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National Parks Service Headquarters & Visitors Center
Proposal - Unspecified Location

DHK was provided the opportunity to team with Classic Site Solutions, Inc. to provide a proposal for a design build project for the National Parks Service. The team developed a conceptual plan for an NPS Headquarters and Visitors Center at an unspecified 75 acre site. The site will provide space for three buildings: the headquarters/visitors center, a storage building, and a vehicle maintenance building. It will also provide parking for cars, buses, and vans for visitors, as well as parking and other site access for employees. We imagined a site that is relatively flat, without major environmental issues, and generally in a rural setting, surrounded by nature, as some of the requirements of the program seemed to suggest.

Overall View

We imagined the aesthetics of the building to be one that provides clues to the natural setting of the building with ample use of local stone or masonry, wood assemblies for windows, doors and storefronts. We imagined plentiful glass to provide continuous transparencies into the lobby and from it, as well as into other spaces surrounding the courtyard in the visitor’s center. In a similar manner, we imagined strategic use of glazing in the headquarters pavilion to allow ample transparency while not reducing programmatic wall space. We imagine that many of the offices and other spaces surrounding the courtyard in the headquarters pavilion will have plenty of transparency towards the interior courtyard.

The courtyards are meant to give focus to the activities in the visitor’s center and to be an amenity to both pavilions. It is envisioned as a hardscaped space with a “green” center. The courtyard in the headquarters pavilion is envisioned to be somewhat opposite to the one serving the visitors center – in this case a green space with a hard center, perhaps a fountain or some other landscape feature.



The buildings have been designed to maximize natural light. Furthermore, this datum can also be used to where louvers are necessary for mechanical spaces or for similar functional reasons. The last datum is that of the peak along the ridge of the sloped structure of the building. This might be used for the complete expression of the structure, fully showing the trusses that provide support for the roof, and expressed in order to enhance the large spaces in the visitor’s center, such as the lobby, the meeting room, and the exhibit room, and might even be used at the kitchenette area in the headquarters pavilion.