07 Design Context Introduction

The Rustic Landscape of Rim Village, 1927-1941

Landscape History


Design Context


The design philosophy espousing a close relationship between man-made structures and the natural environment can be traced to the mid-19th century, when American landscape architects were beginning to influence environmental planning and architectural design and practices. During the decades that followed, these theories and ideas were applied and further refined by the advocates of what became a recognized style of design, one well-suited for national parks. This style was known as the Rustic, and it served as the framework for all design work at Rim Village.

The landscape of Rim Village is the result of two independent factors that were closely interwoven by NPS designers to create an image for the village. The two factors were function and utility, and aesthetics and design. The Park Service recognized that Rim Village needed specific services to accommodate the growing numbers of visitors to the park. Lodging, meals, camping and travel supplies, and general services were among the park visitors’ needs. Planners also knew that a site’s natural and aesthetic qualities were of equal importance to how it functioned. The Rustic style of design, then, became the “envelope” within which the functional needs of the village were addressed in a manner that was sensitive and appropriate to the natural surroundings.

     Function and Utility

Although the Department of the Interior had jurisdiction over development in the parks, it was the concessioner and railroad companies who first constructed buildings and other facilities in these areas. Some structures were good examples of the evolving Rustic style of design, others were not. Beginning in 1911, a series of National Park Conferences addressing development and design for the national parks were held in Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks, and in Berkeley, California.[2] A number of professionals in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, and engineering, as well as Park Service officials, attended these forums to express their goals, desires, and ideas for appropriate ways in which to develop and design for these special areas.[3] It was at one of these forums that Mark Daniels, a landscape engineer serving as the Department of the Interior’s General Superintendent of Parks, presented his “campaign plan” for improving the parks.[4] A key component of Daniels’ plan was to concentrate visitor services in one place — a village. In his concept the village would be designed primarily for utility and functional needs of the visitor. Accommodations for every type of individual would be provided, from the visitor who wanted to stay in a hotel and take meals at a lodge, to the visitor who preferred cooking his own meals and sleeping in a tent. In Daniels’ plan, individual buildings would be carefully sited and arranged throughout the village, and architectural styles would be thoughtfully considered in order to enhance — in Daniels’ words — the “picturesqueness” of the site. Since the number of people traveling to the parks was increasing rapidly, Daniels felt the establishment of these villages, complete with their infrastructure of lights, water, utilities, supply stores, and lodging facilities, was inevitable for all the parks including Crater Lake. By 1915, a preliminary plan was in place for a village at Crater Lake, to be sited along the south side of the rim overlooking the lake.[5]