One does not impose, but rather expose the site.
Robert Smithson

Martin Hogue is the William Munsey Kennedy Jr. Fellow at the State University of New York’s Department of Landscape Architecture in the College of Environmental Science and Forestry, where has worked since 2010. Trained as an architect and landscape architect, and working primarily with analytical drawings as a mode of inquiry, his research explores the notion of "site" as a cultural construction—specifically, the mechanisms by which locations become invested with the unique potential to acquire the designation of site.

Hogue's most recent work, which centers around camping culture in the United States, interrogates the discrepancies that exist between the deeply cherished American ideal of ruggedness and independence and the desire for an increasingly sophisticated range of utilities and conveniences. Campgrounds indeed commodify into multiple sites — literally tens of thousands of them across the United States — the locus of this singular experience. Each “lone” campsite functions as a stage upon which cultural fantasies can be performed in full view of an audience of fellow campers interested in much the “wilderness” experience. In [Fake] Fake Estates, completed in 2006, Hogue proposes a new take on Gordon Matta-Clark’s seminal 1975 Fake Estates project, in which the artist purchased and later documented 14 residual land parcels at auction in Queens for $25 each (a 2.33’ x 355’ long strip of land, a 1.83’ x 1.11’ lot, among others). This project is one of many (Landing Strip, The Site as Project, etc.) that pays tribute to 1960s and 1970s conceptual artists such as Matta-Clark, Robert Smithson, and Walter De Maria, whose site explorations form the basis of contemporary speculation in his work.

Hogue’s research has been supported with residencies at the MacDowell Colony (2005), the Center for Land Use Interpretation (2006), the Canadian Center for Architecture (2009), and the University of Nebraska, where he was appointed Hyde Chair in 2004. His work has appeared in 306090, Architecture-Québec, Bracket (2014), Dichotomy, Ground Magazine, Landscape Journal, Numéro, Pidgin, Places, Thresholds, and the Journal of Architectural Education. His 2003 photographs of Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty have appeared in Bookforum, Numéro, as well as two monographs on the work of the artist published by the Dia Art Foundation and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Hogue's drawings have been exhibited widely at venues across the United States, including The Ohio State University, Cornell University, the Urban Center in New York and the Center for Land Use Interpretation.

Download CV

Contact:martinhogue@earthlink.net

University of Illinois
College of Applied+Fine Arts

Temple Hoyne Buell Hall Gallery
March 31 - April 11, 2014
Opening and gallery talk: April 2, 2014


08.27.2014: 4 Drawings lecture and exhibit reception at Penn State University, Stuckeman School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. Link

08.18.2014: 925,000 Campsites exhibit opens at Penn State University's Rouse Gallery in the Stuckeman School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture.

05.09.2014: 925,000 Campsites exhibit opens at the University of Colorado, Denver.

04.02.2014: 925,000 Campsites exhibit reception and gallery talk at at Temple Hoyne Buell Hall gallery, University of Illinois.

03.31.2014: 925,000 Campsites exhibit opens in at Temple Hoyne Buell Hall gallery, University of Illinois College of Applied+Fine Arts.

03.23.2014: Tackling the Task of Drawing: St-Louis architect Eric Shripka on Martin Hogue's work. Link

03.19.2014: 4 Drawings lecture at Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, Washington University in St-Louis.

02.17.2014: 925,000 Campsites exhibit opens in at Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, Washington University in St-Louis.

02.07.2014: Hyde lecture at University of Nebraska explores the role of drawing in research.

02.07.2014: 925,000 Campsites exhibit reception at University of Nebraska College of Architecture.

01.21.2014: 925,000 Campsites exhibit opens at University of Nebraska College of Architecture.

01.2014: The Cinematic Flâneur: Film and Site Exploration published in "Ground" Magazine issue on New Media. Link

11.11.2013: 925,000 Campsites exhibit opens at State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry with reception and gallery talk.

10.21.2013: exhibit reception and gallery talk at Cornell University.

10.07.2013: 925,000 Campsites exhibit opens at Cornell University, College of Architecture, Art and Design. Link

01.31.2013: opening of Vive La Ville! group exhibit at Centre d'exposition de l'Université de Montréal honors architect, artist and educator Melvin Charney. Link

07.02.2012: Kampground, America published in "Places". Link

02.26.2012: camping research paper delivered at American Association of Geographers (AAG) annual meeting, New York.

03.03.2012: Un-Privileged Views group exhibit opens at WUHO Gallery, Los Angeles. Link

11.14.2011: last showing of [Fake] Fake Estates exhibit at Hobart and William Smith Colleges opens with reception and gallery talk.

05.31.2011: A Brief History of the Campsite published in "Places". Link

04.15.2011: panel discussion for book release of GeoHumanities: Art, History, Text at the Edge of Place (Routledge, 2010), American Association of Geographers (AAG) annual meeting, Seattle.

04.15.2011: camping research paper delivered at American Association of Geographers (AAG) annual meeting, Seattle.

04.14.2011: [Fake] Fake Estates appears in GeoHumanities: Art, History, Text at the Edge of Place (Routledge, 2010). Link

03.04.2011: Films That Look Like Drawings (Drawings That Look Like Films) lecture and workshop, Illinois Institute of Technology. Link
"The Cinematic Flâneur: Film and Site Exploration". Ground Magazine, issue 24: New Media (Ontario Association of Landscape Architects: winter 2013-2014), pp.18-21.

“Fully Serviced”, Bracket (2014)

“Kampground, America”, Places journal, posted 07.02.12

“A Brief History of the Campsite”, Places Journal, posted 05.31.11

“[Fake] Fake Estates: Reconsidering Gordon Matta-Clark’s Fake Estates”, in Geohumanities: Art, History, Text at the Edge of Place, ed. Jim Ketchum et al., (London: Routledge, 2010), pp.38-45.

