Van Alen Institute and the US National Park Service have just launched National Parks Now, a competition inviting multidisciplinary teams of young professionals to develop strategies for reshaping the national parks visitor experience at four National Parks in the Northeast.
Four teams – one for each park site – will be selected in November 2014 to receive $15,000 participate in a six-month research and design process to develop new narratives and communication tools, interpretive installations, outreach strategies, and other tools to connect the four parks to larger, more diverse audiences throughout the region, and create a model for similar parks nationwide.
The teams will be competing for $10,000 to prototype one of their strategies, which will be implemented at their site in summer of 2015. The four sites are:
- Sagamore Hill National Historic Site (Oyster Bay, NY), the estate of President Theodore Roosevelt;
- Steamtown National Historic Site (Scranton, PA), one of the world’s most important monuments to the steam locomotive;
- Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park (Paterson, NJ), a historic birthplace of American textile manufacturing;
- Weir Farm National Historic Site (Ridgefield, CT), the summer estate of the artist Julian Alden Weir.
The National Parks Now competition is a project of Designing the Parks, an examination of the past, present, and future of park planning and design. Through a two-part conference in 2008, Designing the Parks brought together professionals in history, landscape architecture, architecture, historic preservation, and related fields to explore a unified design vision and produce a preliminary set of design principles to shape national parks in the twenty-first century.
In 2011, Van Alen Institute and its partners launched Parks for the People, the first design competition for the Designing the Parks initiative, challenging student design teams to examine seven national park sites around the U.S. and consider how they could be reimagined as models for sustainable and enduring public spaces.