Devil’s Tower Visitor Center
A low-impact design for high-impact views.
The Devils Tower Monument is a visually emphatic part of the National Park Service. It protrudes from the plains so dramatically that it has been an attraction since before history was written. Sacred to the many Native American groups in the area, popular among early Park Service visitors, made famous to late 20th century Americans by Stephen Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind; and overrun by motorbikes during the Sturgis Rally every summer; the infrastructure at Devils Tower was strained beyond its capacity. The existing historic landscape design included a parking circle between log structures which have been carefully preserved in recent decades, but neither the parking nor the buildings were big enough to support the current number of visitors.
The Devils Tower Visitor Center design provides a new indoor interpretive area with a larger outdoor interpretive plaza for the busy summer months. The site plan has been designed to accommodate large numbers of summer visitors but can scale down to very small operations and services during the winter, when the park remains open but has little visitation.
BRS designed the building to sit judiciously on the site; to be visually unobtrusive and environmentally low impact. With the emphasis on the tower, the building was placed outside of the historic landscape circle, leaving the view from the existing buildings unimpeded. The center was designed to have low environmental impact, with very little need for mechanical heating and cooling.