San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center

County of San Diego
Parks & Recreation Department
San Elijo Lagoon
2710 Manchester Boulevard
Encinitas, California
$4.3mil; completed December 2008This organic, environmentally sensitive 5,600sf nature center at the trailhead of the San Elijo Lagoon houses interpretive and educational watershed exhibits.  In addition, the building itself serves as an example of sustainable best practices with exhibit panels identifying the & features./p>

The organic shape of the building grew from multiple site restrictions including easements and sensitive habitat.  Partner jean Zagrodnik said “It’s as if the building crawled into the available space, like a crab crawling into an existing shell.”  This unique-shaped form was then organized to maximize natural daylighting and views to the lagoon.  Visitors learn about the native plant and animal life through interactive exhibits while looking out over the lagoon, always encouraged to get on the hiking paths that take them even closer to the natural beauty.

Sustainable features include green roof, recycled materials, natural daylighting and ventilation, storm water filtering, use of reclaimed water for flushing, and photovoltaic panels. Visitors can view the lagoon from an upper level deck that also looks over the green roof.  The trellis of this upper deck supports some of buildings PV panels.

Awards and Certificates

San Elijo Lagoon is one of few remaining coastal wetlands of San Diego County and home to an exceptional number of animals and plants. It lies along the coast between the cities of Solana Beach and Encinitas of San Diego County, extending inland to Rancho Santa Fe. The lagoon is part of San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve, a county and state regional park of nearly 1,000 acres of diverse habitat including six plant communities: coastal strand, salt marsh, brackish/freshwater marsh, riparian scrub, coastal sage scrub and mixed chaparral. In the reserve you can access over seven miles of trails via eight trailheads and encounter a wide variety of flora and fauna.