National park focuses on visitor experience for design competition

August 16, 2011 |

The National Park Service and the Van Alen Institute invite colleges of architecture, landscape architecture and related disciplines to participate in a design competition to look at the visitor experience of the future.

“The iconic national park visitor centers born in the 1950s and envisioned as the park gateway may not serve that purpose for today’s visitors,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.

“Many people – and not just those under 30 – plan their visits online, downloading information to iPhones, iPads, or Droids,” Jarvis said. “There is no question that people should be able to talk to a real park ranger but is the visitor center in its current form the best way to achieve this? My hope is that the competitors will closely examine national parks, even the very concept of the visitor center.”

As the competition begins this fall, multidisciplinary teams from universities across the nation will propose models for the design, management, and operation of one of seven national parks. The proposals will be based on faculty and student research that focuses on the park’s unique character, issues and challenges. The National Park Service, in collaboration with the Van Alen Institute, selected different types of parks and visitor experiences for faculty/student teams to explore:

  • Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, Pa.
  • Civil War Defenses of Washington, D.C.
  • Biscayne National Park, Fla.
  • Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Ga.
  • Nicodemus National Historic Site, Kansas
  • Valles Caldera National Preserve, N.M.
  • San Juan Island Historical Park, Wash.

Click here for competition guidelines and more information.  

Overlay Init