wetlands.
St. Gabriel, LA
NRP, Lake Flato Architects, Franklin Associates
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October 6, 2023