Posts tagged with "National Park Service":

Placeholder Alt Text

The iconic St. Louis Arch is revamped with new landscape designs

“Our project is at the end of a seventy-year project,” said Gullivar Shepard, principal at Brooklyn-based Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA), of his firm’s St. Louis CityArchRiver design. Back in 2010, MVVA’s team won a competition to rework the landscape around the St. Louis Gateway Arch—technically the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial—to make it more universally accessible, easier to maintain, and more integrated into its urban context. Expanding and popularizing the site’s little-known museum was also a key goal. While the client was technically a foundation, the firm would have to work closely with the site’s owner and preservation-minded steward, the National Park Service (NPS). The challenge was complex: The landscape was hardly a clear-cut expression of Eero Saarinen and Dan Kiley’s designs.

Kiley was on Saarinen’s original design team, whose 1947 proposal won the memorial competition. But the project languished until 1957, when funding became available. Saarinen and Kiley were internationally renowned by then, “so they went back to the drawing board, literally, and came up with a new design for the memorial,” said NPS Historian Robert Moore. “Basically, it evolved from a rectilinear-looking plan to a very curvilinear plan that echoed the curves of the arch itself.” Moore described how the curving paths and ponds were Saarinen’s ideas, while the allées and cypress circles came from Kiley.

The NPS subsequently stepped in and became involved in the design, thinning out Kiley’s dense vegetation. After the completion of a 1964 “final landscape plan” with Kiley (Saarinen had passed away in 1961), the NPS continued without him. Money to build the landscape only became available in earnest in the early 1970s, with much of the landscape elements in place by 1974, though final plantings were made in 1983. During this time, the NPS made small changes to Kiley’s ponds and the special stairs Saarinen had designed. “Again, [there were] many hands in the design,” said Moore.

The resulting shortcomings are numerous. Eighty percent of visitors, said Shepard, don’t even know there’s a museum underneath the arch. Many drive in from the highway, park on the on-site parking lot, take the tram to the top, and leave. The park is also cut-off from the city by highways, which didn’t exist in 1947.

In addition, the decision-making process was complicated by the fact that “this is not an actual historic landscape or actual historic building or fabric,” said Shepard. “It’s a monument to a historic concept, a moment of time.”

MVVA broke down the proposed interventions into 14 key decision points, each a constituent part of a larger landscape resuscitation.

Ultimately, key interventions included building new, fully accessible paths—embedded in the landscape—that snake down from the arch plateau to the river, replacing the allées’ infestation-prone ash trees with London plane trees, and bulldozing the parking lot to create a new seven-acre park that connects to Washington Avenue, a major urban corridor of St. Louis. The biggest (and perhaps most controversial) intervention was a new circular museum entrance embedded in a berm that leads up to the arch plateau. A new vegetated bridge, which leads directly to the new museum entrance, will replace caged highway overpasses.

While the stakes are high for the memorial, this project could have broader implications for other NPS sites. “This was the project that everyone in the Park Service has been very carefully watching,” stated Shepard. If the NPS, an organization “not built for change,” can successfully update a complex site like this, then perhaps similar projects could be possible in other cities.

Placeholder Alt Text

Only surveillance technology manages this U.S.–Mexico border crossing

In one of the most remote stretches of the United States–Mexico border, a different kind of border crossing has emerged: A remotely managed mash-up of new document-processing technology, rowboats, and donkeys.

The Boquillas Port of Entry (POE) does not have the large processing volume of a typical port on the Southwest U.S. border with Mexico. In high season, the crossing will process a couple of hundred visitors a day; no vehicles are allowed. Most days only a few tourists pass through.

For years, the U.S. government shuttered the remote crossing, citing security concerns after 9/11. Only after National Park Service rangers and teams of scientists expressed a need to reconnect across the binational divide did the port reopen in 2013; a new processing facility was also constructed to manage the minimal security concerns.

It is hard to imagine a less likely area for illegal entry. The crossing is hours from the nearest large city, in Big Bend National Park (BBNP), land controlled and managed by the National Park Service (NPS). The surrounding landscape is majestic, but foreboding for those on foot, with steep canyons, ravines, thick vegetation, and the Rio Grande providing a host of formidable natural barriers. Park visitors are warned of the dangers of heat stroke, exposure, and dehydration, even in mild months.

The binational imaginary here is pervasive and persistent. BBNP is part of the most expansive and biodiverse desert region in the U.S., and shares a transnational ecosystem with natural preserves on the Mexican side. Here, the two nations seem knit together by the river valley, and diverse advocates on both sides voice strong opposition to the proposed expansion of the International Border Fence through the region.

