Engaging Wilderness: A Visitor Center and Ranger Station for the US Forest Service in Central Washington
Kelly, Reed M.
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The idea of the wilderness as a physical place and as a cultural image has existed since the founding of the United States. Cultural attitudes toward wilderness have fallen into two broad categories: viewing wilderness as a resource to be used for the sake of civilization; and as an amenity that provides a counterpoint to cities. Civilization and wilderness are not opposed, rather they are on a spectrum, with places being more urban or more wild. Architecture can mediate between resource and amenity views of the wilderness by emphasizing the experiential qualities of being in the wilderness, and by using sustainable and responsive design to support resource conservation. The United States Forest Service (USFS) manages the conservation of millions of acres of public land as a resource to be used in perpetuity and as a recreation amenity. This thesis demonstrates how the architecture of Forest Service buildings can be both a steward of the the land and enhance the visitor experience in wilderness. It proposes a new ranger station and visitor center in the Wenatchee National Forest in Leavenworth, Washington as part of the USFS’ national network of built infrastructure. This thesis demonstrates how architecture facilities for a government agency focused on environmental sustainability can be equally sustainable.
- Architecture