NAC Architecture completed a grant scope, conceptual plan and cost estimate for the proposed Oak Canyon Environmental Learning Center in Anaheim Hills, California. Upon completion, this facility is intended to serve as an example of sustainable building practices, which will demonstrate careful planning to visitors and the community, inspiring them to implement sustainable methods in their home environments.
The building is carefully sited to both immerse visitors in the natural features of the canyon and take advantage of a sloping terrain to enhance building performance. Solar orientation, climatic, wind, and topographical data were all used to shape the building’s footprint, overall form, and siting. The building footprint has been configured to work with the existing topography. The grade of the site allows for an earth-embedded structure with a habitable roof. This composition blends the figure of the building into the existing landscape while providing natural insulating properties. Within this overall concept, strategies for heating, cooling, and daylighting further develop the envelope of the building.
The siting of the building 10 feet above the parking area and across a stream from an existing facility requires a number of ramps and switchbacks to navigate the terrain. These elevation changes will provide numerous opportunities for visitors of all abilities and generations to experience a large and diverse portion of the site from a number of different perspectives. Upon completion, this project is anticipated to be certified LEED Silver by the United States Green Building Council.