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Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center, Church Creek, Md.

GWWO Inc.’s design for the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center in Church Creek, Md., is symbolic of the history on which the center is focused. The 15,000-square-foot facility includes a visitor service building and three adjoining volumes with exhibit spaces. The space between the buildings is a metaphor for freedom; it grows wider as visitors venture north. The view to the south is truncated by the splay of the buildings; it gives visitors a sense of oppression.

GWWO designed the center with a zinc roof on the visitor service building, and zinc roofs and walls on the three adjoining exhibit buildings. Chris Elcock, senior associate at GWWO, says the zinc panels link the design to Tubman’s story. “RHEINZINK was selected to clad the roof and façade of the visitor center because of the attributes of its natural patina process. The inherent quality to dull and self-heal was important because it’s a direct parallel to the story; that’s what we were trying to interpret.”

Dimensional Metals Inc. fabricated, and Eastcoast Exteriors installed, 9,200 square feet of RHEINZINK America Inc.’s prePATINA, Blue-Grey zinc, Flat Lock Tiles.

“We wanted the cladding material to be unique and different enough so that visitors would recognize that there was really something special happening there,” Elcock says.

The center immerses visitors in the history of the Underground Railroad and heroics of Tubman, a famous figure of the slavery resistance movement in the U.S. The center is located in Dorchester County, within a few miles of where Tubman lived, worked, worshipped and led people to freedom as a conductor on the Underground Railroad.

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center is managed through a partnership between the Maryland Park Service and National Park Service. The project is designed to attain LEED Silver certification and was completed in March 2017.