“Land, Speed, and Bonneville”, Places journal, posted 08.09.10

“[Fake] Fake Estates: Reconsidering Gordon Matta-Clark’s Fake Estates”, 306090 volume 12 (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2009), pp. 172-181. Download

"SITE: Identity in Density / Master Architect Series V". Landscape Journal”27:1 (2006), pp.155-157.
Book review of the monograph on architect James Wines and SITE.

"[Fake] Fake Estates: Reconsidering Gordon Matta-Clark’s Fake Estates". 2006. Exhibit booklet on sale at Printed Matter (New York), Art Metropole (Toronto), and Canadian Center for Architecture (Montreal). Original printing: 200 copies. Also included in Canadian Center for Architecture library collection. Download

“A Site Constructed: The Bonneville Salt Flats and the Land Speed Record, 1935-1970”, Landscape Journal 24:1 (2005), pp.32-49. Download

Spiral Jetty- 08.2003. Photographs included in Robert Smithson: Spiral Jetty (New York: Dia Center for the Arts, 2005), pp.42-45, 121.

Spiral Jetty- 08.2003. Photograph featured on the cover of “Bookforum”, December 04 / January 05.

“The Site as Project: Lessons From Conceptual Art and Land Art”, Journal of Architectural Education vol. 57 no 3 (2004), pp.54-61. Download

Spiral Jetty- 08.2003. Photographs included in Robert Smithson (Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2004), pp.96, 103.

"Horizons: Exploring the Earthworks and Related Projects", Thresholds no 27 (2004), pp.66-75. Download

Landing Strip: Exploring the Ground Line as Site . “Dichotomy” no 15, University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture journal (2004), pp.9-26.


Download the 32 page exhibit booklet
Purchase the booklet from Printed Matter, New York
Purchase the booklet from Art Metropole, Toronto
Purchase the booklet from the Canadian Center for Architecture, Montreal
Download the article published in 306090

Within architectural thought and process, the site is traditionally thought of as a physical location, a piece of ground that is bound to the earth and subject to its physical laws. Site is also commonly conceived as a location for an intervention; a neutral or unfinished “lot” to be completed by an architectural project. Site and project are often thought to be distinct, one making way for the other.

Work performed in the context of Land and Conceptual Art provides a unique challenge to these assumptions. In these works, the site and the project are understood as interwoven in the production of art. For artists like Robert Smithson, Walter de Maria, and Gordon Matta-Clark, the “site” is integral to the activities of reflection (design) and making (production). The location of the work is established by the artist and the material qualities often emerge from a manipulation of found conditions as much as from new construction. In such projects, the “site” not only invites artistic activity but often constitutes its constructive result.

The Fake Estates

Best known for his spatially dynamic extractions of large sections of walls and floors from abandoned buildings, in 1975 Gordon Matta-Clark purchased thirteen parcels of residual land in Queens, NY, that had been deemed “gutter space” or “curb property” and put on sale for $25 each. These properties, a 2.33’ x 355’ long strip of land, a 1.83’ x 1.11’ lot, and other similarly unusual lots, were purchased with the goal of highlighting neglected architectural environments that make up the urban and suburban fabric. Many were literally inaccessible and landlocked between buildings or other properties. The artist created an exhibit of his newly acquired “properties” by assembling a photographic inventory of each site, and, with deadpan accuracy, its exact dimensions and location, as well as the deed to the property [image ref: matta-clark Fake Estates info For Matta-Clark, “the unusability of this land—and the verification of space through the laws of property—is [the] principal object of [his] critique” (2).

As an architect, what has long fascinated me about the Fake Estates was the unbuildabuility of the parcels—that is, their inability to receive a building in the traditional sense. Matta-Clark is suggesting rhetorically that a site could be something else than a piece of land to receive a building. Furthermore, I was fascinated with the idea that an act of documentation could constitute an end result in itself. Within architecture, the act of documenting a site is perceived as transitory at best: the site eventually makes way for the project. Before the period in which the architect is involved intellectually with the site, this location exists merely as a place of unfocused attention—a place that doesn’t command any specific meaning attached to architecture or building. In short, the site exists because it captures the architect’s attention, his or her energies and skills. Architects record impressions and construct representations of the site that will enable them to visualize and conceptualize its attributes while not physically being there, at least not at all times: measurements, photographs of critical features, surrounding context, light orientation and all other features are noted for later reference. More often than not, the site exists in the mind through these constructed representations. In short, as a product of the architect’s own making and decisions, the representations become the site. The idea raises some interesting questions: can the site constitute an end product within architecture? Is a constructed site somehow less than a building?

The [Fake] Fake Estates

[Fake] Fake Estates: Reconsidering Gordon Matta-Clark’s Fake Estates emerged as an attempt to address some of these issues. Here, the Fake Estates become both a site to be critically reinvested as well as the starting point for other, more speculative endeavors. I began this project by spending several months systematically canvassing the entire borough of Queens for residual properties similar to the thirteen parcels purchased and documented by Matta-Clark in 1975. Canvassing for these properties occurred in two ways: online browsing through the New York City property database and visual consultation of the 25 Sanborn Map catalogs that make up the borough of Queens.



