Marvel recently completed the $18.1 million restoration and overhaul of El Yunque’s visitor 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 recreational offerings of El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rainforest in the US National Forest System.
The reconstruction included the addition of a new entrance plaza and gardens that welcome visitors to the centre. New passive ventilation has been incorporated into the exhibition, café and multi-purpose pavilions, through new roof structures with clerestory windows and new shade structures. Additionally, a new cafe and commercial and catering kitchen allow for more diverse uses of the visitor center.
Marvel also designed the only accessible trail in the entire national forest as part of the project. New interpretive exhibits have been designed by Split Rock Studios. El Portal’s interior reception and signage were custom designed and built by Puerto Rico Hardwoods with local mahogany planks recycled from the forest.
After suffering extensive damage from Hurricane Maria, the visitor center has been closed since 2017. The project began in the summer of 2019 and was completed in December 2021. It officially reopened on 20 January 2022.