Tucked away in a remote area of northern Alberta’s Slave Lake Provincial Park, this bird conservation centre is the only educational and research facility in the world strategically located to study boreal species in their breeding grounds. It houses office spaces, laboratory and a library for researchers, as well as an exhibit space for the public.

Project Essentials

  • LocationSlave Lake, AB
  • ClientAlberta Parks and Protected Areas (Alberta Community Development) / Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory
  • ArchitectReimagine (Manasc Isaac Architects)
  • Size6,000 ft² (557 m²)
  • BudgetC$2 million
  • Certified LEED GoldCertified LEED Gold

Inspired by a bird in flight, the inverted roof form is local in character, yet at the same time light, agile, and dynamic. Fast + Epp developed a supporting structure that features a system of king-post trusses based on standard dimensional lumber – a staple of the region’s forest industry.

Multiple 2×10 members were used for the top chords and 2×4 members for the triangular king posts. Rather than laminating them together, they were spaced to create a light, filigreed effect. The bases of the king posts are connected by a single solid cylinder of Brazilian hardwood, which provides the fulcrum for the multiple tension cables.

This is a prime example of how creatively using basic products and materials has become an important aspect of Fast + Epp’s work. With simple solutions, we create economical solutions that exceed our clients’ expectations for aesthetic appeal, sustainability and long-term operational performance.