NPS: Yosemite Utility Building Assessment

By Paul Riley, AIA, Principal

At MCA, we are always excited to be working on projects for the National Park Service. Not all projects for NPS are in the public limelight, but all are significant in their own way.  In recent years, MCA has worked with NPS on nearly 30 projects across the country including mission critical work, museums, visitor centers, downtown areas, historic districts, archeological archiving facilities, and maintenance projects—all equally valuable to the National Park Services and it’s mission.

MCA’s work for NPS includes the recent facility assessment of Yosemite National Park’s historic Utility Building.  Constructed in the 1930s at the center of the Yosemite Fort complex, the facility’s use has evolved over the past 86 years to become an Essential Services hub for Yosemite and is the home for the Fire Department, Law Enforcement, Jail, the Pacific field office for the Investigative Services for the National Park Service, and the communications tower.

The building continues to be the home for the current maintenance programs in the park which include the roads and large vehicle shop, trail maintenance and equipment shop, carpentry shop, custodial, and utility shop and offices, and parts storage.  Many of the existing programs have outgrown the available space and one of our primary responsibilities was to re-program/re-organize the use of the facility and master plan the reorganization of these functions to meet the needs of the park today.

On a recent trip to Yosemite, our team met with key stakeholders, interviewed users, and observed the use of the building to develop recommendations to meet the current programmatic needs.  A detailed survey was completed to assess the condition of the historic building including a comparison of the existing conditions to the original drawings to determine what was historic versus what had been modified so we could make recommendations on what should be preserved and restored.  We also examined the essential service requirements, life safety, accessibility, security, structure, seismic design, and MEP systems to determine what modifications were required to make the building safe and maintain the function of the facility of an essential services complex while preserving the historic fabric of the asset.  The report will include a cost estimate and will be used to justify the required improvements to seek funding to keep the park facility functioning with the essential services 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.