Sunnylands Announces Plans to Construct Archives and Administration Campus

Thursday, July 23, 2015


July 23, 2015 – The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands opened its doors in 2012 as a “Camp David of the West” for the President of the United States and as a center for high level meetings and retreats while also offering diverse educational programs for the public. Since its opening, Sunnylands has drawn more than 250,000 guests from around the world to Rancho Mirage and hosted numerous dignitaries, including the Presidents of the United States and China who held historic meetings at Sunnylands in 2013.

This impact was made possible through a major investment by The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that owns and operates Sunnylands. Working closely with the City of Rancho Mirage, the Trust renovated the historic 200-acre Annenberg estate and built the beautiful, award-winning Sunnylands Center & Gardens.

In order to continue to fulfill its mission to serve the community, state and nation, Sunnylands is embarking on the next phase of its development with the construction of an Archives and Administration Campus that will consolidate the organization’s local employees onto a single location away from residential neighborhoods. Employees have worked in various locations and structures on and off the estate since 2009, when the process of converting Sunnylands from a private residence to a public venue began. The move will allow Sunnylands to streamline operations and provide facilities that will enhance the educational and environmental programs offered to the public.
In addition to offices and maintenance facilities, the project includes construction of a museum-quality archives to preserve the precious art and historic artifacts, documents, correspondence and photographs the Annenbergs accumulated over more than 60 years. The collection has been compared to that of a presidential library by Robert Suiter of the Winston Art Group, which appraised the Sunnylands collection in May 2015. “At the core of the collection are decades of Mr. Annenberg’s correspondence with the leading political power brokers of the GOP, the cornerstone of which are his longstanding relationships with Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Reagan,” Suiter writes. “An archive of this nature holds an immense appeal to biographers and historians, not to mention collectors … .” Access to the Sunnylands archives will be offered by appointment to educators, scholars, historians and journalists for purposeful research projects. In addition, select holdings are being digitized for future online access by the general public.

The Archives and Administration Campus will be constructed on Sunnylands-owned property north of the historic estate and immediately west of Sunnylands Center & Gardens. The project, designed by Palm Springs architect Lance O’Donnell of o2 Architecture, consists of modern glass and concrete block buildings set amid desert landscaping.

It is designed with the goal of achieving Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum status, the U.S. Green Building Council’s highest rating. The plan includes construction of a greenhouse containing an engineered wetlands, where ground vegetation will filter water used inside the new buildings and the Center & Gardens and reclaim it for non-potable purposes. The new greenhouse, which also will be used as a sustainability demonstration area, is one of a number of projects Sunnylands has undertaken to reduce energy consumption and curtail water use.








For more information, please email Ken Chavez, Sunnylands Communications & Public Affairs or contact him at (760) 202-2266.