In the early 20th century, landscape architect Albert William Dorgan imagined transforming this land into an International Peace Park, a hyperbolic simulacrum of the real and imagined opportunities latent in border space, complete with replica frontier towns and hydroelectric power. Even in this idyllic proposal, national security concerns crept in—a scenic motorway for tourists was proposed, with a double use to support expedited military deployments.

While cultural affinities remain, the binational dream of a joint international park has faded in the midst of stark juridical differences and philosophies of land management on the two sides of the river. In the U.S., the NPS manages and enforces the conservation and protection efforts. While the Mexican land enjoys protected status, it is mostly privately owned, and is allowed to maintain traditional land uses. Communal land (ejidos) transforms the territory through farming and agricultural water use.

The remoteness of the area, coupled with strong ecological and cultural affinities, has produced unlikely cross-border partnerships, enacting an exuberant transnational territory despite calcifying juridical barriers. Longstanding agreements, in place since the 1960s and more recently amended, have allowed both U.S. and Mexican firefighting services to cross the international boundary within a “zone of mutual assistance”—a ten-mile swath on either side of the border—when property or lives are threatened. Select Mexican nationals form a crew of experienced firefighters—Los Diablos—with permission to work within U.S. territory. Supported by the Park Service and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), they set controlled burns to rid the banks of the Rio Grande of invasive plant species. BBNP has a “sister park” partnership with two adjacent protected areas in Mexico, and park officials travel through the Boquillas POE to share conservation techniques. The reopening of the port has helped park officials to connect more often and more directly, avoiding long detours through “narco territory,” perilous regions with high cartel activity.

The border crossing station is itself supported by an unlikely partnership. The port of entry falls under the purview of the Big Bend Sector of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which happens to have the most “border miles” of any sector on the southwest border with Mexico. Unlike other POEs, it is the first to not be managed on site by U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) agents, but by an NPS ranger. CBP remotely manages the site through nearby mobile patrols of border patrol agents stationed in the park, capable of collapsing on the site in short time if needed. Sensing technology and nearby checkpoints further limit unauthorized movements.

When we visit early on an August day in 2017, we wait for the port to open. It is only open certain days at certain hours. A park ranger warns us that if we do not make it back by the time he closes the port, we will need to stay in Mexico for the night. 

Down a short, winding path from the POE, surveillance cameras and a wake of turkey vultures monitor a boat launch, while a small rowboat grandiloquently named the Boquillas International Ferry shuttles a few travelers at a time across the Rio Grande for a $5 round-trip fee. The river crossing is easy, relaxed—the 30-foot journey over in under a minute. Once in Mexico, visitors can travel by burro, taxi, or on foot to the former mining town of Boquillas del Carmen, about a mile away.

The town is welcoming, but sleepy in the early morning and August heat. Visitors are rare this time of year. Children ride burros to the crossing in hopes of a busier afternoon. When it's time to return, we need to work to get our passport stamped, waking the Mexican customs official and asking that he open the office to complete the processing.

According to a press release in 2014, issued on the first anniversary of the new international crossing, the “state-of-the-art” border crossing employed “cutting-edge technologies” to secure this new outpost, building on the “already robust border security in the area.” As we reenter the POE, this technological infusion is evident, if awkwardly executed. Two kiosks with document scanners are wired into an old-school telephone receiver. Fingerprint scanners, like those now common at airport customs processing facilities, provide secondary ID confirmation. The telephone rings, and a Border Patrol agent located five hours away in El Paso asks a few questions and welcomes us to the United States. If there is robust security here, it is in the untold sensors, cameras, and field agents invisible from this unassuming ranger station.

As congressional committees call for “advanced unattended surveillance sensors” and other managerial landscape technologies to more intensely control the most remote stretches of the Southwest border, the un-monitored border will become an even more distant memory. Clandestine human movement will be discovered less through formal checkpoints and more through distributed networks of mobile, responsive patrols, hyper-managed by a constellation of federal, local, and private actors and technologies.

At Boquillas and a dwindling number of other crossings maintaining an informal atmosphere, generational customs survive by striking opportunistic alliances with emerging security officials and technologies.

The Boquillas crossing can be seen as an experiment in “unmanning” the border, a retreat from generations of border security dependent on human, face-to-face contact in dedicated brick-and-mortar facilities as an essential fail-safe to controlling cross-border migration. As sensing capability improves, buoyed by biometrics, unmanned vehicles, and surveillance technology, we can imagine these encounters of authentication and enforcement taking place even further afield, rendering physical installations and human actors unnecessary.

Placeholder Alt Text

America’s public land is under threat. What can architects do to protect our national resources?

