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Marvel leads restoration and redesign of El Yunque Visitors’ Center

Reconstruction & Renovation

Marvel leads restoration and redesign of El Yunque Visitors’ Center

The project cost $18.1 million.


By David Malone, Managing Editor | January 24, 2022
El Yunque Visitors’ Center exterior
All photos: Joe Colón

Marvel has recently completed the $18.1 million restoration and redesign of the El Yunque Visitor’s Center, "El Portal," located in the Puerto Rican municipality of Rio Grande. Commissioned by the USDA Forest Service, the project is part of the agency’s focus on strengthening the recreation offerings of El Yunque National Forest, The only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System.

The reconstruction included the addition of a new entry plaza and gardens that welcome visitors to the center. New passive ventilation was integrated at the exhibit, cafe, and multi-use pavilions, accomplished through new roof structures with clerestory windows and new shading structures. Additionally, a new cafe and a commercial and catering kitchen allow for more diverse uses to the Visitor’s Center.

El Yunque Visitor’s Center cafe

Marvel also designed the only accessible trail in the entire National Forest as part of the project. New interpretative exhibits were designed by Split Rock Studios. The reception desk and interior signage at El Portal were custom-designed and built by Puerto Rico Hardwoods with recycled local mahogany boards from the forest.

After sustaining significant damages from Hurricane Maria, the Visitor’s center has been closed since 2017. The project began in the summer of 2019 and completed in December 2021. It officially reopened on January 20, 2022.

El Yunque Visitor’s Center exhibits

El Yunque Visitor’s Center cafe

El Yunque Visitor’s Center exterior path

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