“We are not just building a shelter: we are creating a teaching tool and a model for others who want to make environmentally sound choices.” – Luke Gascho

Inspiration for Rieth Village began with the establishment of the 1,189-acre Merry Lea nature preserve, which became the responsibility of Goshen College in 1980 through a gift from Lee and Mary Jane Rieth in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy. The mission and philosophy that direct Merry Lea’s role in the educational community lead Luke Gascho, retired Executive Director at Merry Lea, to envision a sanctuary not only for native plants and animals in Indiana, but also a place for innovative ideas about how the people who use Merry Lea can do so without exploiting the land or excessively disturbing ecosystems.

Part of this mission can be fulfilled by examining the footprint that we as humans leave on the natural world. As citizens of a global community, and also as members of a natural community, we envision being part of an environmentally literate citizenry that makes daily decisions about energy consumption, materials use, and land & water management with future generations in mind. This vision guides choices we make when designing and constructing the buildings in which we live, work, and study.

This vision became a reality at Merry Lea in 2006 with the completion of Rieth Village, the first building project in Indiana to achieve LEED platinum certification. Inspiration for the aesthetic design of Rieth Village came from its unique rural setting in the 1,189-acre Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College. Merry Lea is surrounded by primarily agricultural land, and also has ties to Goshen College, an academic institution in an urban setting. Drawing from these two relationships, the concept of “rugged elegance” guided the design of Rieth Village’s structure and physical appearance. Rieth Village’s innovative green design is an inspiration to those who work, live, and study in this unique model of how humans can responsibly live in the natural world. We hope the issues green architecture brings to light about energy, conservation, and our care for the planet will be an inspiration to our visitors as well.