Although debating the ideal size, role, and scope of the federal government is one of America’s great national pastimes, there has typically been surprisingly broad and consistent support for the Antiquities Act of 1906, a landmark conservation law passed by Congress and enacted by President Theodore Roosevelt 111 years ago.

The law, generally speaking, grants the United States government—particularly, the President—broad authority in designating federally owned lands as national monuments. The effort is made as part of a federally recognized network of protections, which includes the National Park Service, in order to retain and perpetuate public use of wild, scenic, and culturally significant landscapes. The Antiquities Act is responsible for securing some of the most sublime and irreplaceable landscapes the country has to offer, such as the Grand Canyon, Giant Sequoia National Monument, Devils Tower, and Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, for current and future generations. The act, more or less, protects America’s—and Americans’—most literal and shared heritage: land.

But like so many other cultural and political norms and traditions under the new presidential administration, the Antiquities Act is facing an existential threat.

This April, President Donald Trump ordered the U.S. Department of the Interior not only to review 27 specific national monuments created under the last three presidential administrations but also to review the law itself, calling the Antiquities Act a “massive federal land grab.” President Ronald Reagan has been the only president not to name any new national monuments; President Trump is threatening to be the first to rescind existing monuments.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke spent the summer observing the new monuments—including Bears Ears National Monument, in Utah, which was expanded under President Obama and has drawn ire from local landowners and politicians. Zinke completed his review in late August but is keeping the findings close to his chest, revealing that “some changes” were in store, without making the report fully public (at press time). It is expected, however, that Bears Ears Monument will shrink in size—current estimates predict it will be reduced from 1.35 million acres to just 160,000—but that, according to Zinke, the government would “maintain federal ownership of all federal land and protect the land under federal environmental regulations.” The move is fiercely opposed by Native American communities, including the Navajo Nation and Hopi and Zuni reservations, which surround the monument.

For now, we wait to see the full extent of Zinke’s report. And while we do not know where the administration’s review of the Antiquities Act itself will head, the effort—when combined with unsuccessful motions to backtrack on Obama-era methane-emissions regulations, successful measures allowing for increased mining runoff into streams, and incentivizing programs for coal projects on federal lands—it is clear the president intends to tarnish the nation’s lands in concert with violating its institutions and norms.

In the same way that architects have led the way in saving architectural relics via support for historic preservation and the National Register of Historic Places—also administered by the Department of the Interior—we must become more vocal in our support for retaining and, in fact, expanding public access to public lands. The National Park System is currently languishing with a $12 billion backlog of repairs. Efforts like the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Hands-On Preservation Experience (HOPE) Crew, which connects young people to preservation-related trades through on-the-ground work, is a positive first step, but more work and support are needed.

As with historic preservation, national monuments exist to perpetuate and preserve our most meaningful and compelling spaces and can, moving forward, even work to highlight forgotten or marginalized histories and cultures. Natural landscapes, like cultural landscapes and historic structures and neighborhoods, are vital to the architectural profession and the country alike.

The federal government should keep its hands off these lands, and architects would do well to fight publicly for their protection. 

Placeholder Alt Text

Washington’s Old Post Office Clock Tower (neighbors with Trump International Hotel) once again open for tours

The Trump International Hotel is no longer the only attraction at Washington, D.C.’s Old Post Office Pavilion on Pennsylvania Avenue. The National Park Service has resumed public tours of the Old Post Office clock tower, three years after they were suspended so the Trump Organization could start construction on the $200 million, 263-room luxury hotel that opened last fall. Visitors can once again go up inside the 315-foot-high clock tower for sweeping views of the city. It’s the highest public vantage point in the nation’s capital, with the Washington Monument closed for elevator repairs for at least another year. Built from 1892 to 1899 to house the U. S. Post Office Department Headquarters and the city’s post office, the Old Post Office occupies an entire city block at 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. It was designed by Willoughby J. Edbrooke, in a Romanesque Revival style, and was the first steel-frame building constructed in Washington, D.C. The central clock tower has an observation deck with arched openings that frame views of the city. The building served as the U. S. Post Office headquarters until 1934. For the next four decades, it housed a variety of federal agencies. During the 1960s, it was the headquarters for the wiretapping unit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, an agency that President Donald Trump just accused of tapping his wires at the Trump Tower in New York. It also has been the headquarters of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, two agencies that may be eliminated by the Trump administration. Under the Cooperative Use Act of 1976, it was opened to a mixture of public and private development. Now that the hotel is open, visitors to the clock tower have to enter through the building’s south side, off 12th Street N.W. Tour hours are Thursday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the last entry is 4:30 p.m.  Tourists won’t necessarily interact with the hotel guests or management; the clock tower tours are run by the park service.
Placeholder Alt Text

