04 | Government Canyon Visitor Center | Lake Flato

Constructed of limestone quarried within 80.5 kilometers [50 miles] of the site, long stone walls clearly define the edge of the recharge zone and anchor the project to the earth. As they stretch towards the buildings from either side, they appear to extrude up from the earth eventually forming full height walls that partially enclose the Visitor Center’s wing buildings. The outer ends of the walls disappear into the native vegetation, returning to the earth. A break between the walls provides a conceptual joint or threshold in the middle of the project site leading to and through the facility to the Aquifer.

The cisterns at Government Canyon – two in the water tower and three underground – hold a combined 67,380 liters [17,800 gallons] of water. Reflective of the natural retention of the Aquifer, they serve as stereotomic anchors to the earth and its systems. As the project is shaped around water, these cisterns tether the project to that primary goal. Two of the underground cisterns are found in the entry court and are topped with concrete planters that hold native vegetation. The water tower dominates the site, looming over the project and serving as a beacon for its message.


View along the stone wall towards the Visitor Center. Photograph by Chris Cooper, courtesy of Lake|Flato