On-line Book
Book Cover to Mission 66 Visitor Centers. With image of Dinosaur NM Visitor Center, view from beneath ramp


Table of Contentss




Wright Brothers


Pertified Forest

Rocky Mountain

Cecil Doty



Appendix I

Appendix II

Appendix III

Appendix IV

Mission 66 Visitor Centers
Chapter 6
National Park Service Arrowhead

Characteristics of a Doty Design

Although Doty's drawings of visitor centers exhibit a distinctive rendering style, it is impossible to distinguish between his contributions to the Mission 66 building type and those developed by the Mission 66 design staff. Nevertheless, Doty's buildings share certain attributes: a sensitivity toward location; a compact plan incorporating standard visitor center elements; the use of modern materials combined with wood and stone; and the impression of modesty that comes from a limited budget. Although locations may have been chosen by Park Service planners, Doty attempted to establish a relationship between the building and the landscape. In some cases he emphasized circulation through the building to an exterior view; other structures were designed around glassed-in observation decks. Every Doty plan incorporated basic visitor center elements, including exhibit areas, audio-visual rooms, auditoriums, restrooms, and lobbies. Doty juxtaposed these spaces and combined two or more in small visitor centers to accommodate limited programs. Financial circumstances dictated aspects of the program throughout the design process, restricting square footage, choice of exterior and interior surfaces, and the extent of exhibit facilities, among other features. In most of his designs, Doty masked the inexpensive nature of his buildings with aesthetic choices, such as the use of finer materials around the entrance area.

If practical considerations often favored the utilitarian, Doty was certainly aware of the status bestowed upon the visitor center, both by the Park Service and by tourists who were directed to the facility upon entering the park. Recalling Vint's assessment of the visitor center as "the city hall of the park," Doty expressed his belief in the architectural importance of these public buildings. Visitor centers represented the Park Service's highest ideals, and they provided essential services. Doty hoped that his visitor centers would also exude a sense of pride in their surroundings—inspiring the Park Service to maintain the buildings and the public to refrain from littering or other destructive behavior. Even as he strove for the equivalent of civic monuments within the park surroundings, however, Doty realized that funding limitations would always curtail the Park Service's aspirations, sometimes even before projects reached the drawing board. The need to conserve and compromise was integral to Mission 66 design and would prove to be Doty's greatest challenge. Nevertheless, Doty's commitment to architectural excellence extended to every facility—whether visitor center or utility building. Even functional structures hidden from view were judged by aesthetic standards: "do you like it, does it please?" [22] The following sections discuss how Doty used architectural aesthetics to fulfill Mission 66 requirements in his visitor center designs.

CONTINUED continued



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