Detroit citizens take preservation into their own hands to save a historic Negro League stadium

Automobiles and baseball: Not much else is more American. And Detroit has been defined by both for the last 100 years. Notably, Detroit was one of the most important cities in the negro baseball leagues of the first half of the 20th century. Hamtramck, a town surrounded by the city of Detroit, is home to one of the last remaining Negro League stadiums, along with Birmingham, Alabama, Paterson, New Jersey, and Indianapolis, Indiana. Now, after years of neglect, the Hamtramck Stadium may see America’s favorite pastime once again.

It all started six years ago when a group of baseball-loving Detroiters decided to save, at the very least, the memory of Navin Field. Located in the Corktown neighborhood, Navin Field was home of the Detroit Tigers from 1912 through 1999. Despite being a Michigan Historic Site and on the National Register of Historic Places, the field was razed in 2009. The land was quickly overgrown and, as a result, the Navin Field Grounds Crew was founded. After repeatedly being chased off by the police, the NFGC eventually convinced the city to maintain the diamond on the site of the old stadium.

The NFGC is made up of volunteers and is funded completely out of the pockets of those volunteers. Even so, the crew has been out at the Navin Field diamond most Sundays for the last six years. Now they are taking on a new challenge, revitalizing the Hamtramck Stadium. As with Navin Field, the crew plans to roll out their personal lawn mowers and rakes, and get to work this spring.

The difference this time is that the NFGC won’t be alone its efforts. In January, the National Parks Service announced a $50,000 African American Civil Rights Grant for the redevelopment the stadium. Even before that, a new group, Friends of the Hamtramck Stadium, was making plans to raise funds this coming summer to repair the stadium’s grandstand. 

Built in 1930, the Hamtramck Stadium was home to the Detroit Stars and Detroit Wolves throughout the 1930s. The site of the 1930 Negro National League Championship Series, the stadium saw its share of famous baseball players, including Satchel Paige and Cool Papa Bell. The stadium was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012. Currently, the stadium is in the configuration that was established in the 1970s. The main remaining structure, a large grandstand, has not been used since the 1990s.

Like Navin Field, the hope is to bring baseball back to the neighborhood. As originally built, the Hamtramck Stadium could hold upward of 8,000 spectators. Much of the grandstand is original, but over the years it has been reduced from its original size and is now able to hold about 1,500 spectators.

The stadium wouldn’t be the first in Hamtramck to be revitalized. Last year the Detroit City FC soccer team redeveloped the Keyworth Stadium, bringing another classic civic space back to life. In a time when nearly $2 billion is being spent in Detroit’s downtown to build the Little Caesars Arena and entertainment district, Detroiters are demonstrating what they really value with their lawn mowers and weekends.

Placeholder Alt Text

New National Historic Landmarks in California celebrate Neutra and the civil rights movement

The National Parks Service (NPS) and United States Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced the designation of 24 new National Historic Landmarks this week, ushering the department’s final set of designations under the secretary’s tenure. In a press release announcing the selections, Secretary Jewell focused on the cultural and historical diversity of the sites, stating, “These 24 new designations depict different threads of the American story that have been told through activism, architecture, music, and religious observance. Their designation ensures future generations have the ability to learn from the past as we preserve and protect the historic value of these properties and the more than 2,500 other landmarks nationwide.” The new monuments are drawn from a diversity of sites and range from antique works of infrastructure to noted architectural projects. Among the latter set of new monuments is The Neutra Studio and Residence (VDL Research House) in Los Angeles, where the architect Richard Neutra lived and practiced. The structure is a seminal work of International Style and midcentury modern architectural styles and was used by Neutra as a home office during the course of much of his career. The house was gifted to Cal Poly Pomona College of Environmental Design in 1990 by Richard Neutra's wife Dione and now plays host to cultural programming. Another of Neutra’s works—the Painted Desert Community Complex, headquarters for the Petrified Forest National Park in Apache County, Arizona—was also included in this year’s list. The project, designed by Neutra and Robert E. Alexander in the International Style, features broad, low-slung building masses punctuated by alternating expanses of curtain wall windows and masonry construction. The structure is designed around an interior, gallery-access courtyard and is attached to a Neutra-designed filling station. This year’s list also includes many sites of importance to civil rights movements and to indigenous cultures from across the country.   In the west, the Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission Chapel (McDonnell Hall) in San Jose, California played a vital role in the Mexican American civil rights movement as a place of worship for ethnic Mexican migrant farmworkers in the surrounding community. The building was used as the home for the Community Service Organization (CSO), a group whose work supported the ascendance of Chicano civil rights leader and organizer César Chávez during the 1950s and 1960s. According to the press release, “The work carried out at the chapel ultimately helped shape modern American Latino identity.” The NPS list also includes the settlement in the Walrus Islands Archeological District near Togiak, Alaska, one of the few remaining sites related to human occupation of the Bering Sea continental shelf. The settlement dates to an era of much lower sea levels when then Bering Sea existing as a land bridge between Asia and North America, roughly 6,000 years ago. According to the release, Round Island, one of seven islands in the archeological district, was populated by seafaring peoples who settled the area and practiced subsistence farming and hunting sites. A site known as 48GO305, or the “Hell Gap Paleoindian Site,” in Goshen County, Wyoming was also highlighted. The location is the site of “repeated occupations by nine Paleoindian cultural complexes in well-stratified deposits,” and also represents the only site that contains remains from “all of the cultural complexes known on the Plains spanning from between 13,000 and 8,500 years ago.” For a full list of sites, see the Department of the Interior website.
Placeholder Alt Text

