Big Break Visitor Center

Big Break Visitor Center is the go to place to learn about the complex environmental issues facing the California Delta. As the first new visitor center built by the East Bay Regional Park District, it is intended to set a new standard for future facilities within the district.

In developing the visitor center we set out to create exhibits that can easily change over time. The park district had many resources to help in this effort, including on-site staff whose existing roles could be utilized to help create new and changing content to be shared through the exhibits.

I acted as project lead within our studio. We worked closely with park district staff to utilize the districts skills and assets to create rich exhibit content within the budget. We partnered with Pacific Studio to deliver design, fabrication and installation under one contract.


The primary message of the center: The Delta is the heart of California, is expressed through a digital periscope. Visitors see a 360 degree view from several thousand feet above the center allowing them to see how nearly all of the  state’s water infrastructure flows through the Delta and past Big Break just outside the visitor center.


A large scale satellite image of California supports numerous staff lead activities explaining natural and man made water features across the state.


Magnetic labels can be switched out depending upon the focus of a particular staff lead demonstration.


Staff easily provide real-time updates on activities in the park on a large dry-erase park map. The latest photos of the park can also be uploaded at the front reception desk and displayed on the monitor at left.


An RFID (radio frequency identification) system enables park staff to assemble short videos that connect items found in the park to important species and issues in the California Delta.


A large tabletop atlas explores significant past and present plans for the California Delta. Additional printed resources stored below are accessed by park staff for directed activities.


A drawing station allows visitors to draw Delta species by tracing or from adjacent specimens taken from the park district’s collection.


Visitors wander, crawl and climb to find animals and plants that live in the modified landscape that is the Delta today.


This muskrat is one of several touchable species within the Delta landscape.


Client:              East Bay Regional Park District

Location:         Oakley, CA

Floor Area:      2000 sq. ft.

Budget:            $800,000

Opening:          2014

Contact:           Mike Moran, Chief Naturalist