Chimney Rock National Monument Visitor Center
Shelter reinforces the interplay of indoors and outdoors, framing a unique natural monument for visitors.
1,800 SF building
5,500 SF plaza
1,000 SF shade structure
Archuleta County, CO
United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service
Chimney Rock National Monument encompasses 4,726 acres administered by the San Juan National Forest and is a treasure in the public lands' system, containing spiritual, historic, and scientific resources of great value and significance. The site is recognized as one of North America’s foremost archaeoastronomy resources, with indigenous peoples believing Chimney Rock to be an important place of cultural continuity.
The new visitor center is mindful of the resource, framing the dramatic landscape for visiting patrons. Several new features frame outdoor experiences: a new arrival entry and roadway into the premises, visitor parking, a pedestrian promenade supporting bus shuttle shelters, restroom facilities, a contact station, and an outdoor classroom. The new plaza and shade structure creates a precise entry sequence and furnishes a clear frame for Chimney Rock. Connecting indoor and outdoor spaces is a dominant design driver for the new Visitor Center, enabling access and connection to the site’s resources.
Each structure is durable and low maintenance: the building is wrapped in a fine coursing of regional sandstone veneer and weathered steel, and building systems are commensurate with the facilities operating season. The building utilizes passive strategies for illumination and ventilation with provisions made for minimal plug-load devices to augment severe conditions. Overhead doors and folding door panels connect multiple environments and render the building a shelter from the sun and elements. The abstract cadence of wall and window reinforce the visitor center as an artifact of the land, inspired by the remnant structures found near the monument.