Parks & Recreation: Visitor & Education Center
Clark County Wetlands Park, a 2,900-acre, seven-by-one-mile strip of land on the eastern edge of the Las Vegas Valley, borders both sides of Las Vegas Wash as it flows past Frenchman Mountain and the red sandstone of Rainbow Gardens on its way to Lake Mead.
In the largest open space in the Valley, the Park’s trail system encourages public recreation, leading visitors to appreciate the area’s natural wonders and linking to neighboring trail systems, north into Rainbow Gardens and east to the River Mountain and Lake Mead trails.
The Park and adjacent terrain also offer an introduction to the natural sciences, especially for young people. The Park jewel, the 130-acre Nature Preserve, demonstrates a wetlands ecology, nature’s unmatched water filtering and cleansing system, rich with plant and animal life.
Here is an unusual opportunity to study a desert wetlands, one which transforms polluted urban runoff into clean, healthful water. The Visitor and Education Center building, near the Park’s main entrance at the end of East Tropicana Avenue, anchors the Preserve’s south border. The Center fits integrally with its setting, connecting physically and visually to the outdoors, its long, low profile and subdued colors blending with the natural environment. The simple, folded roof plane angles upward from its northwest and southeast corners to greet approaching visitors and subtly signal its presence toward the scenic drive.
The terrain next to Wetlands Park also makes an excellent outdoor classroom for geology and paleontology, as the desert exposes layers of ancient rock and sediment deposition with its fossil treasures. The Park offers habitat to most of Southern Nevada’s wildlife, including threatened or endangered species, and it presents a living laboratory for the study of desert plant communities, invading exoti cs and the nearly magical ability of plants to clean pollution from both our water and our air. The Visitor and Education Center’s program spaces, exhibit hall, auditorium and classrooms support concentrated field study in the Preserve. Here subjects can be examined closely, particularly the benefit wash restoration has on water quality, preserving wildlife and protecting Lake Mead and the Colorado River System.
The completed Visitor and Education Center is to serve as a primary field trip destination and learning center for school children; a cultural resource for residents, local clubs and convention groups; and as an example of appropriate and ecologically responsible architecture.
Visitor and Education Center Specs