The Chumash Interpretive Center is tucked away on a wooded site in Oakbrook Regional Park, a formerly undeveloped site that now offers visitors access to a museum and visitor center, an interpretive trail, outdoor amphitheater, demonstration village, picnic site and educational facilities. The purpose of the $1.2 million development is to restore and preserve an awareness of the Chumash people, their history, culture and influence, as well as the historical significance of this Ventura County site.
To support project goals, Rachlin Partners created a curved, board-formed, poured-in-place concrete building expressive of the Chumash culture and sensitive to the surrounding 423 acres of land and forest.
Two factors were critical. First, it was essential to integrate the building into the park setting with minimal environmental impact. Secondly, oak trees have a special significance in Chumash culture. Thus, we designed the Center with a courtyard surrounding an ancient oak that emphasizes the interdependence of natural and man-made structures—and that has become an important social gathering place at the Center. Completed in 1994, today the facility and program are a focal point for cultural education in the city of Thousand Oaks, Ventura County and the greater southern California area.