Understanding Our History
In February 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order that forcibly moved nearly 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans into 10 isolated Incarceration Centers throughout the western US. The last one closed in March 1946. Most of the temporary, tar paper-covered barracks, guard towers and barbed-wire fences have vanished. But the people who spent years of their lives in the centers will never forget them.
One of those centers, Minidoka in the high desert of Idaho, is now a national historic site. At one time, Minidoka held about 9,500 incarcerees from Washington, Oregon and Alaska.
An interdisciplinary design team working with the National Park Service provided planning, design and construction support in the ongoing establishment of the site as a new unit of the National Park Service. In the early stages, we developed project and program statements, performed condition assessments for cultural landscape features and outlined specific recommendations for park projects to support education, interpretation and understanding of the site and its history. The next stage included schematic designs and construction documents for the adaptive reuse of a historic warehouse district to serves as the park’s visitor contact station. A key design component created an accessible route using universal design principles that are compatible with the cultural landscape character.