20.10.09

Mission 66: Modern Visitor Centers


What do famous modernists such as, Richard Neutra and the well known architectural firm of Anshen and Allen have in common?  National parks!  To be more specific: the design and construction of modern visitor centers.  Christine Madrid French, Director of the Modernism + Recent Past Program for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, notes on her well-documented Mission 66 website, that:
"Park Service planners, architects, and landscape architects devised the concept to incorporate visitor facilities, interpretive programs, and administrative offices in one structure. In a departure from the rustic-style buildings constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), Mission 66 designers embraced a contemporary structural form for the new centers."
At Mission 66 you can view many photographs of modern visitor centers that are found in national parks all accross the United States.  Moreover, you can learn about this historic, yet fantastic program that "began in 1956 and ended in 1966."  Sadly, many of these iconic structures are endangered such as Neutra's Cyclorama at Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania which was completed in 1962.  Some like the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota, which was "in Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest," was "demolished in 1994.


All images © Christine Madrid, 1998

After spending some time enjoying Mission 66, you may well wish to pack a picnic lunch and visit the nearest national park.  Furthermore, you also may feel inclined to assist in preserving these modern memorials so they don't disappear forever.   Make sure that you also visit The National Trust for Historic Preservation as well as your local preservation group for information on how to get involved

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