National Parks Now

Submission: October 30, 2014
Registration: October 10, 2014
Language: English 
Location: National Historical Parks, USA
Prizes1st prize: $15,000 stipend
Type: Open competition for students and young architects.

National Parks Now is a competition inviting multidisciplinary teams of young professionals to develop strategies for reshaping the national parks visitor experience.

As the National Park Service prepares to celebrate its centennial in 2016, the competition highlights four parks in the Northeast Region as case studies for attracting diverse audiences, telling new stories, and engaging the next generation of visitors at a time of fast-evolving technologies, regional contexts, and audience expectations. The National Parks Now sites tell complex stories about one of the country’s densest and most diverse urban regions, containing countless layers of the nation’s economic, ecological, and cultural history.

National Parks Now calls on teams to propose a broad range of interventions—new learning tools, hands-on workshops, customizable self-led tours, site-specific leisure and exploration opportunities, digital narratives, short or long-term interactive installations, performance events, outreach and engagement campaigns, for example—to create new experiences that connect these parks to larger, more diverse audiences throughout the region, and develop a model for similar parks nationwide.

Drawing together professionals from the fields of architecture and landscape architecture, graphic and interactive design, exhibition and film production, history, preservation, communications, and the social and environmental sciences, teams will explore how these parks can provide opportunities for reflection, recreation, and learning; identify partnerships and ventures that could transform visitors into stewards and ambassadors; and re-imagine how historic sites can respond to changing demographics and technologies. At a time of limited park resources and budgets, new ideas and strategies are needed to ensure these sites’ relevance and long-term sustainability, and to attract larger, increasingly diverse audiences that have countless opportunities for how they are entertained, educated, and engaged in the world around them.

By focusing not on capital projects that require huge investments of time and resources but rather calling for a nimbler range of engagement, outreach, and experiential strategies, National Parks Now provides an opportunity for teams to truly push the boundaries of what national parks can be in the 21st century.

Date: September 11, 2014