Let me start by explaining how much I love the us national park aesthetic. Ok. Picture me sticking my arms out all the way, with just the tips of my fingers metaphorically wrapped around my love and saying "this much". Some of my favorite memories of my grandparents involve trailer camping in national parks. I guess the visuals just sort of stuck.
What surprised me is that what I like about national parks has a name: National Park Service Rustic. Not that it should be surprising. The aesthetic is so consistent, right across the country, that it must be built to a clear style guide.
But of course, the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center isn't NPS Rustic. It was built as part of Mission 66, an initiative to catch up with the massive post war demand in the 50s. The thing about NPS Rustic is that very labor intensive. Great for WPA projects, not so much when you're in a hurry.
So what we've got here is a mid century modern public building with a little NPS Rustic thrown in. How could I not be in love with this place? Answer: no way. I'm super sad that it's getting torn down next year. I'm incredibly happy I got to experience it before it went. I'm sorry the pictures don't really convey how... perfect it feels to be there.
The reason that they're tearing it down is because it's incredibly inefficient. One of the principles of NPS Rustic is that the building should be suited its the environment. Mid century modern, on the other hand, couldn't give two shits. The future was so bright that practical considerations, like how many hundreds of gallons of fuel a day it might take to keep the 96 feet of snow from collapsing a lightly domed roof, were not considered important enough to stop construction.
Now that gas is so expensive that the pumps max dollar limit hits before the tank is full, it maybe is time to rethink that. Sill, I wish they could move it down the hill, instead of just crushing it up.
Rakka had some better pictures than me. Here's one.
Photo Credit: Rakka