Headwaters Interpretive Center: Preserving the Past While Sustaining the Future of Itasca State Park
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Itasca State Park has been a popular tourist attraction in northern Minnesota for many decades. Containing the Headwaters to the Mississippi River along with some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the state has lured people to the park to experience its unique opportunities. In addition to the popular attractions which the park is well known for, Itasca State Park has a very rich and diverse history that must be preserved. The recently constructed Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center is a start, but there are many more interesting stories to be told about the history and opportunities that the park can provide. This thesis project is comprised of a multi-use facility for Itasca State Park of which an interpretive center is the main focus. With a steady increase in the amount of visitors, improvements must be made to the park facilities in order to keep up with the demand that comes with the increase in tourism. The main elements in the project are the interpretive center, a gift shop, a multi-use space that can be used as a classroom or conference room, a lodge, and a restaurant. The center is to provide educational functions as well as recreational opportunities. The interpretive center includes cultural and natural displays emphasizing the Native American influences in the area, the discovery of the Mississippi Headwaters, the ecology of the area, as well as displays concerning preservation measures that have been undertaken by the park.