The Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, Rwanda

A sustainable facility with conservation at the heart of the project.

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund’s 4,300 sqm purpose-built, multi-use campus will enhance the organisation’s mission to protect and conduct scientific research on mountain gorillas and their environment, educate future conservationists and support local communities.

Key information

Musanze, Northern Province, Rwanda
Date started:
Completion date:
Client type:
Real estate
Main services:
Advisory, cost and commercial assurance, programme management

Sustainable conservation

Operating in Rwanda for over 50 years, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund is a charity for the protection of endangered mountain gorillas and their habitats.

Sitting on a five-hectare plot adjacent to the Volcanoes National Park, the multi-acre, eco-friendly facility includes three main buildings - the Sandy and Harold Price Research Center, the Rob and Melani Walton Education Center, and the Cindy Broder Conservation Gallery - as well as housing for visiting students and researchers.

The Ellen Campus opened to the public in February 2022 and will serve as a gateway to conservation for the many stakeholders we work with, helping to create the next generation of conservationists.

Named in honour of a lead gift by American celebrity and conservationist Ellen DeGeneres, the campus embodies the Fund’s mission to conserve and limit its impact on the environment. This includes rainwater harvesting, green roofs, the planting of over 180,000 native plant species and a constructed wetland to treat wastewater and promote biodiversity.

Supporting local communities

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund believes that an integral part of successful and sustainable conservation is the involvement and engagement of local communities. Staying true to the fund’s values, the campus was constructed using locally-sourced materials, supplies and labour with approximately USD13.4m invested in Rwanda, 2,426 people employed (99 percent Rwandan) and 23 percent female inclusion

Involving the next generation is also important - a total of 530 technical site trainings took place over the course of the project, including conservation awareness sessions. Every year, the fund works with local primary schools to reach more than 6,000 elementary school children in need of supplies and learning materials, courses and teacher training.

Clear procurement strategy

Commissioned as the owners' representative overall cost managers, we provided independent advisory and cost assurance services to support and guide the project owner through the process of contract drafting, procurement of bids, selection and appointment of contractors using this preferred procurement strategy.

This is a unique approach to the conventionally deployed strategies in this regional market, but through our global experience, we were able to guide the fund through the process and protect their interests using best practice approaches from similar construction projects.

William Evans, Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International said: 

Turner & Townsend is providing exceptional service and assistance. Derrick is highly regarded by everyone on the project including the architect, contractor and owner. They bring valued experience to the project and are very professional.

Photo credit: Mass Design Group

For further information contact:

Derrick Nkera.jpg

Derrick Nkera
Associate Director – Rwanda