The project team, led by architect Drew Hubbell and artist James Hubbell, designed this unique Interpretive Center to appear to grow out of the site and create a connection to the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve. With a requirement of building within the footprint of an existing 1,000 sq ft display structure in the Reserve parking area, the off-grid project also needed to be fire-, flood-, vandal-resistive.
Green and artistic design features include:
- Walls constructed of reinforced Perform Wall—highly-insulated polystyrene and concrete forms made of 85% post-consumer recycled content. The panels are filled with concrete, adding even more insulation and durability for this fire- and flood-prone site.
- A living roof and raised planters surrounding the outside walls helps the Center blend into the site, and provides additional insulation.
- Water run-off from the living roof helps irrigate the surrounding planters, reusing and reducing water consumption.
- Photovoltaic panels to provide all energy for this off-grid building.
- Heating and air-conditioning systems were omitted in favor of natural and passive systems. The roof is vaulted to the south, assisting in natural daylighting and passive heating and cooling. Slot windows in rear wall and an operable skylight help provide natural ventilation.
- Art elements include a ceiling mural of the four seasons along the river, mosaic tile inlaid in the floor representing how the Escondido Creek runs into the Pacific, and cast concrete columns with sculptural details.
A joint effort between the Olivenhain Municipal Water District and the Escondido Creek Conservancy, this “jewel on Escondido Creek” provides ranger staff presence, environmental education about the unique native plants and wildlife that inhabit the preserve, and offers a pleasant meeting place at the entrance to the recreational hiking, biking, and equestrian trails.
For more info, please visit the Elfin Forest Interpretive Center Honoring Susan J. Varty on weekend days. Schedules and docent volunteer applications are are available on the OMWD website www.olivenhain.com. Learn more about the Escondido Creek Conservancy’s efforts to preserve, restore and protect the natural open space within the Escondido Creek watershed at www.escondidocreek.org.