Browsing through this database occurs in a linear fashion, by moving forward or backward, one property after another (3). The nearly one million properties that comprise the database are organized chronologically- first by borough (Manhattan: 1, Bronx: 2, Brooklyn: 3, Queens: 4, Staten Island: 5), then by block number, and finally by individual lot number within each city block. For example, 5246 70th Street in Queens is also known as lot 4-2497-39 (borough-block-property). In all, nearly 16,500 blocks and 365,000 properties are found in the borough of Queens alone. Properties in this database are assigned individual pages, independent of their size, location, use, and value. The neutrality of the system (1 page = 1 property) leads to some interesting comparisons: the 10 cheapest residual lots found in Queens (which have a combined value of $292), occupy 10 pages in the database, while JFK International Airport, whose value exceeds nine billion dollars, occupies only six pages in the same database.



The linear labeling system organizes the 1 million properties chronologically, beginning with the first property in Manhattan (borough 1) and ending with the last property in Staten Island (borough 5). This online browsing offers a peculiar sense of geography in that it does not reveal that consecutive properties in the database (the last lot on a city block and the first on the next) can literally be located miles apart. Through the database, the city is presented as a series of individual fragments, each one click away from the next, undermining the city’s organization of streets, fabric, public spaces and buildings.



This single line can, in turn, also be represented in geographical terms by corresponding each point along this line to its physical location on a map of the city. Given the visual rigidity of the online interface and the mechanical nature of the search process—once click at a time, moving from one property to the next—this survey took nearly six months to complete [image: excel spreadsheet detail]. Browsing through more than a few thousand properties at a time proves difficult: each entry must be read through for at least a few seconds (what is its value? Its size?) before moving on to the next. While the online search was inevitably quite systematic (my initial search criteria called for all properties under $10,000 to be recorded), the process of browsing through the maps of the Sanborn atlases was less rigorous in nature, for some unique spatial arrangements of properties are often easily recognizable, while others can be difficult to spot with the naked eye.



The online database search yielded a number of properties which, by virtue of their minuscule size, are literally invisible in the Sanborn atlases: a 1/8” x 110’ property (4-8099-145-E), for example would read graphically on a map as no more wide than any line marking an edge between 2 adjacent properties. While these properties share physical characteristics with Matta-Clark’s original parcels, these 1,800 properties in this new survey of properties under $10,000 are inauthentic only in the sense that they were not purchased by the artist. If Matta-Clark’s purchases were a play on words on the idea of real estate, then this new survey could only be identified as being comprised of "fake" Fake Estates.



The agency of the map

The unexpected discovery of the 1/8”x110’ parcel after months of careful data mining constitutes an excellent example of the goals of the project as they were shaped by the difficult online search. This project seeks to visually articulate the agency of maps through a consideration of those moments when conventions for establishing the location and the precise boundaries of a site produce a conceptual “excess of surveying.” Maps constitute not simply a way to locate parcels—in a way, one might argue that the Fake Estates and the [Fake] Fake Estates are by-products of mapping and surveying activities. Indeed, many such lots emerged historically as errors and subsequent adjustments to land surveys, where earlier property demarcations (farms, individual villages, etc…), conflicted with rapid and chaotic development throughout the borough of Queens at the cusp of the 20th century.



Can maps help highlight some of these absurdities? While often invisible to the naked eye, the boundaries within a map often split individual blocks or homes, administratively dividing coherent spatial wholes into distinct entities—an interesting reference to Matta-Clark’s own work. I was particularly interested in Matta-Clark’s own use of the Sanborn maps in the Fake Estates. Taken critically as graphic artifacts, the Sanborn conventions—their use of lot numbering system, their delineation of individual properties—seemed to suggest an abnormally large amount of graphic “space” with respect to some of the dimensions of individual properties themselves.



Suggesting a similarly intense consideration of the city’s administrative minutia, the [Fake] Fake Estates drawings operate at a variety of scales: the urban scale of New York City as a whole, the borough, a city block, or even the more intimate contact with a single, full scale plot. Several [Fake] Fake Estates are indeed so small that they are inferior in size to a regularly-sized map or even the dimensions of this very book. Such ironies undermine the role played by the map in articulating spatial relationships within a large territory, while intensifying its role as an active agent of surveying and land subdivision.



The absurd title of the Lots Under $2,000 drawing (above), for example, simultaneously constitutes the drawing’s driving criterion and is meant to underscore the rich number of inexpensive lots in the borough of Queens. Out of the original survey of [Fake] Fake Estates, 714 properties were found to be worth $2,000 or less. The system of dots records geographical location, ownership (black for private, red for city, state, or federal), lot size (diameter), and cost (increasing density denote greater value) of individual properties. The visual density of dots in the drawing exposes specific patterns- the prevalence of red, or publicly owned lots, for example, or the density of cheap lots along the shared border between Queens and Nassau counties.



Other drawings seek to contextualize these properties by comparing their relative dimensions and proportions to one another and to that of more commonly accepted scaling references—namely the human body and the standard Queens lot. In the latter, the 25x100’ lot ironically becomes a constructed end result, cobbled together from various scraps of land; in the former, an installation of some of these very same properties, inspired by Robert Smithson’s Nonsites (1967), allows one to gauge the true size of some of these lots by engaging them at full scale on the floor of the gallery [image: gallery installation photo]. The lot shapes sit on the floor of the gallery and are presented perspectivally to the viewer as planes while the maps and drawings, hung on the wall at eye level, appear in orthographic projection as an undistorted plan image. Thus the same site is presented two ways: one concerned with the experience of sight, the other with an intellectualization or rationalization of the land.



Conclusion

One might be tempted to read far too literally into dimensions as a means to survey the site. James Corner, writing in Taking Measures Across the American Landscape, has warned against the strict instrumentality of measures, adding that measures can instead constitute “a form of contemplative survey,” an “act of taking stock of a richly constructed inheritance” (4). Like Matta-Clark, the goal of this project is not to physically intervene on sites which we assume not to have architectural potential; rather, it is to take delight in the fact that the city as a whole—literally, every square inch of it—is fully accounted for.

