San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Visitor and Administrative Facility

San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Visitor and Administrative Facility


Chula Vista, California

Located in Sweetwater Marsh, south of San Diego, the new LEED Gold National Wildlife Refuge Complex for the US Fish and Wildlife Service serves as a “portal” to the site, inviting exploration of the Refuge’s trails and allowing for observation of wildlife, environmental education, and interpretive activities. The Sweetwater Marsh is one of the last remaining salt marsh habitats on the west coast and provides an ideal habitat for many endangered species including the California Clapper Rail and California Least Tern. Due to this, the goal of mitigating bird strikes on windows directly influenced the architecture in the form of downward-angled glass so panes reflect ground rather than sky.

The building provides both open areas for collaboration and office spaces for individual work and analysis within the marsh habitat. With a very light, open design, the new building blends into the landscape and takes advantage of the nearly ideal weather conditions by employing natural ventilation, daylighting, and blurring the distinction between inside and out. Building design and specification of systems is highly influenced by site forces and the goal of resource conservation, and includes a 30 kW photovoltaic array, proper solar orientation, angled glass windows to mitigate bird strikes, active and passive heating and cooling techniques, and water harvesting

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