Competition Winners > University of Washington
San Juan Island National Park
Friday Harbor, WA
Historic Preservation Planning, Environmental Planning, Conservation Science, Geography, Museology, Architecture
23, Upper-Division Undergraduate and Graduate
finding COMMON GROUND
The ChallengeWith an intriguing historical backstory and a stunning natural setting, San Juan Island National Historical Park offers unique interpretive challenges. The park commemorates the so-called "Pig War" Crisis of 1859—when U.S. Army troops and British warships were nose to nose over which nation held rights to the island—a crisis resolved when the parties agreed to a joint military occupation, averting an international armed conflict. The park now celebrates how individuals and nations can resolve disputes without resorting to violence. The major challenge for the studio team was to successfully connect the two American and British camps—set 13 miles apart—while providing better visitor access and interpretive opportunities to tell the park's natural and cultural stories.
Studio ApproachThe University of Washington's team of 21 students argues for programming in small national parks to balance the everyday needs of local residents with the needs of destination travelers. Their approach is grounded in three design processes: storytelling across scales, loosened boundaries, and interpretive stewardship. In this vision of the future small park of America, visitors understand their interactions with the park as part of an ongoing story of place that is connected to a larger network of human and non-human narratives.
Key FeaturesThe studio proposes a process of overall re-invigoration of the site, from re-establishing the marsh and rehabilitating the orchard to re-connecting the military road that connects the two principal park camps. Other strategies to boost access and broaden the park’s visitor network include combining the visitor center with a community center and introducing a digital interpretive device that encourages stewardship by bringing the visitor center into the landscape.