Notes

1. Nancy Holt, ed., The Writings of Robert Smithson (New York: New York University Press, 1979), p.47.

2. Pamela Lee, Object to Be Destroyed- The Work of Gordon Matta-Clark (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000), p.104.

3. http://nycserv.nyc.gov/nycproperty/nynav/jsp/selectbbl.jsp

4. Corner, James, and Alex MacLean, Taking Measures Across the American Landscape (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), xvi.






Ohio State University, Knowlton School of Architecture, Banvard Gallery




University of Texas at Austin, School of Architecture, Mebane Gallery


Syracuse University, Warehouse gallery


The exhibition [Fake] Fake Estates: Reconsidering Gordon Matta-Clark]s Fake Estates traveled to 9 universities over a period of 5 years.

Syracuse University, School of Architecture, Warehouse gallery
February 13 – March 17, 2006
Opening and gallery talk: February 13, 2006

University at Buffalo, School of Architecture and Planning, Dyett Gallery
October 15-November 9, 2006
Opening and gallery talk: October 23, 2006

Municipal Art Society of New York, Urban Center galleries
November 15, 2006-January 10, 2007

Ohio State University, Knowlton School of Architecture, Banvard Gallery
January 15-February 9, 2007
Opening and lecture: January 24, 2007

University of Texas at Austin, School of Architecture, Mebane Gallery
February 19-April 6, 2007
Opening and lecture: February 15, 2007

Texas Tech University, College of Architecture
November 01-December 07, 2007
Opening and lecture: December 5, 2007

University of Texas at Arlington, School of Architecture
March 10-March 28, 2008

University of Arkansas, School of Architecture
August 25-October, 2008

Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Davis Gallery at Houghton House
October 14-November 7, 2011
Opening and gallery talk: October 21, 2011

From its modest folk beginnings in the late 1890s to the most recent attempts at over 760 mph (Black Rock Desert, NV, 1997), the chase for the land speed record has captured the public imagination. Unlike typical races, in which individuals compete against one another on a specific course, records are always understood to be temporary conditions- measures to be surpassed, in this case, often by the very same driver who had set the earlier mark. In this chase for time, perfection is an elusive (if not somewhat absurd) goal. While early record-setting vehicles were simply the most sophisticated in the automotive field at the time- sporting competing technologies like electrical, steam-powered, or combustion engines, and driven by the most competent drivers of the day-, such cars quickly proved insufficient given the growing ambitions of new drivers and engineers: beginning in the 1920s, new vehicles were being conceived specifically with the goal of breaking the land speed record, and quickly stopped looking like cars altogether. Borrowing from powerful propulsion technologies developed in aviation and rocket design (their shaping similarly inspired to the point of looking perhaps more like jet airplanes with their wings cropped off, lacking steering ability and traditional break systems), the "land" on which such vehicles would speed on rapidly became indeed a rather conceptual proposition.

With the desire for ever greater speeds came a need to find better terrains to test these vehicles. Speed runs require vast expanses of perfectly flat, unobstructed space- literally stretches of land several miles in both length and width to accommodate for the vehicle’s acceleration, deceleration, and potential deviation off course which, at such speeds, could be fatal. The Bonneville Salt Flats in Western Utah reflect the golden age of the chase for the land speed record. With its perfectly flat elevation across distances so great that the curvature of the earth becomes visible to the naked eye, the flats constitute a benchmark of sorts in speed racing, and for 35 years attracted the best drivers and their crews to compete there. Bonneville saw the speed record being broken no less than 18 times between 1935 and 1970, with final speeds literally doubling the initial record of 301 mph set there by Sir Malcolm Campbell in 1935. This project argues that the program of racing is in fact a sort of idealization of the site and its particular resources, and that consequently the activities of racing and the events of record-setting are in fact entirely connected to a greater sense of the landscape in both space and time. It is through racing on the site that is revealed an exceptional record of human activity.

Download the full article published in Landscape Journal

View a historical slideshow published in the journal PLACES


Locating the site
Site map of Bonneville Salt Flats and environs.




Aerial photograph of the Flats during Speedweek, one of several weeklong, annual racing contests held on the site in late summer.



Don Vesco, aboard Turbinator, setting the (still unbeaten) wheel-driven land speed record of 458 mph on the flats in 2001. Vesco's top speed was clocked at 470 mph, but the official record is an average of the driver's speed through the flying mile — the time it takes to cross a one-mile segment located midway through the track — in both directions, which must occur within one hour. This timing method favors sustained rather than peak speeds, which may last only a few seconds. [Video credit: Rick Vesco]




The race course
The diagonal line at the top represents the Bonneville Salt Flats race course (a-d), with the flying mile (b-c) at the center. Bisecting the map from left to right at the center is Interstate I-80. Bottom left are salt mining operations.




Infrastructures of Transition
The notion of racing on the flats for the land speed record over the past 75 years in fact greatly intensifies a series of narratives of passage and transition which have played a key role in constructing the identity of the region. Over the years, the landscape of Western Utah seems to have intensely resisted the accumulation of solid residues of meaningful, permanent forms of settlement. Indeed while many have indeed traveled across the flats, it seems most were headed someplace else. The graphic strategy for this drawing is to represent the site as a series of overlapping vectors, each highlighting a significant infrastructural narrative related to the site and its development.







