This presentation was part of A Century of Design in the Parks Symposium, Santa Fe, New Mexico, June 21-23, 2016.
By Cesar Bargues Ballester, Julianne Wiesner-Chianese, John B. Hinchman, and Frank G. Matero
The design and construction of Jackson Lake Lodge, located within Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, marked a turning point for design within the National Park system and strongly influenced Mission 66, a concessionaire development initiative undertaken by the National Park Service between 1956 and 1966. The Lodge, designed by architect, Gilbert Stanley Underwood, reinterpreted the rustic architecture tradition by bringing modernism into the national park system. It was also the culminating design of the architect’s career, as it was his last major building. Underwood designed a motor-court style complex consisting of a concrete central lodge with compound cabins arranged in organic clusters which combined new ideas of suburban design with postwar American consumer demands. Harnessing forms and materials of the mid-20th century, Underwood utilized an unusual application of board-marked, acid stained concrete as well as sandblasted and stained plywood, both of which he called ‘Shadowood’.
Recognition of the importance of the Lodge as a catalyst for the changes in National Park architecture, as well as its designation as a National Historic Landmark in 2003, prompted recent archival and physical investigation to better understand the significance of this work in the development of American contextual modernism and to guide its current program of restoration and maintenance. Of considerable value to the preservation community is the study of mid-twentieth century materials and technologies, their performance and deterioration, and methods for preservation. The project has also benefited by the construction of a content database incorporating over 500 construction documents and an equal number of drawings searchable by keyword that is spatial, visual, textual, and historical.
Cesar Bargues Ballester is a research associate with The Architectural Conservation Research Center. Cesar began his career in preservation as a research assistant documenting, recording, and evaluating traditional vernacular, and later exploring modernism in the Department of Architectural Composition at the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain. He completed his Master of Science in Historic Preservation at the University of Pennsylvania in 2015. His thesis focused on a conservation program for George Nakashima’s Arts Building and Cloister and explored the intersection between tradition and modernism. After graduating, as a Research Associate at the Architectural Conservation Research Center, he has continued this research in a multidisciplinary team project funded by the Getty Foundation’s initiative Keeping it Modern. He is also involved with other projects including Jackson Lake Lodge, WY.
Julianne Wiesner-Chianese is a landmarks preservationist with the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Julianne holds a Master of Science in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design, and a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Rutgers University. Her Master’s thesis, entitled Modern in the Mountains: An Analysis of the Structural and Decorative Concrete at Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park, WY examined one of her favorite subjects: the use of concrete as both a structural and artistic medium. In November 2015, Julianne presented her research at the Association for Preservation Technology’s annual conference in Kansas City. Currently, she is a Landmarks Preservationist with the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.
John B. Hinchman is a lecturer in the University of Pennsylvania Graduate Program in Historic Preservation. As lecturer, John teaches Applications of Digital Media in Preservation which focuses on developing a comprehensive understanding of the use of diverse software packages as a single integrated tool in Historic Preservation. Recent teaching projects include a joint effort with the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico in San Juan Puerto Rico for which the team received an Education Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects. As research specialist for the Architectural Conservation Laboratory, he is presently involved with a wide range of projects including the Merchant’s Exchange Building at Independence National Historical Park as well as Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico.
Frank G. Matero is professor of architecture and former Chair of the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation at the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director and founder of the Architectural Conservation Laboratory and a member of the Graduate Group in the Department of Art History and Research Associate of the University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. He is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works and on editorial boards of The Getty Conservation Institute and the Journal of Architectural Conservation. He is founder and editor-in-chief of Change Over Time, a new international journal on conservation and the built environment published by Penn Press.