NPS: Joshua Tree

By Veronica Plischke, AIA, Associate

As part of the NPS Project Scoping Assessments, we analyzed Joshua Tree National Park’s Cottonwood Off-Grid District. This project covered major aspects of the Cottonwood Region including the Maintenance Facility, Employee Housing, Campground, and Major Utilities. The Maintenance Facility and Employee Housing projects focused on reprograming the maintenance building to better utilize its size and location. The building contains several program spaces for the employees that would better serve the district in a new location. This part of the park is also a Mission 66 historic district.

Part of the study included looking at options to return the Maintenance building to its original appearance and purpose. The project also evaluated the possibility of increasing seasonal RV spaces for more employees to be stationed in this part of the park and upgrading the utility connections to the houses. The Campground study reviewed the camping loops’ capacity and drainage, as well as general accessibility—including adding ABAAS compliant campsites—providing upgrades to the comfort stations, and accessibility upgrades to the amphitheater. With the Cottonwood District being completely off-grid, an in-depth analysis was completed of all utilities to determine where replacements and upgrades were required. This included increasing well water access, increasing PV solar arrays, and replacing septic systems. During this assessment, the MCA Team met with key stakeholders, interviewed users, and observed the use of the buildings to develop recommendations to meet the current programmatic needs.  A detailed survey was completed to assess the condition of the historic buildings including a comparison of the existing conditions to the original as-built drawings and old photographs to provide preservation and restoration recommendations. We also examined the life safety, accessibility, site conditions, and MEP systems to determine what modifications were required to allow the district to maintain full functionality. The report will include a cost estimate and will be used to justify the required improvements to seek funding to keep the Cottonwood Off-Grid facility operational for years to come.

At MCA, we are honored to offer our services to the National Park facilities and monuments throughout the United States. You can learn more about MCA’s work in this sector by checking out our NPS page here.