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Mission 66: Where Are We Now? The Preservation and Re-Use of Mission 66 Visitor Centers

Kinsley, Rebecca A.

Mission 66 was a National Park Service (NPS) program designed to revitalize the national parks and to accommodate an increase in visitors after World War II. The program introduced a new building typology, the visitor center. Over one hundred visitor centers were built for the NPS during Mission 66, all in a modern architectural style. This was a distinct departure from the more rustic designs of earlier decades. Since the time of their construction, these visitor centers have been a source of contention in the parks. The functionality, siting and Programming of Mission 66 visitor centers have been questioned in recent years. In addition, the very architectural style of the visitor centers has been challenged as inappropriate. In 2003, the NPS launched a major research initiative to evaluate the origins of the program and to create a basis for evaluation and stewardship of Mission 66 resources. The result was a study of Mission 66 visitor centers, a Mission 66 context study, and an investigation of National Register eligible resources. Since then, many Mission 66 visitor centers continue to be demolished or threatened. This thesis will evaluate the current state of Mission 66 visitor centers. What, if anything, has changed about their interpretation and significance since the initial study? Recognizing the continued increase in visitation, changing standards within the NPS, and visitor expectations as a whole, how can preservationists continue to evaluate the significance of these buildings, and what are appropriate uses for them today?

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Prudon, Theodore
Degree
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
June 12, 2013