A new addition to Sunnylands is the 17,000-square-foot Sunnylands Center. Free and open to the public Thursdays through Sundays, this new building is where visitors can learn more about Walter and Leonore Annenberg and their commitment to serving their country, to philanthropy, to education, and to the arts.
The Center includes interactive educational kiosks, informational panels and videos, an orientation film in the theater, and selections of art from the Sunnylands Collection. Visitors can also enjoy and explore the 1.25 miles of garden paths that wind throughout Sunnylands Gardens. Through June, a free one-hour guided garden walk that covers design, sustainability, and desert plants is offered every Thursday at 11:00 a.m. No reservations are needed.
Visitors who have preregistered and paid for a tour of the historic estate or for one of our bird-watching tours meet their guides and begin their tours at Sunnylands Center.
See or print a Sunnylands Center guide here.
Por favor ver la Guía del Centro en Español aqui.
The Architecture of Sunnylands Center
Although Leonore Annenberg did not live to see the Center's completion, it was designed to her vision. Los Angeles-based architect Frederick Fisher, who has restored three houses by the estate’s original architect, A. Quincy Jones, references the midcentury modern style of the historic house, with its signature roof, outdoor trellises, exposed wide-flanged columns, and circular driveway.
The Center's two 16-foot-high lava-stone walls, quarried in Utah, are an homage to the 11-foot lava-stone walls from Mexico used by A. Quincy Jones for the Annenberg house. The walls create a grand frame for the Center's interior space.
A Living Room for the Public
Santa Monica designer Michael Smith, who furnished the private living quarters of the White House for President and Mrs. Obama, is the Center's interior designer. Smith emulates the aesthetic of the historic house and the concepts of its original designers, William Haines and Ted Graber.
Smith crafted a relaxing public space with the atmosphere of a grand living room. "It's not imitating the house in any way," Smith explains. "It's just instilled with the feel of some of the elements. It frames your experience as a visitor."
Two rectangular groupings of beige sofas and chairs, and wooden coffee and side tables sit symmetrically on a custom terrazzo floor between the lava-stone walls. Bronze and marble sculptures from the Sunnylands Collection are on display in the Center, including ones by Alberto Giacometti, Auguste Rodin, Jean Arp, and Yaacov Agam.