Must See Green American Landmarks
The Nature Center: World Birding Center, Bentsen—Rio Grande Valley State Park, Mission, Texas
Avid birders know that the Rio Grande Valley is the place to be if you want to glimpse a Swainson’s hawk or a green jay or any one of hundreds of species that favor this unique ecosystem of thornscrub and subtropical woodland. The World Birding Center maintains nine protected habitats along the Mexican border, from the Roma Bluffs to South Padre Island. Roughly in the middle, its headquarters sits on 750 acres in Mission, Texas, and was designed by the San Antonio architectural firm Lake/Flato to be equally hospitable to humans and birds. The buildings, situated in what had once been onion fields, are a graceful variation on the Quonset hut, a style chosen for its ties to the area’s agricultural heritage and because, as architect Bob Harris puts it, “the purity and simplicity of its form fits in a stark landscape.” The distinctive curved roof also handily channels rainwater into a collection system that supplies “guzzlers” for the birds and maintains the mud puddles that keep the dragonflies happy.