The Palisades Centre, Jasper National Park, an adaptive rehabilitation of a cultural landscape

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Wagner, Jennifer Lee
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We all live upon the land--we all have left our imprint in some form or another and, for each and every one of us, there are places which hold special meanings and messages. Cultural landscapes are such an integral part of our everyday lives, yet, it is only within recent years that we are taking the initiative to recognize the value of these landscapes and protect those mos important to us, historically, culturally and spiritually. This study is one which explores the inherent value of one unique landscape. It is a study which recognizes the importance of our past cultural elements, practices and ways of life in today's world--not merely as museum artifacts to be looked at from afar, but as functioning, evolving landscapes, adjusting to both contemporary and future needs. This examination of the Palisades Centre, located in Jasper National Park, is one which utilizes knowledge from a number of academic fields including history, anthropology, botany, ecology, architecture and landscape architecture. This study is directed at rehabilitating an existing, private landscape, rich in culture, history and natural beauty, adapting it to suit contemporary and future public uses, as well as illustrating its rich past. The Palisades Centre poses many challenges; it is a landscape comprised of four distinct eras of cultural use and change, each contributing to the uniqueness of this landscape. These eras have been draped over the landscape like layers. Each of these eras, or layers of history, has its own distinct quality, characteristics, artifacts and personalities associated with it which are integral to the evolution of the present-day site. However, these challenges become opportunities for the designer; to adapt historic buildings and facilities for researchers and guests, to restore heritage landscaping and to recreate a context and sense of place, as well as proposing new and appropriate functions, adapting this historic landscape to meet contemporary and potential future requirements of the site.