33 Construction Technologies – Paving

The Rustic Landscape of Rim Village, 1927-1941



Construction Technologies


All paved surfaces at the rim were surfaced with an asphalt material. The main road through the rim was first scarified and then bladed. Water was applied using a tank sprayer, and the wet surface was bladed again until a proper grade was attained. The bed was rolled and a layer of crushed rock was placed before the area was rolled again. On this surface an emulsified asphalt was applied and as a finish surface a fine screen material was applied, broomed, and rolled again. A second coat of asphalt was applied with additional fine rock screening and proper brooming.

The promenade was surfaced with a cold-laid bituminous material. It was not rolled but compacted.

In 1935, several paved surfaces at the rim were treated with oil to preserve and extend use. A significant amount of attention went into the visual character of these treatments. Oils, which were naturally dark in color, were commonly used, but the final seal coat which was laid on these initial beds was covered with a fine coat of rock, then rolled, and brushed, to give a medium gray color that was both “pleasing to the eye as well as fitting to the area. . .”


The purpose of analyzing construction technologies used at Rim Village is to clarify the degree to which historical techniques influenced the material fabric and visual character of the landscape as a whole. Most conspicuous is the high level of craftsmanship and attention to composition that went into the development of specific features — such as the rock walls and several buildings — in order to present a man-made element in a “Rustic” or “Naturalistic” appearing manner. For example, the work done by the masons on the parapet was approved only after an inspection and, in several cases, reworking, resetting, and/or redressing the face of individual stones already placed was required to ensure overall visual continuity.

Roads and walkways were paved with asphalt, but dusted and sealed with a material that left a grey tone to the finished surface, visually blending into the natural landscape. Other available paving materials were considered for use at Rim Village, but were rejected as being inappropriate. For example, gravel was considered for surfacing roads through the campground, but the landscape architects felt it would visually stand-out far more than a dark oiled surface.

Plant materials were installed over an eight-year period at Rim Village, and the relative success and/or failure of the planting program as a whole is a direct result of the intensive measures taken to ensure proper soils, transplanting and establishment techniques, and after-care. Because of these specific techniques, the landscape we see today at Rim Village looks “natural” but, in fact, is the result of a tremendous amount of manipulation, all undertaken in order to “naturalize” the rim landscape.

In terms of construction technologies, therefore, it is perhaps not critical (or practical) in every case to replicate historic practices in replacing or adding fabric. It is, however, important to retain the physical characteristics and the visual and material qualities that were a direct result of those techniques.

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