Measuring the Performance of the Ground
This drawing explores a crucial moment in the racing history of the Bonneville Salt Flats. In this chart, a complete account of the land speed record since its inception is diagrammed: each single record is represented as a horizontal segment, which begins on the date it is set and ends on the date it is broken (this also coincides with the beginning of a new segment). With the arrival of jet propulsion cars in the early 1960s, we witness an important reconceptualization of the notion and role of the ground with respect to speed: propulsion is now achieved by establishing friction with the air surrounding the car, instead of (more traditionally) with the ground below the vehicle. Tires still carry the vehicle across the flats, but their role is merely to transfer the weight of the car rather than distributing energy to the ground. Indeed, much about the land racing cars of the 1960s literally suggests airplanes with their wings cropped off. In the diagram we notice the sharp increase in the land speed record that coincides with the arrival of jet propulsion cars: this moment is marked in the chart as a split into 2 different vectors--the one with the lower inclination representing speed records for wheel-driven vehicles which has leveled off significantly in the last 40 years. Purists have stated that the land speed record should be limited to wheel-driven vehicles because they employ the ground as its means of traction. In this regard, the diagram seems to suggest that there might be a limit to speeds being achieved by land after all. This limit is represented as a wide blue horizontal band, 100 miles an hour thick, within which it is reasonable to expect that the wheel-driven record will remain for some time.






Ground: Surface, Traces, Index
This drawing explores the nature of this conceptually pure “white” ground surface and its capacity to register the activities that take place upon it. The traces that remain form a virtual index of the activities that have taken place there: paint marks delineating the various pit areas, deep holes marking the presence of a temporary structure (tent or other), skid marks, the boundaries of the course itself--all these litter this “white” surface as remains of former occupations. Photographs of these residual traces are assembled to form a larger representation of the ground. This surface is bisected by a fragment of a USGS map of the site. These two levels of scale of photography of the site (one a few feet above the salt surface, the other several thousand above it) are assembled, and various seams are thickened with additional levels of information regarding the racing procedures surrounding the land speed record.







Edges and Contours

It is ironic that measures of land speed on the flats are timed to the thousandth of a second in a landscape that has literally remained physically unchanged in the last 10,000 years. The mountains in the background serve as an index of the various water levels of Lake Bonneville over the site—an ancient lake formed 32,000 years ago that used to include the Great Salt Lake and an area 12 times its size. How could such precision emerge out of such timelessness?

Each year in late fall and winter, like clockwork, the flats are naturally flooded with winter rains and melting snow water from surrounding mountains. This natural process, aided by a 5 year, 6 million ton “salt laydown” campaign led by the BLM and largely financed by local mining concerns, helps rejuvenate the salt surface—cleansing it, as it were, of former occupations. While the water makes it impossible to permanently erect anything on the site, it also ensures, upon complete evaporation (a process that requires several months), the hard and smooth surface prized by racers. The period in the summer between the natural evaporation of water on the flats and its flooding later in the year marks the beginning and end of the annual racing season.

Center for Land Use Interpretation


University of Nebraska

The drawings and research on the Bonneville Salt Flats and the land speed record have been a part of the Speed Museum's permanent collection (Lincoln, NE) since 2004, and have appeared at a number of venues over the past several years.

University of Nebraska, School of Architecture gallery
Hyde Chair endowment lecture and exhibit
November 4-19, 2004

Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI)
Wendover Exhibit Hall, Wendover, UT

July 2008-January 2011

University of Utah, College of Architecture and Planning
March 10-April 15, 2011


There is a satisfying immediacy about the prospect of establishing an encampment for the night—clearing the site, erecting the tent, chopping wood, building a fire and cooking over the live flame—that in turn suggests a meaningful connection to landscape, place, and the rugged life of backwoods adventurers. At its essence camping is an act of faith and survival, a way to buttress an isolated human settlement against the forces of nature. Situated "somewhere between challenging new circumstances and the safe reassurances of familiarity," the camp is a temporary substitute for the home—a place to dwell, to sleep, to interact socially, to prepare and eat food. Stripped of any but the most vital conveniences, the camp is literally and figuratively open to the stimuli of its natural surroundings.

This summer millions of Americans will take to the road in search of this powerful experience of nature. Campgrounds all across the country commodify the locus of this singular experience into multiple sites. That parcel of land upon which most will elect to park their car, trailer, camper, or RV is thus not only an imagined ideal: as the exhibit title suggests, there are over 500,000 campsites across the country, but a definitive figure remains somewhat elusive, despite an extensive and rigorous process of compilation. In 2010, Kampgrounds of America—KOA, familiarly—alone reported a total consumption of over five million campsite-nights, as well as 1.5 million hits monthly on its website. Demand for sites remains very high, as evidenced by would-be campers turning to Craigslist to purchase campsite usage at Yosemite National Park during busy holiday weekends at three or four times their original price. Further, the record sales reported by sporting utility stores like REI and EMS owe largely to the retailers' successful efforts to associate their equipment with the out-of-doors and the prospect of a healthy living. For many urbanites, high-performance gear like hiking boots and mountaineering vests have even become staples of everyday casual chic.



Modern campgrounds are replete with delightful irony. Each "lone" campsite functions as a stage upon which cultural fantasies can be performed in full view of an audience of fellow campers interested in much the same "wilderness" experience. For artist Robert Smithson, whose sensitivities to site and site-making were informed by the childhood family camping trips he helped organize, the campsite was where one could reenact the making of a place. Who in the camping community has not experienced a degree of gear envy at the sight, at a neighboring campsite, of a brand new Primus Gravity II EasyFuel stove (with piezo ignition), a Sierra Designs tent, or a Marmot sleeping bag? KOA even leases some permanently parked Airstream trailers, which allow campers to spend the night in a cultural icon; this experiment allows would-be campers to show up without any personal equipment, just as they would at a roadside motel. No wonder that the daily repetition of chores once associated with survival has now been so fully recast as a series of almost spiritual rituals intended to reconnect the camper with what has been largely lost; for by now most of the old necessities—hiking to and clearing the site, hunting for game, collecting water and firewood—have given way to such less arduous activities as parking the car, pitching cable-free pop tents, buying cold cuts at the campground store, hooking up electrical and sewerage conduits, setting up patio chairs, etc. Serviced by networks of infrastructure and populated with trailers and $300,000 RVs, campgrounds celebrate a unique form of American ingenuity in which intersecting narratives and desires (wilderness, individuality, access, speed, comfort, nostalgia, profit) have become strangely and powerfully hybridized.

