Tahquitz Canyon Visitor Center

Lance C. O'Donnell, AIA and Ana Maria Escalante, AIA

The Tahquitz Canyon Visitor’s Center, completed in 1999, sits at the mouth of Tahquitz Canyon. This canyon of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians is located minutes from downtown Palm Springs. Prior to the buildings construction, the canyon was a safe haven providing shelter and water for the homeless and a place to party for local youth. Unfortunately, this beautiful area overtime turned into an eyesore covered in graffiti and trash. The tribe closed the canyon to protect ancestral burial grounds as well as one of the oldest inhabitation sites known in this region. In 1997 the tribe spent a year cleaning and sandblasting bringing it back to nature and its’ people. About that time, Lance O’Donnell saw an article in the local paper about the tribe’s plans for opening up the canyon and the rest is history. The tribe’s initial idea of a portable building, slowly morphed with their growing income into a 2,300 sq.ft.