Van Alen and National Park Service select finalists to re-imagine visitor experience at national parks

The Falls Gorge and bridge, Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park, Paterson, NJ. (Courtesy Van Alen Institute)

The Falls Gorge and bridge, Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park. (Courtesy Van Alen Institute)

The Van Alen Institute and the National Park Service (NPS) have announced four finalists in their competition to modernize visitor experience at four national parks. While the National Parks Now competition aims to “[design] the 21st Century National Park experience,” it’s about more than launching an app or two and boosting WiFi signals.

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Peek Inside Ellis Island’s abandoned hospital before it opens for tours next week

East, Pictorial, Preservation
Friday, September 26, 2014
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Ellis Island's South Side Hospital Complex. (Henry Melcher / AN)

Ellis Island’s South Side Hospital Complex. (Henry Melcher / AN)

In the early 20th Century, the sprawling, 29-building Public Health Service hospital on the south shore of Ellis Island was the biggest federal hospital in the country—and possibly its most state-of-the-art. The comprehensive medical institution treated over one million newly-arrived immigrants ill with diseases like tuberculosis, measles, trachoma, and scarlet fever.

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Organization Rescues Cape Cod Modernist Homes

East
Monday, December 9, 2013
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Designed by prolific local architect Charles Zehnder, the Kugel Gips house was built on Cape Cod in 1970 (Courtesy CCMT)

Designed by prolific local architect Charles Zehnder, the Kugel Gips house was built on Cape Cod in 1970 (Courtesy CCMT)(Courtesy CCMT)

Built in 1970 by prolific Cape Cod–based architect Charles Zehnder, the Frank Lloyd Wright–inspired Kugel Gips house spent nearly a decade unoccupied and in disrepair while under ownership of the National Park Service (NPS). Abandoned and rotting, the compact Modernist home was nearly lost to the idyllic peninsula’s salty winds, and worse yet, the wrecking ball, until Wellfleet, Massachusetts–based architect Peter McMahon and the Cape Cod Modernist Trust (CCMT) stepped in.

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1970s Benjamin Franklin Museum Re-Opens as High-Tech Biographical Exhibit

East
Monday, September 9, 2013
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Benjamin Franklin Museum (Courtesy Quinn Evans Architects)

Benjamin Franklin Museum. (Courtesy Quinn Evans Architects)

The Benjamin Franklin Museum at Independence National Historical Park (INHP) in Philadelphia has bid adieu to the 1970s. Closed by the National Park Service (NPS) for a $23 million, two-year renovation, the historic site has re-opened as an 8,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility to learn about the “relevant revolutionary.” Quinn Evans Architects (QEA) was tasked with renovating the original 1976 underground museum designed by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown (VSBA). The museum now involves interactive displays, personal artifacts, and a glass pavilion, also known as the ghost house, operating as the main entrance from Franklin Court.

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A Battle Lost for Neutra’s Gettsyburg Cyclorama Building

East
Friday, January 11, 2013
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Photograph of Richard Neutra's Gettysburg cyclorama building. (Lawrence S. Williams Photography/Courtesy Docomomo)

Photograph of Richard Neutra’s Gettysburg cyclorama building. (Lawrence S. Williams Photography/Courtesy Docomomo)

After years of litigation, preservationists have lost the battle to save Richard Neutra’s Gettysburg cyclorama building, an iconic example of modern architecture from the 1960s. The bulldozers could raze this circular visitor center as early as February, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The National Park Service commissioned the glass and concrete building as part of its Mission 66 initiative—a billion-dollar program to update park services across the country—at the Gettysburg Battlefield site.  The rotunda was designed specifically to house the 1883 panoramic painting of the Battle of Gettysburg by Paul Philippoteaux.

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