The Lands End Lookout is the newest visitor center in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The new building and landscape design for the site protects the beautiful and rugged coastline of San Francisco, while making it more visible and accessible to all visitors. Home to a unique combination of outdoor exhibits, view terraces and gathering spaces, the Lands End Lookout will recount the many stories of Lands End and the Sutro Baths and provide an improved visitor experience to the countless people who visit every year.
Many visitors to the Lookout arrive along the wild and rocky Coastal Trail, which traverses the cliffs stretching from Baker Beach to Lands End. Along the way, hikers pass hillsides of cypress and wildflowers, taking in views of old shipwrecks, and eventually climb the stairs to reach the epic ruins of the Sutro Baths.
The Lookout is designed to frame the spectacular view to the ocean and ruins of the baths below. The building and its related outdoor spaces yield to the natural landscape allowing it to be the main focus while remaining firmly rooted to the rugged edge of the Pacific. The new landscape design and the architecture blend seamlessly with the surrounding landscape as if to disappear. The shifting concrete wall planes of the Lookout building stretch out to embrace the dune scape, evoking and expressing the evolution of the site and its vital and dynamic natural environment. The Lookout also provides a location for outdoor exhibits and artifacts.
Materials used in construction of the outdoor spaces are rustic, echoing the residue and remains of what has been worn away and eroded by the unrelenting wind and water that come from the sea. Substantial markers in the entrance garden made of large rustic timbers are aptly named “dune screens” so as to mark the movement of shifting sand while serving as guideposts for visitors.