The Albright Visitor Center in Yellowstone National Park is housed in one of the old buildings built when the military occupied the park in the very early 1900s. As such, engineers didn't think much about earthquakes.
However, quakes are common events in Yellowstone, and today's engineers believe it's time to retrofit the beautiful stone building, which housed bachelors, to better withstand the temblors.
Named after Horace Albright, the park's first superintendent and the second National Park Service director, the building located at Mammoth Hot Springs had been through a variety of uses before officially becoming the Albright Visitor Center in 1979.
The current project will involve a seismic retrofit of the existing historic stone building, as well as, addressing some accessibility and life safety concerns. The seismic retrofit requires the installation of a steel frame inside the structure and attaching the frame to the stonework.
In addition to the structural changes, the exhibits will also be receiving a makeover, according to a park release.
While each visitor center throughout the park has a specific focus, the Albright Visitor Center center will feature exhibits on park history and the Northern Range area of Yellowstone, with its diverse and abundant wildlife. A new and dynamic orientation area with interactive displays will offer enhanced trip planning information for visitors.
Rounding out the services that will be available in the renovated facility will be a backcountry permit office where hikers can obtain permits and up-to-date information for backcountry trip planning. The park’s nonprofit cooperating association, the Yellowstone Association, will operate a bookstore in the building were visitors will find a variety of educational materials about Yellowstone and the surrounding region.
The project, being overseen by Swank Enterprises, which also completed the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center and the Mammoth Justice Center, is expected to be completed by spring of 2015. The projected opening date for the new visitor center is the summer of 2015.
During the duration of the project, the visitor center operations will be relocated into a temporary building located nearby. All visitor services, including the Yellowstone Association store, will continue in the temporary location.