Call it an ‘E.C.O. boost:’ Rome’s environmental education center due for a refit next year.

Call it an ‘E.C.O. boost:’ Rome’s environmental education center due for a refit next year.

From Jones Pierce Studios: “This is one of the design options Jones Pierce Studios presented to the E.C.O. Center team.”


One of the more popular attractions in the region, the Rome-Floyd E.C.O. Center at Ridge Ferry Park — has been in service for a decade, thanks in part to revenue from a 2006 extra-penny tax. It is due for a refit, again using extra tax revenue, and some incredible designs courtesy of Jones Pierce Studios of Atlanta.

There was $3.64 million included in the 2017 extra-penny sales tax package for “waterways,” which takes in funds to help create event space that “will generate funding to increase program capacity and education services offered at the E.C.O. Center,” according to the pitch associated with the tax package. The project should be completed next year.

Here’s what Jones Pierce Studio is saying about the proposal, taken from a Sept. 14 post by the company:

The Rome-Floyd E.C.O. Center in Rome, Georgia’s Ridge Ferry Park, opened its doors in 2011. Since then, it has been providing quality educational programs that introduce people to Northwest Georgia’s native wildlife and informing the public on the importance of natural resources and conservation. Jones Pierce Studios is excited to support the growth of the E.C.O. Center with the development of a new renovation and addition.

The E.C.O. Center is housed in the City of Rome’s freshwater pumping station that opened in 1893. The original pumping equipment is still visible from inside the E.C.O. Center, which was renovated as part of a 2006 SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) package.

The center provides programs for Pre-K through adults and welcomes visitors from across the state and beyond. In its early days, the center served 600 visitors in a typical year. Today, more than 10,000 students, adults and visitors come through its doors annually.

As the center’s grown in the number of people it serves, so, too, has its needs grown for a larger and more modern facility. Our Jones Pierce Studios Commercial team is excited to announce a partnership with the E.C.O. Center team and the City of Rome, where we will make the center’s expansion dreams a reality.

Initial phases of the project: Completing a commercial architecture project, such as this one, requires many in-person meetings along the way. In our first meeting with the E.C.O. Center staff — Director Ben Winkelman, Biologist Jason Hosford and Environmental Educator Sarah Grimes — and Rome City Manager Sammy Rich, we walked around the facility, talked through their ideas for the space and discussed how the city hopes to use the space for events.

The goals for this expansion and renovation project include:

  • A new and more user-friendly, accessible building entry from the center’s parking lot
  • A new lower-level lobby with a renovation of the lower-level pump station into more exhibit space and improved classroom space that will also be used for events
  • Expanded exhibit space on the E.C.O. Center’s upper level
  • A new main-level reception area and office space to provide ample room for the center’s staff work area

As part of the schematic design phase, we presented the E.C.O. Center team with three exterior design options, along with three interior layout options. The purpose of the meeting was not only to get design feedback but to also gain confirmation of our understanding of their collective needs. One of the designs (below) quickly became a favorite and, today, we’re awaiting the group’s final feedback.

Once the design is approved, we’ll move to the third stage of the project, design development, where we will develop drawings for initial pricing.

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