Vermillion Highlands is a 2800 acre future regional park. In our group I designed the trailhead and interpretive center, which were to be located on the top of a large hill. I explored how the spaces would interact with topography and circulation. By siting the interpretive center on the southern side of the hill and the trailhead on the top – featuring expansive views – it became the perfect place to become oriented to the landscape and learn about the historic and scientific significance of the park. I designed the road to curve around the topography, giving visitors varying views around the hill and injecting the drive to the interpretive center with mystery and a sense of destination. Pathways through the parking lots lead visitors through different landscapes on their way to the center. At the trailhead, skiers, equestrians, and hikers find amenities and an interpretive viewing platform.
The interpretive viewing platform, Lone Rock Lookout, at the trailhead informs visitors of the cultural history of the site, both literally and representationally. From the platform one can see across the landscape toward the park’s main geological feature: Lone Rock. A ramp allows accessibility to all visitors. Around the platform are materials that function both as climbing and sitting areas, and as material representations of one of the historical residents of the site. The grass-covered terraces represent the farming traditions. The boulder cascade represents the Dakota tribe because of its reference to Lone Rock which was a sacred site to them. This also provides an alternate climbing area since there is no climbing on the real feature. The metal wall “cutout” on the end of the platform represents the history of industry, and functions as a physical form of displacement.