| Valle de Oro Visitor Center | National Wildlife Refuge | New Mexico
The design concept seeks to make a statement as an URBAN National Landmark, to educate and inform locals and visitors. The building form aims to steward the Historic passages imbedded in this land. Merging the building form with the experiential nature of the “interpreted” landscape.
Both form and program cantilever from a towering structure that symbolises the Torreones that once existed in the marshlands of Northern New Mexico, along the Rio Grande, allowing visitors to experience extended vistas from an elevated steel structure that parallels existing rail-way tracks, acknoledging the industrial aspect of the surrounding context and articulating the North/South axis of the Rio Grande, and the historic Camino Real.
Part of the program is inverted vertically, to aid in accessing the tree-tops to experience the canopy of native cottonwood trees that existed in this landscape from the cantilevered steel structure that spreads out a concrete tower foundation, providing views of the entire site and mountains in the distance, to encourage a greater connection to our environment by acknowledgeig the sources of water from the Rio Grande (west) and the Tijeras Canyon (East). The site design is kept minimal, including minimization of site disturbance, with an orchard of threes to densify (URBAN) the immediate building area and make the building look as if its floating above a gold canopy of trees during its seasonal esplendor. Integrated North and South coutyards that facilitate events and gatherings withing its grounds and stimulate awareness and preservation of existing network of historical passages within the cultural landscape. Interpreted ponds across the builiding on a East/West axis further engage the adaptive reuse of existing network of arroyos. The main lobby at the fifth floor fortifies the concrete, glass and steel building experience, offering a glass-walled atrium and access to an interpretave marsh garden open to the sky above. Utilization of regional materials, such as steel, concrete and copper, for having its roots in the American West and for its high recycling value, solar power, composting toilets, rainwater and gray-water harvesting are also to be incorporated into the desgin of the building.