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

By Dave Anderson, AIA


Within years of its 1958 dedication, the Quarry Visitor Center was showing signs of distress, serious distress. A series of geotechnical evaluations revealed that the same geologic formation– bentonite and dipping bedrock – that encapsulated the world’s most extensive collection of Jurassic fossils also presented a very unstable substrate for building foundations.

For over 50 years the highly expansive soils seasonally shifted the building, deconstructing its rigid masonry and bending its steel structure. Designated an NHL in 2003, the Visitor Center was concurrently fighting a losing battle to shattering window panels and spontaneously rupturing stud walls. Repairs to the structure were costing as much as $100,000 a year. The situation became so untenable that the structure was condemned in 2007 as too hazardous for human occupation.

All treatment options – from preservation to rehabilitation to complete deconstruction/replacement – were explored. This session will explain what factors weighed into the final decision and how the preferred alternative saved this icon of Mission 66 architecture.


Dave Anderson, AIA, is a principal with Anderson Hallas Architects, PC. As the principal in charge of the Quarry Visitor Center, from initial investigations in 2003 to the rededication, Dave brings both a technical and political understanding of the project. And he remains friends with Utah’s State Historic Preservation Officer.

Anderson Hallas Architects, PC is an award-winning firm with an equal footing in historic preservation and contemporary design. Since 2004, the firm has primed four 5-year contracts with the National Park Service (in the Intermountain, Midwest and Pacific West Regions) and is/has sub-consulted on seven other NPS teams.

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

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