Oregon Paleo Lands Institute
2006 EDRA Places International Planning Award
In the town of Fossil, Oregon, the embankment north of the Wheeler High School is one of the few public fossil collecting sites in the nation. Fossil is also at the heart of Oregon’s remarkable Ancient Lands and central to the units of the John Day National Monument. This region is like a vast 10,000 square mile classroom. To enjoy it and use it effectively, visitors and educators need a “base station.” This is why the Paleo Project is not isolated, but is located in the town of Fossil where there are places to stay, eat, purchase gas and supplies, play, and enjoy social activities and events.
The initial step is to build a small building, the Paleo Field House, next to the high school. The high school will continue to operate, and students can benefit from the classes, internships and technology at the new field house. The creation of Fossil Beds Park defines the site and allows sustainable management of the fossil beds. This phase takes care of essentials such as an arrival place, public restrooms, information boards, a path to the beds and controlled fossil collection. The new field house, though modest, is an attractive, well-built building. It is simple and hardworking, with the flexibility of a warehouse or barn. It demonstrates sustainable building technologies and is a base station for educational
programs and research.
The Paleo Center is an innovative hands-on learning center for paleontology and natural resource education. The Wheeler High building, located at the end of Main Street on the site of the Fossil Beds, will be transformed to be a vibrant, sustainable facility. Programs of the Oregon Paleo Lands Institute such as the Paleo Academy, will be based here, as well as school district and visiting programs. The Paleo Center will introduce visitors to Fossil Beds Park, a restored sustainable landscape that incorporates continued fossil collection, while managing and preserving this valuable resource for future enj