Coyote Valley Outdoor Learning Center
Coyote Valley Outdoor Learning Center
Coyote Valley Outdoor Learning Center
Coyote Valley Outdoor Learning Center
Coyote Valley Outdoor Learning Center
Coyote Valley Outdoor Learning Center
Coyote Valley Outdoor Learning Center
Coyote Valley Outdoor Learning Center
Coyote Valley Outdoor Learning Center

Coyote Valley is a beautiful public open space of 348 acres administered by the Open Space Authority of Santa Clara Valley. In 2015 the Authority opened the first phase to the public; later in the year, FOG Studio was hired under the landscape firm of Callander Associates to design the next phase, an ADA-accessible loop trail and Outdoor Learning Center. The project is currently in the Design Development phase, and the design team is busy incorporating the thoughtful criteria offered by user groups such as the Audobon Society, the National Park Service, wildlife rehabilitation groups, and local Native tribes.

The Outdoor Learning Center is less a building than a landform. Low, heavy structures, growing out of the earth, make use of local materials: gabion baskets filled with local sandstone, chert or serpentine rock, form windbreak walls of varying heights. The path from the parking area curves around a serpentine knoll and between two large oaks, gradually revealing behind bermed earth this structure that appears as traces of history in the landscape. The OLC is the first and largest of the nodes which encircle the flat valley floor along the accessible loop trail.  The sinuous gabion walls curve around a gathering space for sixty people, and offer protection from the strong southern morning winds and the powerful western adternoon winds that whistle through this valley. A painted frame of lightweight steel supports a corrugated Corten roof in a butterfly formation, which discharges rainwater into a heavy central scupper and out into a rocky swale.

The gabion walls enclose an additional vault toilet as well as a storage area with barn-style sliding doors; the doors serve double duty as projection surface for presentations. A photovoltaic system with stand-alone battery storage will provide enough power to charge Rangers’ radios and patrons’ wheelchairs – and even musical equipment and safety lights for the community events which take place in Coyote Valley several times a year.  Construction is estimated to be complete October of 2017.

Coyote Valley Outdoor Learning Center

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