Nature, Culture, Craft: Re-thinking the National Park Visitor Experience
Rubenstein, Michele L.
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This thesis explores the role that architecture might play in the experience of wilderness. This case study focuses specifically on how architecture in the National Parks serves as a threshold to nature. The National Park building tradition began in the 19th century with the grand lodges of the west sponsored by the railroad. With the advent of the automobile, the visitor center typology was developed and the architecture shifted to focus on personal visitor needs. This project attempts to demonstrate how the architecture of an Interpretive Center can provide a destination and launching point into the National Parks. By combining ideas of a "traditional" visitor center with a science and research component, the program can become both educational and participatory. This thesis proposes a design in Apgar Village in Glacier National Park. The design reaches beyond the confines of the Interpretive Center complex to create connections throughout the landscape helping to strengthen Apgar Village as a place.