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Rancho del Oso Welcome Center

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Early in the morning on August 16, 2020, lightning struck various locations around the Santa Cruz Mountains. What followed — the 86,509-acre CZU Complex Fire — devastated parts of California’s oldest state park, Big Basin, home to three watersheds and some of the tallest trees in the Bay Area. Structures at the park headquarters were destroyed. While much of the park has remained closed to visitors in the years that followed to allow undisturbed regeneration and regrowth, areas surrounding Waddell Creek along the Pacific Coast have begun to reopen to guests, with a new welcome center at Rancho del Oso completed in October 2023. Our team began working with California State Parks and Save the Redwoods League in 2022 to plan and design exhibits for the center. Covive led design of wall motif concepts, panel graphics, and three interactive touchscreens.
Graphic design and digital touchscreen design and development by Covive. Interpretive planning and content development by The Acorn Group. 3D design by James Freed Design with Bo Hick. Fabrication and installation by John Murray Productions. Wall mural illustration by Holly Reed and Gay Kraeger.
Interactive Digital Media, Information Design, Environmental Graphics
Interior of north and east walls of welcome center with interpretive displays.
Welcome Center exterior, a blue mobile building in a natural setting of hills and brush.

What to See and Do

The modular building is comprised of one main room, a restroom, and office. Utilizing the four walls of the main room as a key organizing principle, the design team arranged displays, reader rails, and interactive content to frame the building’s windows to the outdoor natural environment. A floor-to-ceiling illustrated mural wraps three walls, blending seamlessly between forest, wetland, and beach ecosystems, bursting with representations of the plants, animals, and birds which might be found in the park. The graphic displays complement the murals with a vibrant natural color palette and clear, legible typography.

Exhibit design flat artwork of West wall.
Exhibit design flat artwork of North wall.
Exhibit design flat artwork of East wall.
Exhibit design flat artwork of South wall.

Education and Engagement

With an interpretive plan and narrative text developed by Jennifer Rigby of the Acorn Group, the exhibit design team created a number of low-tech interactive displays including flip lids with riddles and Q&A style poems, a button-activated matching quiz, before and after photo sliding panels, and multi-page durable flip books including one with a series of photos of animals whose camouflage colorings allow them to blend into their environments. The result is a welcome center which appears simple and inviting, while offering deeper levels of learning and exploration.

Match my migration game to match descriptive text to a map which lights up when corresponding button is pressed.
Round panel mounted on wall encouraging visitors to find answer to questions by lifting flip lids
Sample flip lid closed
Sample flip lid open
Flip book showing animals blending with their environment.
Exhibit interior
Exhibit interior
Exhibit interior
Exhibit interior
Exhibit interior
Exhibit interior
43-inch touch screen installed in wall mounted panel with Welcome lettering in several languages.
15-inch touch screen mounted on reader rail with NavPad tactile navigation buttons and SoundStik listening devices.

Accessible Touch Screens

Three touch screens, one large and two small, present videos, photos, and narrative about local species, recreational activities, the 2020 CZU Lightning Complex Fire and recovery, and ways visitors can help protect the park’s landscapes and inhabitants. Touchscreen interface design meets standards for accessibility including font sizes and styles, color contrast, and reach distance. In addition, tactile NavPad button interfaces enable non-sighted or low motor function visitors to interact with all content, receiving audio descriptions of on-screen navigation elements and text.

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