You're using an unsupported browser. This site may not look optimal.

16 December 2014

Van Alen Institute and National Park Service Announce Four Multidisciplinary Teams To Envision National Parks Now

Media Contacts:

Steven Thomson (212) 924-7000 x 12 | sthomson@vanalen.org

Mathilde Campergue (917) 881-9003 | mathilde@hellothirdeye.com

NEW YORK, December 16, 2014 Van Alen Institute and the National Park Service (NPS) today announced four teams have advanced as finalists in National Parks Now, a competition inviting multidisciplinary teams of young professionals to reshape the national parks visitor experience.

Each team will now receive a $15,000 stipend to work with a broad range of stakeholders to develop digital tools, hands-on workshops, self-led tours, interactive installations, outreach and engagement campaigns, and other strategies that connect these parks to larger, more diverse audiences throughout the region.


In spring 2015, one winning team will be selected to receive an additional $10,000 to create a prototype for one of their strategies, which will be implemented at their site in summer of 2015. As NPS prepares to celebrate its centennial in 2016, National Parks Now will pioneer a model for transforming similar parks nationwide.

“As we look back at the 100-year legacy of the National Park Service, it’s also a perfect time to look creatively at the visitor experience at several select parks and consider new ways to share park stories and respond to audience needs,” said Gay Vietzke, Deputy Regional Director, National Park Service, Northeast Region. “National Parks Now is a truly innovative—and necessary—effort to ensure national parks are relevant in the 21st century.”

“Too few people realize what a huge resource these smaller national park sites are for local communities and for larger urban networks—as an escape and as a part of people’s everyday lives,” said Van Alen Institute Executive Director David van der Leer.


National Parks Now is a central part of Elsewhere: Escape and the Urban Landscape, a multi-year initiative of Van Alen Institute exploring how both the form and organization of the built environment influence our need for escape. Through competitions, public programs, and research, this unique multidisciplinary effort is bringing together innovators in design, public health, policy, and the sciences to change the way we understand cities.

The finalist teams will be working at sites that tell complex stories about one of the country’s densest and most diverse urban regions and contain countless layers of the nation’s economic, ecological, and cultural history. The four teams and sites are:

  • Sagamore Hill National Historic Site (Oyster Bay, NY), the estate of President Theodore Roosevelt. Team Wayward / Projects is led by Putri Trisulo of Project Projects with Prem Krishnamurthy, Katie Okamoto, Alfons Hooikaas, Ben DuVall, Heather Ring, Amy Seek, Thomas Kendall, and Jarred Henderson. Their project will create a symbiotic partnership model capitalizing on the existing audiences and curatorial resources of prominent cultural institutions to reinterpret histories and reinvigorate Sagamore Hill.
  • Steamtown National Historic Site (Scranton, PA), one of the world’s most important monuments to the steam locomotive. Led by Abigail Smith-Hanby of FORGE with Ashley Ludwig, Andrew Dawson, Max Lozach, and CJ Gardella. Team FORGE proposes to weave together stories and information in order to root Steamtown within the larger American cultural landscape.
  • Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park (Paterson, NJ), a historic birthplace of American textile manufacturing. Led by Manuel Miranda of MMP and the Yale School of Art with Frances Medina, Mariana Mogilevich, Valeria Mogilevich, June Williamson, and Willy Wong. The team will work with high school students and local stakeholders to explore retrofitting the park to engage the city, retelling the site’s history to engage contemporary audiences, and representing the site to new publics.
  • Weir Farm National Historic Site (Ridgefield, CT), the summer estate of the artist Julian Alden Weir. Led by Aaron Forrest of the Rhode Island School of Design and Principal of Ultramoderne with Yasmin Vobis, Suzanne Mathew, Noah Klersfeld, Dungjai Pungauthaikan, and Jessica Forrest. The team will work with students at the Rhode Island School of Design to look at introducing site-specific, contemporary artistic practices to Weir Farm in order to develop new perspectives on the site and the region’s history and ecology.

The competition engages early career professionals who are well positioned to engage local and regional stakeholders, including students, and develop tools, strategies, and messages that will resonate with the next generations of park visitors. The teams include architects, landscape architects, graphic designers, urban planners, filmmakers, artists, ecologists, educators, interaction designers, brand experts, and engagement specialists from six cities in the U.S. and the U.K. A jury of national leaders in design and engagement selected the teams from a pool of more than 340 individuals from 17 countries around the world who responded to an open Request for Qualifications for National Parks Now.

National Parks Now is the latest of Van Alen Institute’s collaborations with NPS through 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 country and consider how they could be reimagined as models for sustainable and enduring public spaces. 

Please visit www.vanalen.org/nationalparksnow for a complete RFQ, including details on the submission process.

To download high-resolution images and graphics, visit: http://bit.ly/135cUm2

The project team for National Parks Now is led by Van Alen Institute’s Director of Competitions Jerome Chou and Competitions Coordinator Stephen Klimek; and National Park Service’s Northeast Region’s Deputy Regional Director Gay Vietzke; Chief, Resource Planning and Compliance Shaun Eyring; and Chief, Interpretation, Education, and Partnerships Barbara Pollarine.