To tell the story of the commodification of camping is not to tell the story of any one site or even any one campground, but rather to examine how this cultural ideal of rugged American character came to be appropriated and transformed into generic and widely replicated templates of spatial protocols. It is to talk not only about campers but also about the crucial role of motor vehicles in shaping this narrative, which begins rather innocuously with early twentieth-century roadside bivouacs and culminates in today's tightly organized loops of dedicated plots. Tracing the historical arc that connects late nineteenth century recreational campers to the Adirondacks with overnighting RVers in a Walmart parking lot, the next few posts put forth four key themes (1. Campsite: functions as standard the unit of management of any campground; 2. Geography: examines the range of destinations as disparate as Yosemite National Park or the KOA on the Las Vegas Strip; 3. Services: the range of utilities that service modern campgrounds; 4. Operation: the organization of campgrounds into national systems and franchises) that are key to measuring the radical physical and cultural transformations of the campground in the past century: taken together, these form a coherent basis to this temporal narrative.

Comprising author-produced drawings and more traditional, scholarly research, this 4 year project has been packaged into an exhibit that is set travel extensively between 2013 and 2015. After opening at Cornell University in October 2013, the exhibit will be shown at SUNY ESF, the University of Nebraska, the University of Illinois, Washington University in St-Louis, Penn State University, Woodbury University, Louisiana State University, and the University of Georgia, among others.


A camp proper is a nomad’s binding-place. He may occupy it for a season, or only for a single night, according as the site and its surroundings please or do not please the wanderer’s whim. If the fish do not bite, or the game has moved away, or unpleasant neighbors should intrude, or if anything else goes wrong, it is but an hour’s work for him to pull up stakes and be off, seeking that particularly good place which generally lies beyond the horizon’s rim.
— Horace Kephart, Camping and Woodcraft

The first act of camping is laying claim to the site. As seductive as the image of the camper pitching a tent may be, this "inherited symbol of high adventure," no longer constitutes the first gesture of occupation. Before the car or RV is even parked , before the supplies are unloaded, crucial events have in fact already occurred: some visitors may have reserved their campsite days, weeks, or even months in advance using an online reservation system; others have called the campground from the road hours earlier to secure a spot; before they gain access to the campground, these and all other incoming campers will have met one-on-one with a campground attendant, exchanged perfunctory information (camper's name, address, license plate number, credit card information), received a parking pass and a facilities map denoting the precise location of their campsite. By this time, the attendant has probably grabbed a handy fluorescent marker and preformed The Circling—marking in ink that location agreed upon by the two individuals and thereby ingeniously supporting the illusion of the 'cleared site': like a signature, this simple personal gesture makes each copy of the map (and therefore each individual visit to the campground) seem original, as if each site were being claimed for the first time.

Beyond its obvious way-finding benefits, the map possesses a peculiar kind of agency: this visual diagram employs graphic strategies that reveal little or nothing of the surrounding environment. Significantly, this cartographic representation promotes an awareness of the campground as a self-sufficient territory independent of its natural surroundings. Depicting numbered plots, roads, trails, bathrooms, showers, water taps, wood bins, canteens, boat launches, and the like, the map offers information through which we can understand and use the campground as a landscape; it not only situates but also establishes, reminding us of the limits of encampment, and of our place inside these limits.

While maps denote individual campsites, the use of similar graphic strategies across campgrounds of every stripe suggests that they are all in some ways rather generic. Ironically, the X marked in fluorescent ink on the map reduces the specific place to an impersonal coordinate. The mark seems at once an imperative (“Camp here”) and a record of an event—the classic pin on a map of places visited. Site is no longer a spatial condition defined by unique surroundings, but rather an abstract designation, akin to a suburban tract or urban parcel. The act of claiming a site is reduced to a choice between competing amenities: Near the bathroom or the water tap? Near the RV loop? How far away are my neighbors?

To preserve the carefully staged illusion of discovering and dwelling in the wilderness, the modern campsite must function as a perpetually unfinished site, provisionally completed each time a new visitor completes the steps described above. The delicate balance between the physical clearing of trees and ground vegetation with the relative absence of fixed infrastructural components beyond picnic tables and fire-pits creates a persuasive sense of rusticity. The loosely domesticated site requires the participation of campers who, importing their own equipment—tent, food, sleeping bags—make its inhabitance possible. By later taking care to pack up all belongings and remove all waste, each group fulfills the final ritual of camping while also unintentionally preparing the site for the next occupant. This unending cycle allows each group of travelers the feeling that they have discovered a site and participated in its construction by temporarily staking claim to it for the night. Hundreds of campers may occupy the same site in a single season, but each will remain unknown to the others.

Read the full article published in the journal PLACES



1865–1895
First camps

Stemming from a belief that outdoor experiences can be both physically and spiritually rejuvenating, recreational camping in the United States emerges in the decades following the Civil War. Writing in The Meridian Literary Recorder in 1867, William Henry Harrison Murray's description of a trip to the Adirondacks abounds with claims of restoration: “Indeed, it is marvelous what benefit physically is often derived from a trip of a few weeks to these woods. To such as are afflicted with that dire parent of ills, dyspepsia, or have lurking in their system consumptive tendencies, I most earnestly recommend a month’s experience among the pines. The air which you there inhale is such as can be found only in high mountainous regions, pure rarefied, and bracing… This is no exaggeration, as some who will read these lines now.” The dedication of the newly formed Adirondack Park in 1892 consecrates the reputation of this recreational destination in the minds of wealthy East Coast patrons from New York, Hartford, Boston, and other major urban centers.



