RelevanceMerging with Landscape
Exploration and Discovery
Encouraging Social Interaction
View from Highway 159
The new Visitor Center is sited along a ridge. Utilizing earth berms, the facility blends seamlessly into the surroundings, reducing visual impact from offsite.
Greeting visitors entering the National Conservation Area, the new Contact Station uses natural materials such as concrete masonry, steel and glass to help unify the building with the landscape.
The entry to the Arrival Building is sheltered by a "big hat" (a roof with deep overhangs and skyholes) which creates intermediate thermal transition zones and forms the collection plane for rainwater harvesting. Graphic interpretive bands reflecting the colors of the four elements (Earth, Fire, Air, Water) provide wayfinding to exhibits throughout the facility.
Within the Arrival Building, visitors are drawn to a panoramic view of the Calico Hills, one of Red Rock Canyon's most spectacular rock formations.
As visitors move from the interior arrival experience to the oudoor exhibits, large roof planes with skyholes provide thermal and visual transition zones. These zones alleviate shock to users' senses by providing a place where eyes and skin can adjust while moving between the cool, shaded interior and hot, bright exterior.
Integral to the architecture, interpretive exhibits are designed as abstractions of the surrounding Red Rock Canyon geology. As visitors explore the exhibits, they are protected from the environment through the use of tempered microclimates. Passive strategies such as proper solar orientation and shade help make these microclimates comfortable year-round.
Exhibits include desert tortoise burrows, plant habitats and interpretation on Earth, Fire, Wind and Water, the forces that shape the geology of the Canyon.
Featuring multiple poured-in-place battered and angled concrete walls, this exhibit is designed to be an abstraction of the surrounding Red Rock Canyon cliff habitats.
Section through Exhibits
Earth berms hide a photovoltaic array and the facility from those passing along Highway 159, affording clear views of the mountains beyond.
Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center Complex
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Intended to introduce up to 1,000,000 visitors a year to the wonders of Red Rock Canyon, the new Interpretive Facility differs from traditional visitor centers by emphasizing the specific attributes of Red Rock Canyon itself, in lieu of pseudo-natural imitations. Here, visitors are introduced to the relevant science, art and culture that will enhance their experience in the Canyon; then are strongly encouraged to visit the nearby real thing.
The Visitor Center responds to its environment - transition zones alleviate shock to users’ senses. Controlling exposure to the sun provides shaded, cooler microclimates for outdoor exhibits and activities. Like the desert tortoise burrowing to regulate its body temperature, earth integration of the building insulates, and also conveys a message of resource conservation.
In support of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) mission to encourage stewardship for the land, the design of this facility provides an outdoor experience which will instill, in individuals, a sense of personal responsibility for their land’s well-being. Many resource-conserving ideas are incorporated into the project. The Arrival Experience is sheltered by a “big hat” (a roof with ample overhangs), which creates intermediate thermal transition zones, as well as forms the collection plane for rainwater harvesting (used for interpretive exhibits and landscape irrigation).
High-efficiency mechanical systems are utilized, while daylighting, solar water heating, a transpired solar wall system and a 55 kw photovoltaic array convert the region’s intense sun into free energy. The transpired solar wall provides required heating for the rest rooms, and eliminates the need for a mechanical system in these spaces. As part of future upgrades to infrastructure, a new recirculating waste water system will replace an existing septic system, treating reclaimed water for reuse in flushing toilets.
The project anticipates LEED Silver certification from the USGBC.