Set upon a site overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the ruins of the Sutro Baths in the cove below, Lands End Outlook was designed as a space for visitors to quickly step into to get a map, grab a snack, or use the restroom. It’s a gateway to the outdoors, which is partly why the 4,150-square-foot structure is so small — visitors are expected to spend only a short amount of time in the building, on the way to or from the park.
During the tour, Schenker explained that EHDD used passive design techniques to naturally heat and cool the building. The building doesn’t just take advantage of natural daylighting, it also harnesses the prevailing winds, allowing air to pass under the building in order to naturally cool it. EHDD is a firm that specializes in aquarium design (the Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of the firm’s more famous commissions), and because of its experience working with salt water, the firm was able to design Lands End Lookout to withstand the salt in the air at Lands End.
San Francisco-based SURFACEDESIGN INC was the project’s landscape designer, and the firm added some very notable contributions. Because the park is operated by the National Park Service, all plants must be native. But, as Schenker explained, NPS’s definition of ‘native’ is much stricter than most — all plants used in the landscape were germinated from seeds found on-site and grown in a nursery in the nearby Presidio. Additionally, reclaimed Monterey cypress wood was used in the benches; reclaimed cedar was used for fencing; and repurposed oyster shells that were found on-site were used as mulch.