Portal de El Yunque
El Portal de El Yunque is an exhibition and information center located in a forest reserve. As a center for visitors in a tropical rainforest, it is unique in the Americas and the Caribbean and includes administrative offices, a theater and 12,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space. To meet the requirements of the U.S. Forest Service, three proposals were presented. The one chosen led to the construction of this structure in the forest, organized along its principal axis, perpendicular to the slope of the mountain.
Visitors enter the center by crossing an elevated pedestrian walkway, which places them in close proximity to the very essence of the forest: the canopy formed by the trees. As the façade of the building disappears from view inside the principal space, the ceiling of the structure appears to be part of the forest canopy—here opaque, there translucent, here open and there skeletal. To recreate part of the experience of the forest, some portions of the roof have been left open to the sky, so that rain falls inside in places. The precipitation of the rainforest is also present in the water that flows around the perimeter of the central square and cascades down a rocky bed, built below the structure, into existing natural waterways on both sides.