Science, learning center part of park renovation – September 14, 2004

Science, learning center part of park renovation

Herald and News

Klamath Falls, Oregon
September 14, 2004
CRATER LAKE – Historic buildings at Crater Lake National Park are getting ready for a new life.

Structures built in the 1930s – two vacant residences that for many summers housed Crater Lake’s superintendent and chief naturalist – are being renovated as an office-research center and dormitory for the future Crater Lake Science and Learning Center.
The center, scheduled to open summer 2006, will cost $2.2 million. Funding will come from the sale of Crater Lake license plates.

The center is imagined by park Superintendent Chuck Lundy as an “educational field school.” He envisions the Center being used by natural and social scientists, artists, educators and students seeking to understand and appreciate the park’s natural and cultural resources.

For the past two months, the focus has been on renovating the buildings. Crews from T. Gerding Construction of Corvallis began work in mid-July under the supervision of Greg Hartell of Klamath Falls, who has been returning park buildings to their historic state for nearly 20 years.

“I’m not hoping for an early winter,” Hartell said while directing crews at Building 19, the former superintendent’s residence.

Crater Lake’s typically short summers limit construction to only a few months, which is why Hartell hopes winter will take it’s time arriving at the park. This summer’s work will end in mid-October and, if all goes well, resume early next July. As of late last week, work was about 30 percent complete.

“It’s progressing very well,” Hartell said. “The most difficult part is fitting in the structural seismic elements without depleting the historic fabric.”
Paul Dappen, a National Park Service inspector, is working with Hartell and others to insure the work meets standards.
It’s a challenge trying to retain the buildings’ rustic appearances while providing plumbing, electricity and 21st century necessities. Both buildings had their roofs removed and have undergone extensive structural work.

Because both buildings are regarded historic and Building 19 is a designated a National Historic Landmark, it was decided that historic concerns take precedent over building codes.

While Hartell, Dappen and others are focusing attention on renovating the buildings, others are planning how the center will operate.
“The whole premise is it will be a clearing house, a way to broker research for the park and to have research opportunities that will help our programs,” said Marsha McCabe, the park’s chief of interpretation.

She envisions gathered information being used by a broad cross-section of park researchers, visitors and users.
According to a center prospectus, “The center will focus on providing support for individual researchers to small educational work groups. Its emphasis will be to attract high quality, focused investigations, to translate scientific information for managers and educators, and to incorporate research information into management decisions, interpretive programs and regional educational materials.”

“It’s certainly kindergarten through 12,” McCabe said, “but it’s much more than that.”

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