Drachman Institute


American Fork , UT

At Timpanogos Cave National Monument, the National Park Service preserves the outstanding cave formations, geological processes, and historical values of the Timpanogos Cave system and associated features for the recreational and educational enjoyment, scientific value, and inspiration of this and future generations. The visitor center at the cave trailhead is used by nearly all of the 130,000 visitors who come to the Monument during its season of operation between May and October. It is the only contact point for information, education, cave tour ticket sales, book sales, and safety messages. The cave trailhead visitor center is essential for the operation of cave tours and service to visitors.

In 1991, a fire destroyed the visitor center and administrative offices of Timpanogos Cave National Monument. A temporary modular building has served for a visitor center since that time, and has many deficiencies that make it difficult and even dangerous to use. The Monument wants to move forward with the research and design of a new visitor center that would be welcoming and reflect the beauty of its setting, provide better services for visitors and staff, and be a model of sustainable building practices. However, there are significant site constrains that create the need for creative designing. The visitor center is located on the floor of American Fork Canyon, which presents flood hazards, extreme slopes, and rockfall danger

The visitor center investigation project pursued a preliminary design concept for a new building with the following client goals in mind: integrate the building into the hillside, include a soil covered or living roof, create a rockfall-resistant design, and make the building exceptionally energy efficient (with the intention of becoming LEED-certified). The schematic design is meant to convey an idea for the possible form and massing of the building, as well as the visitor experience.

Date: September 2010
Location: near Salt Lake City, Utah
Client: National Park Service, Timpanogos Cave National Monument
Project Type: Analysis, Conceptual Design
Project Source/Funding: National Park Service
Drachman Institute Team: R. Brooks Jeffery, Director
Allison Kennedy, Heritage Conservation Project Coordinator
Students: Dan Pierce, M. Architecture student
Drachman Institute Program: Heritage Conservation