Washington Pass North Cascades, Washington
Client: Kelbaugh-Calthorpe Architects
Dates of Service: 1991
This visitor center was built at an elevation of 5,400 feet in the North Cascade highlands in Washington state, which presented some challenging environmental factors. Extreme snowfalls and below-freezing temperatures make it impossible to reach the building from early winter until late spring.
There is much potential for leaks and damage under these extreme environmental circumstances. The sturdy timber wood frame structure of the visitor center includes wide roof overhangs to shield the building’s exterior walls from extreme weather. The single slope of the standing seam metal roof keeps snow from piling up at the front door.
Some of its walls are composed of concrete and coated in stone veneer, while others are framed in wood and covered in wood siding. PL:BECS’s services included advising the architect on matters such as the building’s outside cladding, penetrating masonry repellents, stone veneer masonry, and sub-grade waterproofing.
Awe-Inspiring Scenery: Visitors to the Washington Pass Visitor Center can enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, such as Liberty Bell Mountain and Early Winter Spires. Visitors are greeted by breathtaking views of jagged mountains, deep gorges, and crystal-clear alpine lakes.
This natural paradise is made even more beautiful by the array of colors displayed by wildflowers and the changing leaves in autumn and spring.
Outdoor Recreation: The Washington Pass Visitor Center serves as a hub from which a wide range of outdoor activities can be launched. Hikers can choose from a variety of routes, from short hikes to strenuous multi-day treks. Popular routes such as Blue Lake, Cutthroat Lake, and Maple Pass Loop include stunning natural beauty and abundant wildlife.
Photography and Inspiration: Many photographers flock to the Washington Pass Visitor Center to capture the dramatic scenery and the interplay of light and shadow against the wild mountain backdrop. The natural beauty of the area is a never-ending source of ideas for stunning landscape photographs.
Seasonal Delights: The Washington Pass Visitor Center exhibits the changing of the seasons, highlighting a variety of natural phenomena. In summer, alpine meadows bloom with wildflowers, and in autumn, the landscape becomes a kaleidoscope of golds, reds, and oranges as the leaves change.
A winter wonderland of snow-capped peaks awaits you, along with cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Preservation and Conservation: The visitor’s center doubles as a forum for promoting eco-friendliness and preservation efforts. Educational programs, interactive exhibits, and guided ranger-led activities help visitors get a better appreciation for the North Cascades’ fragile ecosystems and the importance of maintaining them for future generations.
The visitor’s center doubles as a forum for promoting eco-friendliness and preservation efforts. Educational programs, interactive exhibits, and guided ranger-led activities help visitors get a better appreciation for the North Cascades’ fragile ecosystems and the importance of maintaining them for future generations.