NPS Series: Badlands National Park

By Paul Van Riley, AIA, NCARB, President

Working with the National Park Service, the MCA team spent a week at the Badlands National Park in South Dakota to provide architectural services to the local fire station and other park facilities. These spaces are the foundation of the logistics to preserve a park at this scale. It is the mission of the park to maintain the landscape and boost the visitor experience and MCA helped them accomplish this through a variety of programming exercises and an assessment of key areas of the park’s infrastructure.

The Badlands National Park first experienced human intervention with the Arikara people who were then displaced by the Lakota Tribe. In 1929 President Coolidge deemed the Badlands a National Monument and by the 1940s roughly 300 acres were used for military testing operations. By 1978, the Badlands were designated as a national park.

The Badlands experience extreme temperatures, infrequent but heavy rainfall, and high winds. All of which can have a toll on the facilities and today, the park buildings are aging and in need of repair or replacement.  MCA implemented its expertise in advanced building systems to ensure the critical function of these facilities are maintained properly.

The park welcomes over one million visitors a year from all corners of the globe for premier camping, hiking, or hunting for prehistoric fossils. The park is also home to some of the most endangered species including the black-footed ferret and the Bison.