July 28, 2010 Mid-Century Modern

The Mid-Century Modernism of Mission 66

The 1957 Canyon Lodge in Yellowstone National Park. Photos by Stephen Aserkoff.

It’s hot in D.C and almost August. Congress is preparing for its extended “recess.” With many people planning their escapes (especially those still without power), I thought it would be good to highlight the mid-century modernism of the country’s National Parks, many of which are out west and have less humidity and cooler evenings than here. The mid-century modern visitors’ centers and lodges at many of the parks were built under Mission 66,  “a federally sponsored program to improve deteriorated and dangerous conditions in the national parks, the result of a massive visitor boom after World War II,” according to the Mission 66 website, created by Christine Madrid French, now head of the National Trust’s Modernism + Recent Past program. “Mission projects began in 1956 and ended in 1966. During those ten years, more than $1 billion was spent on infrastructure and other improvements in the parks. Mission 66 planners and architects developed the concept of the ‘visitor center’ to streamline and standardize visitor services at federal parks nationwide. Approximately 100 new visitor centers were built during the ten-year program.” The 1957 Canyon Lodge featured in this post is in Yellowstone. All images were taken by my friend Stephen Aserkoff, who recently returned to the heat of D.C. from 30 degree weather at night.

The lodge evokes an Eichler from California with the extended beams and wall of glass.