1890–1910
Railroad camps

The first organized tourist camps on a large scale are established in the American West by railroad operators for the benefit of visitors interested in exploring the new national parks. Located within easy access and developed as operating concessions, the camps function as bases for a range of light outdoor activities and guided day trips to the region. Sturdy wooden platforms support tents well-appointed with comfortable beds and other amenities. The wealthy guests remain entirely comfortable as they “rough it” in the wilderness.



1910–1920
Roadside camping

Horace Kephart’s exhortation to take to the wild, "to pull up stakes" and move elsewhere at one's whim is quickly embraced by early motorists, who reject the tyranny of organization and the artificial trappings of late nineteenth-century railroad tours of the American West: "You are your own master, the road is ahead; you eat as you please, cooking your own meals over an open fire; sleeping when you will under the stars, waking with the dawn; swim in a mountain lake when you will, and always the road ahead. Thoreau at 29 cents a gallon." Railroad tours may have been the province of the wealthy, but affordable automobiles like the Ford Model T open up recreational opportunities for the growing middle class: “In regard to expense, it is safe to say that anyone who can afford a car and vacation can likewise afford a motor camping trip.” Specially outfitted with a panoply of customizable features that allow for the easy transportation and deployment of gear and supplies, the automobile constitutes the utilitarian epicenter of the campsite, anticipating the self-sufficient modern RV.



1910–1920
"The Gasoline Rule of Motor Camping"

Motor tourists' lack of awareness and woodcraft experience can lead to a certain carelessness towards natural settings that adversely affects both wildlife and following campers. As the process of decamping at the sight of an angry farmer becomes as quick as folding-in a pop-out tent, campers easily overlook the none-too-subtle traces of their own presence. Common signs of previous encampment include unextinguished campfires, empty food cans, and human excrement. Reflecting the contemporary maxim that what is packed in should be packed out, F. Everett Brimmer's "Golden Rule—or the Gasoline Rule—of motor camping" is roundly ignored by most: "If there is any message … that I would sear with words deeply grooved into the plastic record of the brain so that it could never be forgotten, it would be this: Autocamp upon others as you would have others autocamp upon you".



1915–1920
Spatial enclosure: first campgrounds

For as much damage as campers do to their surroundings, nature repeatedly proves to be equally dangerous to unskilled tenters. Then as now, the prevailing perception of Nature is one of peace, comfort, and visual and emotional inspiration; early twentieth-century campers often mistakenly place their trust in quaint, scenic roadside tableaus, unsuspecting that, say, the sparkling water from a cold, clear stream might be polluted by a nearby town, or even other campers. James Belasco writes that by 1920 campers are exposed to diseases like typhoid that were no longer found in cities. Organized campgrounds originate as much from the need to protect unsuspecting tenters from such harm as from the need to spare nature from these very same individuals. By confining campers within a specified zone, these first campgrounds prevent visitors from occupying just any place they might otherwise gain access to. The availability of basic services (water, bathrooms, fire pits) means that individual camping parties no longer needed to carry as much equipment from one campsite to the next and ensure some basic standard of sanitation.



1915–1925
The campfire as social center

Early campgrounds remain informal in their general layout, but a rich social dynamic develops around large evening campfires. Campers come together for late night bull sessions, debating the merits of other camps and sharing stories of the open road. Here the social formality insisted upon at home just doesn’t exist: "Perhaps for the first time one realizes the common America—and loves it… It is the enforced democracy and the sense of common ownership in these parks that works this magic. They have rediscovered to us the American people. Elsewhere travelers divide among resorts and hotels according to the ability to pay, and maintain their home attitudes. In the national parks they are just Americans.”



1923–1926
Spatial enclosure and controls

The overwhelming popularity of camping across the country leads to a rapid degradation of national parks and municipal campgrounds, where not only tourists but also hundreds of out-of-work families and vagrants try to settle permanently. To counter these migrations, campground operators develop a range of practices of varying degrees of subtlety. Among the most enduring are time restrictions, pillow counts, admission fees, and registration procedures. A spectrum of physical barriers including fences and moats now serve a dual purpose of keeping the campers out of harm and keeping undesirables out.



1925–1930
Managing individual campsites

Looking back on Yosemite’s early campgrounds, Stanford Demars observed that “it was commonly joked—and not without some truth—that the first camper to drive his automobile out of the campground on a holiday morning was likely to dismantle half of the campground in the process due to the common practice of securing tent lines to the handiest object available—including automobile bumpers.” The concept of individually allotted sites originates with large facilities such as Denver’s Overland Park (1917–1930). Spanning 160 acres along the Platte River, the campground built a national following by offering a range of attractions that becomes the envy of municipal campgrounds nationwide. Its reputation as the “Manhattan of auto camps” owes to its grid of 800 individual lots that collectively can accommodate up to 6,000 autocampers each night. The campground is no longer an amorphous gathering of vehicles, tents and cables; rather, this arrangement involves a high degree of spatial organization and sophisticated systems to collect fees, track camping parties, and monitor the length of stays.