Buildings by Goodhue, Richardson and Vonnegut (yes, Vonnegut) among those named National Historic Landmarks

The novelist Kurt Vonnegut Jr. came from a family of architects, including grandfather Bernard Vonnegut I, a partner of Vonnegut & Bohn, and father Kurt Vonnegut Sr., who later joined the firm. Now one of his grandfather’s buildings, the Athenaeum in Indianapolis, Indiana, has been named a National Historic Landmark. The Athenaeum, by Vonnegut & Bohn, is one of 10 buildings or places that were named National Historic Landmarks this month, along with works by Bertram Goodhue and H. H. Richardson and a film studio and school associated with African American history. The designations, announced this month by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, recognize the properties as places that possess exceptional value and quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States. They also mean that the properties will be added to the National Register of Historic Places, if they aren’t already listed. “These 10 new national historic landmarks reveal important pieces of our nation’s diverse heritage through art, architecture, and stories of community and identity,” said Jewell. The designation “ensures future generations can trace, understand and learn from these properties, which join more than 2,500 other landmarks nationwide.” During the National Park Service’s Centennial year, “we are celebrating the places that tell America’s stories, and these newly designated National Historic Landmarks recognize important experiences that help us understand our history and culture,” said Jarvis. The 10 National Historic Landmarks, with text and images from the designation announcement, are: Ames Monument, Albany County, Wyoming The Ames Monument is a pivotal and highly significant work in the career of Henry Hobson Richardson. The simple massing and naturalistic materials of the Ames Monument, designed midway through his career, are a pure manifestation of a critical shift in his architectural design away from a reliance on references to historical stylistic motifs. Athenaeum (Das Deutsche Haus), Indianapolis, Indiana The Athenaeum was the home of the Normal College of the North American Gymnastic Union for 63 years and the nation’s oldest, continuously active school of physical education. The program educated teachers who directly contributed to the development of physical education programs in public schools across the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The foundation for the success in making physical education mandatory in public schools derived from the Turner movement, an important expression of German-American culture in the 19th century. Gaukler Pointe (the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House), Macomb County, Michigan Gaukler Pointe is a leading example of the mature work of landscape architect Jens Jensen, a foremost proponent and practitioner of the Prairie Style of landscape design. This country estate was Jensen’s largest private commission and represents a fruitful collaboration between the landscape architect, Edsel Ford, and architect Albert Kahn. Interior remodeling of the house by renowned industrial designer and Ford collaborator Walter Dorwin Teague in the 1930s further illustrates the Fords’ interest in modern design. James Merrill House, Stonington, Connecticut The James Merrill House is nationally significant for its association with one of the most significant American writers of the second half of the 20th century. Merrill had a long and prolific career; during his lifetime he published 13 collections of poems, as well as novels and plays, prose, and a memoir, which won every major award for poetry in the U.S. Over time, he introduced more radical material into his poetry, including well-crafted examination about homosexuality, art and spiritualism. He wrote with subtlety and sympathy of gay life, illuminating its anxieties and fulfillments. Man Mound, Sauk County, Wisconsin Man Mound is the only surviving earthen anthropomorphic mound in North America. The form of the figure emphasizes both the skill of its designers and creators and the importance of the entity depicted – most likely either a shaman or a Lower World human/spirit transformation – and thus represents a figure at the very heart of the effigy mound ceremonial complex. Mississippi State Capitol, Jackson, Mississippi The Mississippi State Capitol is a nationally significant example of Academic Classical Revival architecture, providing a remarkably vivid illustration of the nationwide spread of Academic Classicism following the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. Designed by St. Louis architect Theodore Link, the building is notable among state capitols for its unity of design and construction, having been built by a single general contracting firm, W. A. and A. E. Wells of Chicago, within a single three-year construction program. Norman Film Manufacturing Company, Jacksonville, Florida Norman Film Manufacturing Company is a rare, extant silent film studio and the only surviving race film studio in America; it never transitioned to sound production. Richard E. Norman used Norman Film Manufacturing Company as a location for the production and distribution of what were known in the early 20th century as “race films”: those that were made for African American audiences for exhibition in African American theaters and featuring African American actors. Race films featured African Americans in leading roles as agents of action and change. During the early era of film production, Florida, and in particular Jacksonville, was a “winter film capital” hosting a number of studios based in New York, and on-site facilities allowed year-round production of films. St. Bartholomew's Church and Community House, New York, New York St. Bartholomew’s Church is a pivotal example of the work of Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue and an outstanding example of early 20th-century ecclesiastical architecture. Begun in 1918 and completed in 1930, St. Bartholomew’s is a colorful Romanesque structure with Byzantine features and rich decoration. Goodhue’s masterful design is a successful realization of complex functional, aesthetic, and spiritual requirements: a harmonious setting for the Romanesque triple portal and the best spatial arrangement and distribution of masses in which all can see and hear the preacher, view the altar and participate in the service. The design is especially significant within the totality of Goodhue’s work leading to the final stage of his artistic expression embodied in the Art Deco style of the Nebraska State Capitol. The Steward's House, Foreign Mission School, Cornwall, Connecticut The Foreign Mission School (FMS) remains the first and last experiment in a domestically located “foreign” mission and represents educational and social politics concerning racial tolerance, Asian and Native American migration, and American identity in the early 19th century. The Steward’s House was part of a three-building complex that provided an evangelical education for over 100 students from approximately 30 different nations, primarily Asia, the Pacific Islands and North America. The interracial marriages of two FMS students with local white women evoked a substantial public response and brought early 19th-century assumptions about race-mixing into the open, providing a context for national conversations on race and religion in the early 19th century. Zoar Historic District, Zoar, Ohio Zoar was the only permanent home of the Society of Separatists in the U.S., a utopian society based in one location in the mid-to late-1800s. The Zoar Historic District expands the understanding of communal utopian societies in 19th-century America by representing a significant and distinctive community reflecting the traditional landscape design, architecture, and way of life inherent in the Society of Separatist’s world view and beliefs. Many of the intact 19th-century buildings reflect medieval building traditions transplanted by its German-American settlers as well as their customs, traditions and religious beliefs, including their varying attitudes toward gender equality and the role of women within the social and economic organization of these communities.
Placeholder Alt Text

