An Orchid in the Desert

A trio of County facilities in the desert community of Borrego Springs – the recently opened library, park and Sheriff’s office– have been recognized with a prestigious architectural award. The project took home an Orchid for Architecture during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s Orchids and Onions awards ceremony last Thursday.

Orchids are awarded annually to the best architectural works in San Diego County, while Onions are given to those projects considered to be missed opportunities. The nominees for the awards are selected by San Diego community members and a jury of design professionals and artists choose the finalists in both categories.

“The County takes great pride in connecting our facility and park designs to our local communities and the surrounding environment,” said County General Services Director Marko Medved. “In the case of Borrego Springs, which is recognized as an International Dark Sky Community, the design features focused on the Anza Borrego desert and starry skies while providing inviting spaces for the community inside and out.”

Opened in December of last year, the two buildings and park share a 19-acre property in Borrego Springs.

The library is the larger of the two buildings and occupies more than 14,000 square feet. The branch houses a large 2,215-square-foot community room, a 330-square-foot conference room, separate areas for children and teens, as well as a large outdoor patio with stunning views of the surrounding desert. Since the project is located in a flood zone, the library was elevated on stilts to prevent possible damage during heavy rains.

In an effort to produce 100 percent of the energy required to operate the library, the County recently installed solar panels and shade canopies. The library is also pursuing LEED Gold certification for sustainable building construction and design.

A short stroll across the Walk of the Cosmos, a pathway with plaques showcasing facts about the planets in our solar system, visitors can find the community’s first-ever local park. The park features shaded playgrounds, trails, basketball, volleyball and tennis courts, outdoor fitness stations, a 100-seat amphitheater and an off-leash dog park.

The trifecta of Borrego Springs amenities is rounded out by the 1,600-square-foot Sheriff’s office, which replaced an aging facility across the street. The substation provides a modern workspace to three Sheriff’s deputies and about a half dozen senior volunteers.

The library, park and sheriff’s office were designed and constructed by RNT architects. The County broke ground on the $13.9 million project in October 2017 and construction was completed in just over two years.

Katie Cadiao is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact