This presentation was part of A Century of Design in the Parks Symposium, Santa Fe, New Mexico, June 21-23, 2016.

By Robert J. Hotes


National Park Service (NPS) built structures span a century of development, from the early rustic period in large western parks, through major construction by the CCC and WPA during the Great Depression, to the post-WWII era and the NPS Mission 66 campaign that signaled a recommitment to our national parks, and up through present-day development. Many of the resulting park facilities are now significant historic resources in their own right.

The challenge for the next century is balancing the preservation of these resources with their rehabilitation and modernization to best serve the needs of the NPS and its visitors for the next 100 years and beyond. This dynamic presentation explores two case studies from the Northeast Region that illustrate strategies and lessons learned for achieving high-performance modernization using an integrated design approach that successfully balances preservation and sustainability goals.

Booker T. Washington National Monument
Booker T. Washington National Monument was established to protect and interpret the site of Booker T. Washington’s birth, its cultural landscape and view-shed. The Park’s Visitor Center is a historic Mission 66 structure originally constructed in 1965. The two-story wood-frame building of 5,500 SF houses a lobby, exhibit space, bookstore, offices, and a lower-level maintenance shop.

Due to substantial growth in visitation since the building was constructed, a new multipurpose room was added in 2010, and a smaller adjacent structure houses new public restrooms. However, the original office space does not meet staff/volunteer needs or current accessibility standards.

The current project involves providing new fire protection and alarm systems, including the careful insertion of exposed sprinkler piping and headsin the historic lobby and exhibit areas, as well as reconfiguring the existing office wing to meet space and accessibility requirements. A new office addition above the maintenance shop is sensitively designed to complement the historic Mission 66 structure, while providing much-needed staff/volunteer space and a new library/conference room. All work will be coordinated to allow public access throughout construction.

Valley Forge National Historical Park
The Administrative Building (8,558 SF) and Auditorium (4,164 SF) at Valley Forge National Historical Park were constructed in 1967. Both buildings are two stories, connected by a covered breezeway, with stone masonry exteriors designed to harmonize with the historic Valley Forge landscape. Occupancy and use of both buildings is year-round and essential to Park operations.

The purpose of the current project is to modernize the existing HVAC systems, including replacement of a 100-ton water cooled reciprocating chiller, the electric resistance variable air volume boxes and supplemental electric baseboard heat, and ductwork to distribute the conditioned air more effectively. Using high-tech non-destructive techniques to understand existing conditions, including infrared thermography and blower door testing, as well as digital energy modelling to evaluate alternative systems solutions, the integrated design process resulted in a cost-effective system that better serves the heating, cooling and ventilation needs of both buildings, improves both occupant comfort and energy efficiency, reduces fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas production, and maximizes reliability and ease of operation of the system and controls.

National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
645 University Parkway
Natchitoches, LA 71457

Email: ncptt[at]
Phone: (318) 356-7444
Fax: (318) 356-9119