New Katahdin Woods and Waters NM Contact Station is Beautiful — and Bird Safe

Last week, our friends at Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters announced a campaign to build a new contact station to welcome visitors to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. The Tekαkαpimək Contact Station, a name translated from the Penobscot language to mean “as far as one can see” and is pronounced de gah-gah bee-mook, is a striking building.

Designed in collaboration by Elliotsville Foundation, representatives of the Wabanaki Nations, Saunders Architecture, Reed Hilderbrand Landscape Architecture, WeShouldDoItAll, Tuhura Communications, Erin Hutton Projects, and the National Park Service, the building is not only visually beautiful but a model for modern, sustainable architecture. Among the forward-thinking design features employed in the building include: an innovative use of nominal lumber; on-site landscaping material; off-grid and mainly passive utilities include solar, shading, ventilation, radiant floor heat, and thermal mass Trombe walls.

And after consultation with Maine Audubon, the building’s windows are also bird safe. Maine Audubon’s Nick Lund met with the planning team during the design phase of the building in 2022 to share his knowledge of bird collisions. The architects and the National Park Service wanted information about the threat to birds from locating a building with large windows in a forested setting, and hoped to learn about ways to provide good views from the building while still protecting birds.

Bird-glass collisions are a major threat to birds, killing up to one billion birds per year in the United States. Birds are tricked by glass reflecting sky or habitat, or are fooled by the transparency of glass when lit from within. BirdSafe Maine was founded in partnership with Maine Audubon, the Portland Society for Architecture, and the University of Southern Maine to educate architects and the general public about the glass threat, and take action. Together we’ve worked for more than three years to monitor collisions around Maine, consult with the building industry, and promote policy solutions.

The message is resonating with the team behind the Tekαkαpimək Contact Station, who were eager to act. In the end, they went with a ceramic frit pattern from Walker Glass that will give birds the indication they need that the windows are there. We were honored to play a small role in the design of this beautiful new building, and look forward to visiting this new gateway to Maine’s incredible new national monument.

Details of the contact station’s new large windows, with ceramic fritting. The pattern breaks up the reflection, letting birds know to avoid the windows while providing minimal visual disruption for humans.

Read more about where to find birds at Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument!