Intended to introduce up to 1 million visitors a year to the wonders of Red Rock Canyon, the new Interpretive Facility by Line and Space 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 Red Rock Canyon; strongly encouraging them to visit the nearby real thing.
The Visitor Center responds to 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 system provides heating for the public rest rooms during winter months, eliminating the need for a typical 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.
A new Contact/Fee Station replaces the one currently in use, and the existing Visitor Center Facility (constructed in 1982) has been remodeled to house flexible administrative offices for BLM staff, including in-house wildlife biologists and environmental education specialists in support of the National Conservation Area.