National Landmark Continues to Unveil Arizona Desert’s Modernist Legacy

Last remaining Richard Neutra-designed structure in the National Park Service makes new strides in restoration efforts

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National Landmark Continues to Unveil Arizona Desert's Modernist Legacy
© Dawn Kish

On April 7th, the National Trust for Historic Preservation marked a milestone in the ongoing revitalization of the Painted Desert Community Complex at Petrified Forest National Park—the successful restoration of the Modern masterpiece’s original glass storefront. This achievement reveals the Complex’s original, forward-looking vision and builds on the increasing recognition of its bold design and innovative visitor center concept.

“We are excited to be a part of these efforts to protect and celebrate the Painted Desert Community Complex and its Modern architectural heritage, and we commend our partners on their excellent stewardship of this National Treasure,” said David J. Brown, Executive Vice President and Chief Preservation Officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “The National Park Service’s dedication to the ongoing restoration of one of the earliest and best examples of Modern design within its parks will ensure it provides a spectacular experience for the site’s numerous visitors for years to come.”

The restoration of the Painted Desert Community Complex’s glass Oasis Building storefront, which once again features unobstructed views of the courtyard and Complex, was made possible in part by a $150,000 grant from American Express, secured by the National Trust to help undo the inappropriate alterations made to this prominent building decades ago.

“The partnership between the National Trust, American Express and the National Park Service to restore a part of the Painted Desert Community Complex serves as a national model for how we can leverage public private partnerships to preserve our most significant heritage assets,” said Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. “I am proud to see these partnerships operating in Arizona’s 22 national parks as well as the 35 parks that comprise our state parks system.” […]

[…] With nearly 700,000 visitors to Petrified Forest National Park last year, the National Park Service has allocated upwards of an additional $7 million to complete the rehabilitation of the entire Complex by the end of 2022. Restoring the Painted Desert Community Complex’s historic integrity and addressing years of deferred maintenance will give visitors a new chance to recapture and experience the optimistic spirit of the original design’s intention. […]