Turtle Bay Visitor Center and Museum

Redding, California

1 / 9 – Photo credit: Sharon Risedorph
“This project carries its strength in its exterior, a strong composition of glowing boxes in a pavilion array. We admire its achievement of transparency to the landscape.”
AIA Seattle jury comment



Turtle Bay Exploration Park is a private, not-for-profit educational institution dedicated to interpreting the environmental, historical and cultural components of the Sacramento River watershed. Its 300-acre site, located on the Sacramento River in Redding, California, consists of several distinct ecosystems including wetlands, riparian forest and oak savannah.

The 8,000 square foot Visitor Center was built as the first phase of the project, and is designed to accommodate the movement of people, both physical and psychological, from an existing parking area through the building and onto a boardwalk through the protected wetland. This one-story wood structure is arranged in two parts: as a transparent pavilion that allows expansive views to the landscape, and as a straw bale wall that wraps around the classroom and visitor service wing. In addition to interactive exhibits and ticketing, the Visitor Center also features a gift shop, multimedia theater and visitor amenities.

The design for Turtle Bay Museum was developed concurrently with the Visitor Center, as the second phase of the project. At the north end of the existing boardwalk, Turtle Bay Museum is sited in a natural clearing along the Sacramento River. The eastern portion of the building is raised above grade on concrete piers to accommodate a 100-year floodplain and minimize site disturbance. The 34,600 square foot museum is a two-story structure that contains two art galleries for traveling exhibitions; an aquarium exhibit reflecting the river ecosystem, permanent exhibits highlighting the geology and industry of the region, a classroom, administration offices, museum workshops and a café.

Project Data

Redding, California
1998 – 2002
Turtle Bay Exploration Park
8,000 sf visitor center, 34,600 sf museum


Award of Merit
Award of Commendation for Design