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THE ELLEN DEGENERES CAMPUS OF THE DIAN FOSSEY GORILLA FUND

Client: The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

Location: Kinigi, Musanze District Rwanda

Status: In Progress

Team: MASS Design Group, TEN x TEN, Local Projects, BuroHappold, Transsolar, AEGIS, Development Solutions, TECHNO Engineering Company, Oak Consulting Group

 

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund is the world’s largest and longest-running organizations focused entirely on gorilla conservation. Even though the group has been working in Rwanda for more than 50 years and has experienced dramatic growth in their programs, they still operate out of rented facilities in the town of Musanze, 30 kilometers from the national park where the gorillas live. None of these facilities were built for their unique needs and do not offer adequate or permanent space.

The Fossey Fund has minimal space for a growing staff, much less for the 400 college students who come through Karisoke each year for training. In order to secure the multi-faceted gorilla conservation work for the long term, provide increasing opportunities for local people and others to become the next generation of conservationists, and to allow people from around the world to join the effort on behalf of wild gorillas and their habitat, it is critical to have a permanent, purpose-built facility to act as a hub. This campus aims to make gorillas the entry point for a lifetime of conservation activism.

 

Located adjacent to Volcanoes National Park, this campus will better serve the Fund’s many audiences - scientists, staff, students, partners, governments, community members, tourists - through an environment that contains elements which have been purposely built for each of them. The campus will also support the Rwandan government’s strategic conservation priorities for Volcanoes National Park, as well as serve as an important hub for the government’s newly established Center for Excellence in Biodiversity Conservation and Natural Resource Management.

The campus will include a Conservation Gallery to house the legacy of Dian Fossey’s work and serve as a key attraction for tourists with an indoor-outdoor exhibit environment; an Education Center to facilitate outreach to students and local communities; a Research Center with cutting edge laboratories and meeting space; and housing for students, researchers and staff. Each of these structures will be surrounded by a landscape of reforestation that exhibits key species that define gorilla habitat. The immersive quality of the landscape will allow visitors to explore the various interpretive trails and propagation areas of the campus as if there on a trek in Volcanoes National Park.