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Revitalizing Rio Salado

A look behind the scenes of the entirely new interactive experience for the Phoenix Audubon Visitor Center.
Authored by
Dennis Bateman
Executive Producer

The Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center in Phoenix, Arizona is experiencing a rebirth, similar to the namesake of its hometown. With a new Director, and a new light rail system soon to be running past its front door, the Audubon Society felt it was time to upgrade the visitor experience, and turned to Ideum, having seen our award-winning work at the Valle de Oro nature center here in Albuquerque.

In addition to adapting some elements of the Valle de Oro gallery, we created a series of new experiences keyed to the Audubon mission and content. One of the new and most engaging features is the Biomes Wall, designed as a multi-layered ‘pop-up’ book illustration, with an audio twist - one of each pair of Arizona-native birds is a monochrome die-cut aluminum profile, each of which lights up and plays the birdsong of the species when touched by a guest.

The client was seeking a one-stop solution for their project, so in addition to the media and other interactive elements, Ideum did the master design, and fabricated all gallery elements, including the welcome desk, activity centers, and graphic panels. The visitor center has a distinctive architectural design, which carries through to the interior of the space, so the Ideum team had to both mimic and also enhance the experience, using design elements that would be retained by the client, while enhancing and improving them, making the space more inviting, more colorful, and more engaging. 

We greatly enjoyed the challenge, and the opportunity to give new life - and sounds! - to The Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center.