What’s Out There Cultural Landscape Guide for New York City goes live

The new What’s Out There Cultural Landscapes Guide for New York City will be revealed tonight at the AIA Center for Architecture. It’s the second in a series of interactive maps The Cultural Landscape Foundation produced in partnership with The National Parks Service in recognition of the 100th anniversary of their founding. The interactive guide for New York City assembles a rich history of 78 landmarks and public spaces, such as Roosevelt Island, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, the African Burial Ground National Monument, and New York Botanical Garden, pictured above. The project also features profiles of 72 designers who have helped shape the urban landscape and surrounding areas. It was preceded by an edition for Philadelphia and will be followed up by editions for Boston, Baltimore, and Richmond, VA. As a live document, it will continue to grow in its virtual home on The Cultural Landscape Foundation’s website. While the formal reveal will take place at the Center for Architecture tonight at 6:30 p.m., you can check out the finished product here.  
Placeholder Alt Text

In Dayton, Ohio, a struggle to save the Wright brothers’ aviation factory

In the birthplace of aviation, local preservationists and one famous historian are trying to get an airplane museum concept off the ground. The nonprofit National Aviation Heritage Alliance (NAHA), a National Park Service–affiliated nonprofit, manages an eight-county, aviation heritage area centered around the City of Dayton, Ohio. The area's attractions celebrate the legacy of the Wright brothers, the pioneering fliers of one of the first working planes. Now, the group is pushing to turn Orville and Wilbur Wright's Dayton factory into a museum. In a video, below, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian and author David McCullough puts out the call to save the factory, where that famous plane was assembled.
The $4 million initiative seeks to preserve and transform the 54-acre area for airplane production, now abandoned, into a historical site where visitors can see how aircraft were built in the early 20th century. NAHA plans to acquire the property before the year's end: So far, the group has raised around $2 million, the Dayton Daily News reports, with the city putting down $500,000 and the state, double that. Like nearly every Rust Belt city, Dayton was hit hard by deindustrialization and harder still by the 2008 recession. With major employers like National Cash Register (NCR), the Mead Paper Company, and General Motors downsizing or gone altogether, the city's population has declined by 100,000 since the 1960s. Yet city leaders believe that aviation tourism, bolstered by strong transportation links to Indianapolis, Columbus, and Cincinnati, will draw visitors to Dayton to learn about airplanes and you know, spend some money, although the economic impact of heritage tourism is unclear. For more details, see the National Aviation Heritage Alliance's website here.
Placeholder Alt Text

