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.
Harvesting free energy from the sun, a 55 Kw array provides power to the new Visitor Center complex and is an interpretive opportunity for visitors.
Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center Complex - near Las Vegas, Nevada
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Introducing 1,000,000 visitors a year to the wonders of Red Rock Canyon, the new LEED Gold Interpretive Facility for the US Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management differs from traditional visitor centers by emphasizing the specific attributes of Red Rock Canyon itself, in lieu of pseudo-natural imitations. Here, visitors receive an introduction to the relevant science, art and culture that will enhance their experience in Red Rock Canyon, strongly encouraging them to visit the beauty of the real thing nearby. Many resource-conserving ideas are incorporated into the Visitor Center, including photovoltaics and the first institutional use of transpired solar collectors, but by far the largest savings came from re-thinking the design program and relocating exhibits from air conditioned interior space to fully day lighted passive/active tempered microclimates.
The Visitor Center recently received an international award of architecture from the European Centre for Architecture, Art, Design, and Urban Studies/Chicago Athenaeum.