Driftwood Portal Was an Iconic Part of the Community at CBF’s Brock Environmental Center

brock arch-roberto westbrook-695x352

Built out of local driftwood from the James River and designed by CBF Staff and design firm Gropen, Inc., the arch was a gathering space to introduce CBF’s Brock Environmental Center and its sustainable design.

Roberto Westbrook

Welcoming arch burns down in the early morning hours

The driftwood portal at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Brock Environmental Center was a beautiful work of art and an iconic welcome to Pleasure House Point, a natural paradise in Virginia Beach. The wooden arch was a first stop for visitors from all over the community, country, and world as they set out to visit Pleasure House Point to scout birds, go for a walk with their families and furry friends, and visit the Brock Center. Young visitors were delighted by the wooden and metal Bay critters hidden within the portal’s design, including horseshoe crabs, turtles, fish, and more.

Built out of local driftwood from the James River and designed by CBF Staff and design firm Gropen, Inc., the arch was a gathering space to introduce CBF’s Brock Environmental Center and its sustainable design. Not only did it set the scene for visitors, but it was the first teachable moment for students as they headed out on education programs led by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Lynnhaven River NOW. Students would gather around the arch with educators to start their day of environmental education, discussing topics such as natural environmental filters and methods to reduce runoff into the Bay.

Shockingly, the portal was destroyed by fire in the early morning hours of Friday, Sept. 20. Fire and police investigators have yet to determine the cause of the fire. We are grateful to the Virginia Beach Fire Department for its fast response, which prevented the spread of the fire to the nearby maritime forest.

While we’re devastated by the loss of this memorable piece of Brock Center history, the outpouring of community support since the fire has been heartwarming. Because the portal was a popular photo stop, soon after the fire our social media feeds filled with dozens of shots of smiling families, friends, and pets under the arch (see gallery below). In the following days, locals spontaneously formed a makeshift tribute alongside the ashes, decorated with shells, driftwood, colorful stones, and positive messages.

We set out six years ago to create an inspiring piece of art rooted in the waters and marshes of Hampton Roads. After the fire, we realized the arch took on a life of its own, putting a smile on the face of countless visitors.

CBF will rebuild. We look forward to working with the community to create something just as iconic in its place.

  • Brock arch-Christine Tamayo-550x408
  • brock arch-Angela Pettry Schoolcraft-550x408
  • Brock arch- Lisa Rowe-550x408
  • brock arch-Trista Riley Imrich-550x408
  • Brock arch-Ruth Manlove-550x408
  • Brock arch-Nicole Irene-550x408
  • Brock arch-Lydia Broughton Pugh-550x408
  • Brock Arch-Lauren Kirkpatrick-550x408
  • Brock arch-Kate Beba-550x408
  • Brock Arch-Dave Warstler-550x408

Erica Park, CBF Brock Environmental Center Coordinator

Issues in this Post

Hampton Roads Office  


The views and opinions expressed in the media or articles on this site are those of the speakers or authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by CBF and the inclusion of such information does not imply endorsement by CBF. CBF is not responsible for the contents of any linked Website, or any link contained in a linked Website, or any changes or updates to such Websites. The inclusion of any link is provided only for information purposes.

The Bay Needs You

The 2020 State of the Bay Report makes it clear that the Bay needs our support now more than ever. Your donation helps the Chesapeake Bay Foundation maintain our momentum toward a restored Bay, rivers, and streams for today and generations to come.

Donate Today

Save the Bay

Founded in 1967, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is the largest independent conservation organization dedicated solely to saving the Bay.

Save the Bay
This website uses cookies to tailor and enhance your online experience. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For more information, including details on how to disable cookies, please visit our Privacy Policy. Close