Winner announced for the “Memorials for the Future” competition

The National Park Service (NPS), National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), and Van Alen Institute has announced the winner of the Memorials for the Future ideas competition. Initiated in March this year, the competition has been a six-month process in which participants were encouraged to "reimagine the way we think about, feel, and experience memorials in Washington, D.C., and inspire new memorial approaches around the country." The winning team: Climate Chronograph, comprised Bay Area-based landscape architects Erik Jensen and Rebecca Sunter. The winning pair imagined "a living observatory for the unfolding global story of climate change." Drawing submissions from more than 300 participants, Climate Chronograph triumphed after four finalists were chosen by a jury who looked for "innovative, distinct approaches." In this last stage, finalists were urged to consider practicality, especially within real "technological limitations" and the "current requirements of the commemoration process." Conceived as an "evolving memorial for future conditions," Climate Chronograph is situated in Hains Point, Washington, D.C. Here, the memorial can transform into a new ecosystem as its site—a grove of cherry trees—floods. The memorial is intended to be experienced over a lifetime. In this timeframe, visitors will witness "a legible demonstration of generation-paced change." In doing so, the site memorializes the future and the effects of climate change that come with it. As a result, the memorial can be interpreted as a site that encourages visitors to combat climate change. Meanwhile, the memorial will still remain as a space for the activities such as fishing, picnics, and sports that take place there. During the competition, the Van Alen Institute has documented some "key findings" they observed. The findings, in their words, present "ideas that best push forward our collective notions of memorialization." They are:
  • Engage The Present And Future As Much As The Past
  • Allow For Changing Narratives
  • Universal Experiences In Addition To Places, People And Events
  • Use Local Settings For National Issues
  • Create Memorials With The Public As Well As For The Public
  • Consider Ephemeral, Mobile, And Temporary Forms
  • Memorials Beyond Physical Space
  • Challenges Our Future Memorials Face
This evening, Erik Jensen and Rebecca Sunter's work will be on display in the Hall of Nations at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Members of the four finalist teams will be present from 7:00pm to 8:00 p.m. The exhibition, which also showcases the three other finalists' work, will be free and run through October 20, 2016. The teams will also present their proposals at the National Capital Planning Commission meeting at 1:00 p.m. today, which will be live-streamed at www.ncpc.gov/live.
“The National Park Service Centennial challenged us to think about new ways to engage the next generation and tell stories relevant to them. Memorials for the Future challenged us to think about how we will take the imagination displayed in this ideas competition and use it to spark a new generation of national park visitors, supporters and advocates, not to mention artists, architects and philosophers,” National Park Service Regional Director Bob Vogel said in a press release. “We’re committed to continuing this conversation and engaging people in the stories and commemorations that are important to them and to the shared heritage of our nation.”