Linda Cook, Superintendent, Weir Farm National Historic Site

Glen Cummings, Partner, MTWTF

Shaun Eyring, Chief, Resource Planning and Compliance, Northeast Region, National Park Service Jerome Goh, Senior Content Director, IDEO Mark Hansen, Director, Brown Institute for Media Innovation, Columbia University School of Journalism David van der Leer, Executive Director, Van Alen Institute Setha Low, Professor, Ph.D. programs in Anthropology, Geography, and Environmental Psychology, The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Emile Molin, Creative Director, The Metropolitan Museum of Art William Morrish, Dean, Parsons School of Constructed Environments Kate Orff, Partner, SCAPE / Landscape Architecture

Barbara Pollarine, Chief, Interpretation, Education, and Partnership Development, Northeast Region, National Park Service

Community Advisory Committee

Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park: Leslie Agard-Jones, Hamilton Partnership for Paterson Gianfranco Archimede, Historic Preservation Commission Robin Gold, Hamilton Partnership for Paterson Eddie Gonzalez, New Jersey Community Development Corp Sarai Perez, Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park David Soo, Paterson Friends of the Great Falls, Inc. Leonard Zax, Hamilton Partnership for Paterson

Sagamore Hill National Historic Site: Phillip Blocklyn, Oyster Bay Historical Society Jacqueline Blocklyn, School of Domestic Arts, Oyster Bay Historical Society Meredith Maus, Oyster Bay Main Street Association

Steamtown National Historic Site: Susan Estler, Lackawanna County Convention and Visitors Bureau Wayne Hiller, Lackawanna County Electric City Trolley Museum Mary-Ann Savakinus, Lackawanna Historical Society

Weir Farm National Historic Site: Anne Dawson, Eastern Connecticut State University Hildi Grob, Keller Tavern Museum Pamela Hovland, Yale University School of Art Joel Third, Keller Tavern Museum Rich Vail, Faesy-Smith Architects Xiomáro, Weir Farm Visiting Artist

Project Team

Jane Ahern, Chief of Communications and Legislative Affairs, NPS-Northeast Region Darren Boch, Superintendent, Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park Jerome Chou, Director of Competitions, Van Alen Institute Martin Christiansen, Chief of Interpretation and Natural Resources, Sagamore Hill National Historic Site Deborah Conway, Superintendent, Steamtown National Historic Site Cris Constantine, Education Program Manager, Interpretation, Education, & Partnerships, NPS-Northeast Region Linda Cook, Superintendent, Weir Farm National Historic Site Shaun Eyring, Chief, Resource Planning and Compliance, National Park Service, Northeast Region Kelly Fuhrmann, Superintendent, Sagamore Hill National Historic Site Ilyse Goldman, Supervisory Park Ranger, Division of Interpretation, Education and Volunteers, Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park Stephen Klimek, Competitions Coordinator, Van Alen Institute Mary Kline, Chief Visitor Services and Resources, Steamtown National Historic Site Michael Liang, Visual Information Specialist, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (formerly NPS-Northeast Region) Dawn Mach, Financial Assistance Manager, NPS-Northeast Region Barbara Pollarine, Chief, Interpretation, Education and Partnerships, NPS-Northeast Region Cheryl Sams O’Neill, Resource Planning Specialist, Historical Landscape Architect, NPS-Northeast Region

Gay Vietzke, Deputy Regional Director, NPS-Northeast Region Cassie Werne, Management Assistant, Chief of Interpretation & Education, Weir Farm National Historic Site


About Van Alen Institute

At Van Alen Institute, we believe design can transform cities, landscapes, and regions to improve people’s lives. We collaborate with communities, scholars, policymakers, and professionals on local and global initiatives that rigorously investigate the most pressing social, cultural, and ecological challenges of tomorrow. Building on more than a century of experience, we develop cross-disciplinary research, provocative public programs, and inventive design competitions.

Our recent and ongoing competitions include Rebuild by Design, sponsored by President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Task Force and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which resulted in nearly a billion dollars of funding to support innovative design and planning strategies to better protect cities and towns across the Northeast from future storms; and Future Ground, in partnership with the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, which will develop design and policy strategies to reuse vacant land in New Orleans. Van Alen is also working with Environmental Defense Fund and Happold Consulting to support Changing Course, a design competition led by Louisiana and national leaders to reimagine a more sustainable Lower Mississippi River Delta. Website: www.vanalen.org Facebook: /vanaleninstitute Twitter: @van_alen Instagram: @van_alen

About the National Park Service More than 20,000 National Park Service (NPS) employees care for America’s 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. With the help of volunteers and park partners, the NPS are proud to safeguard these more than 400 places and to share their stories with more than 275 million visitors every year. Visit us at: Website: www.nps.gov Facebook: /nationalparkservice Twitter: @natlparkservice YouTube: /nationalparkservice