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 surroundingsinspiring 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 facilitywhether visitor center or
utility building. Even functional structures hidden from view were judged
by aesthetic standards: "do you like it, does it please?"  The following sections discuss how Doty used architectural
aesthetics to fulfill Mission 66 requirements in his visitor center