Memorials for the Future

The National Park Service (NPS), the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), and Van Alen Institute are collaborating on Memorials for the Future, an ideas competition to reimagine how we think about, feel, and experience memorials. Memorials for the Future calls for designers, artists, and social scientists to develop new ways to commemorate people and events that are more inclusive and flexible, and that enrich Washington’s landscape while responding to the limitations of traditional commemoration. As the NPS celebrates its centennial in 2016, Memorials for the Future creates new ideas for honoring our diverse histories, heritage, and culture. Three teams will be selected to participate in a research and design process, working closely with the competition partners to develop site-specific designs for memorials in Washington, DC that are adaptive, ephemeral, virtual, event-focused, or interactive. The teams’ proposals will advance a framework for the design of 21st-century memorials and provide future memorial sponsors with fresh approaches to commemorating their subject matter. THE COMPETITION
Memorials enshrine what we as a society want to remember. But the places, people, and stories that we memorialize, and the audiences who engage with them, are in fact constantly changing. A memorial tells its story through subject matter and design. This story is often complex and multi-dimensional as a memorial’s interpretive elements embody ideas of identity, culture, and heritage, and each have intensely personal interpretations for every individual. As a national capital, Washington is a place of collective memory. The wealth of monuments sited throughout the city take on heightened significance as they reflect relationships among nations, of national remembrance, and of many important events and figures in our history. Often the traditional and fixed nature of memorial design does not allow for adaptation and redefinition over time, or encourage more than one interpretation of a given narrative. The traditional approach to developing memorials in Washington has resulted in a commemorative landscape that is thematically similar and increasingly land-intensive, which poses challenges for Washington’s urban park system, and has long-term implications for the potential uses of a memorial's surrounding park setting. The planning and design process is often costly and time consuming, which limits opportunities to groups or individuals with significant resources. Current trends raise a number of questions about the future of Washington’s memorial landscape and the ability to provide space and resources for future commemorative works. Location The competition proposals should be based on specific places or areas in Washington, DC. Proposals may take a physical form or may be virtual. Preference will be given to teams that propose a site or sites outside of the National Mall. The following locations are suggestions reflecting typical opportunity sites for new memorials in Washington: Near the monumental core: The Belvedere Within a residential area: Randle Circle or Tenley Circle Around a natural setting: Hains Point For more information on the types of sites in Washington, DC, and these sites specifically, please visit the project website -http://future.ncpc.gov Provocations The following provocations are meant to fuel and direct the competition submissions. Concepts that address several of these provocations are more likely to meet the competition's goals. Memory • How can we commemorate events or acts with long time frames that are still occurring today? • How can memorials be adaptive or temporal rather than permanent? • How can a memorial’s narrative continue to evolve as new generations evaluate its significance within the larger context of our ongoing national history? Identity • How can memorials advance dialogue around contemporary social, economic, health, or ecological problems that have historical roots? • How can memorials look forward while acknowledging a historical event or person? • How can memorials contribute to a more inclusive and more representative national narrative? • How can memorial designs encourage more, rather than fewer, sponsors? Placemaking • How can we memorialize, while also balancing the need for active public space? • How can memorials engage more diverse audiences, in more flexible and interactive ways around a given narrative? • What unconventional physical or digital forms could memorials take? • How can memorials respond to various neighborhood contexts and scales while also commemorating national events or serving the national interest? The competition partners invite participants to propose additional questions. The goals of the competition are to create new approaches to and forms of memorializing: • That advance a framework for the planning and design of commemorative works in the 21st century. • That demonstrate how temporary, mobile, interactive or adaptive displays can provide powerful and memorable experiences that are cost-efficient. • That develop ways to commemorate that are inclusive of multiple narratives and have the potential to be flexible as perspectives change. • That honor the scale, context and national significance of Washington, DC. The competition results will be displayed online and at an exhibition in Washington, DC, published in an illustrated report, and inform NCPC, NPS, and their partners on future design and policy opportunities.
The deadline for registration and electronic submission of the request for concepts is 11:59 p.m. EDT on May 4, 2016 at the competition website.
Placeholder Alt Text

The National Park Service releases guide to the cultural landscapes of Philadelphia

To most, the words "National Park" provokes images of Yellowstone and Yosemite. The National Park Service (NPS) would like to broaden that image to include historic sites and notable open spaces within U.S. cities. To celebrate its 100th anniversary, the NPS has partnered with the Washington, D.C.–based The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) to release a new guide to the historic and notable open spaces in Philadelphia. The project is spearheaded by the Urban Agenda, an initiative within the NPS to make parks accessible and relevant to city dwellers. In addition to highlighting parks, plazas, and gardens, the online What’s Out There Cultural Landscapes Guide has entries for the neighborhoods, museums, homes, schools, and houses of worship that make Philadelphia Philadelphia. The city's book features over 50 significant sites, which users can filter by type, theme, style, or designer. Each entry has images and a written description of the site design and history. Among many luminaries, the guide highlights the contributions of nineteenth century garden cemetery designer Philip M. Price, Thomas Holme, inventor of the Philadelphia Plan; and I.M. Pei, Louis Kahn, Robert Venturi, and Denise Scott Brown, 20th century architects who have contributed to Philadelphia's built environment. The guides build on TCLF's What's Out There database, which contains over 1,900 sites in the U.S. and Canada. Besides National Parks, the guide has information on National Historic Landmarks, National Natural Landmarks, National Heritage Areas, Land and Water Conservation Fund Sites, and National Register of Historic Places landscapes. TCLF already has non-NPS affiliated guides for Chicago, Denver, D.C., and Toronto, and over the next 18 months, the NPS and TCLF will release guides for Boston, New York, and Richmond, Virginia, Next City reports.