1928–1932
Emilio Meinecke: the parking spur

Expressing concern about the steady degradation of ecologically sensitive areas in national parks, plant pathologist Emilio Meinecke is the first to codify the potentially destructive role of the automobile: “Man injures only those smaller plants he actually tramples under foot. The car, much clumsier to handle, crushes shrubs and sideswipes trees, tracing off living bark and severely injuring them. Oil, a deadly poison to plants, drips from the parked automobile.” Meinecke's enduring contribution to campground design is to expand the organizational system of the campground to integrate vehicular traffic. He proposes one-way loop roads that lead automobiles to individual parking spurs next to each campsite. In this light, the plot is as much about accommodating the automobile in the landscape as it is about establishing a territory for the camper.



1935–present
Trailers and RVs

The emergence of heavier, more sophisticated trailers requires a yet-more-generous re-engineering of Meinecke's pull-off spur and the integration of various infrastructural hookups (electrical and sewage, among others). This leads to the progressive segregation of RVs, as they are increasingly confined to their own loop within the campgrounds. Trailers and RVs are so popular in the 1930s that there are no less than 400 individual companies (Kozy Coach, Rollohome, Silver Streak) manufacturing trailers and motorhomes across the country. Only a few of these early pioneers (Airstream, Fleetwood) remain in existence today.



1970–present
Advance reservations

As the social conventions surrounding the campfire die away, campers increasingly turn to campground operators for knowledge of the road ahead. Like the hotel chains it emulates, Kampground of America (KOA) is among the first to take advantage of this new demand with a toll-free advance reservation phone number, mass mailings of its campground directory, and the option to use one’s credit card to hold a space in advance of arrival. By the 1980s third-party entities like ReserveAmerica seek to appropriate this virtual-access model by matching campers to campgrounds through a sophisticated phone reservation system and later a web-based service. Online information duplicates and enhances knowledge once available only on the ground, at the site: campground maps, detailed specs, and photographs of individual campsites are available for thousands of private and public facilities, often from the same website. To ensure fair access, some national park campgrounds now accept online reservations up to six months in advance. For the avid practitioner, camping has thus become a year-round activity, alternating in two seasons between the real and the virtual, on the ground and in the imagination.


It is an inspiring sight to go into […] Denver and see several hundred cars parked in their allotted spaces and their happy owners, many of them with large families, enjoying the camp life or recreational facilities of their surroundings.

— Horace Albright, second director of the National Park Service

By leaving behind the city and its modern comforts, the first casual visitors to the Yosemite National Park and the Adirondacks of New York State could achieve what they felt was a greater degree of receptiveness to the poetic wonders of the natural world. For many this fundamental displacement—from the city to nature, from indoors to outdoors, from modern to rustic—still forms the basis of a defining experience in the American character. However, the inauguration of a Kampgrounds of America (KOA) franchise on the Las Vegas strip in 2004 and the transformation overnight of thousands of Walmart parking lots into an informal network of RV campgrounds suggests there is still space to rethink the role of place and setting in contemporary camping.

This recent wave of campground urbanization is not limited to major commercial operators like KOA and Walmart, nor is it the first such period historically. Throughout the automobile era the city has oscillated between repelling and seductive to campers. During the 1920s hundreds of municipalities managed public campgrounds, seeking a foothold in the burgeoning motor tourism economy. The popularity of Denver's Overland Park as one of the great autocamps of the 1920s was not due merely to its gargantuan size (800 lots which could accommodate up to 6,000 autocampers nightly), its advantageous location a few miles from the Colorado State Capitol on Colfax Street, but also to the modern range of conveniences it offered, which far exceeded what could be found at other campgrounds of the time. Built next to an important local automobile racetrack, the campground also functioned as a de facto meeting place for both out-of-towners and locals. Likewise, KOA has since the 1960s built its reputation by emphasizing a surprisingly broad range of modern comforts and strategically favoring ease of access at major interstate exits. Even the National Park Service recently joined the fray of urban camping, inaugurating Camp Tamarack on a former military airport base in New York City’s Gateway National Recreation Area, a few minutes from the nearest Brooklyn subway stop. On a recent visit there, an attendant marveled that some visitors bearing only suitcases show up straight from John F. Kennedy International Airport, right across Jamaica Bay from the campground.

In an age of rapid technological improvements, physical distance no longer translates into virtual remoteness: equipped with pervasive technology like laptops, wireless internet and smartphones, campers in the national parks are never more than a few clicks away from the “outside world,” conversing with friends, shopping, blogging, or tweeting just as easily here as from the home or office. Campers have indeed come very far from the letters mailed to and from the first post office in the Yosemite valley (1869), illustrated postcards, and the occasional payphone call. Consumer electronics blur the boundary between the domicile and the poetic sense of unmooring that comes with truly ‘being away’. This shifting geography and emergent modes of proximity beg the question: just how foreign, seductive, or mysterious is the realm of the campsite from the private domicile left behind?



1830–1860
Leaving the city

A classic tale of a mid-nineteenth-century Parisian family traveling to the country for an afternoon picnic, filmmaker Jean Renoir's A Day in the Country (1936) summarizes the romantic appeal that lies beyond the city. The natural setting is mysterious and romantic but also potentially dangerous: for Madame Dufour and her daughter, seductive encounters lurk at every turn, while Monsieur Dufour and his prospective son-in-law lack awareness and are easily duped by cunning locals. These two sets of characters embody the romance and pitfalls encountered by campers and day trippers of the time.



1850–1865
Exploratory expeditions

Artists like the photographer Carleton Watkins and painter Albert Bierstadt join early expeditions to the American West. Bierstadt first sketches out Cho-Looke, the Yosemite Fall (1864) during an 1863 expedition to the Yosemite valley. The completion of the painting in his New York studio in 1864 coincides with the signing by Abraham Lincoln of the Yosemite Grant park bill, which sets aside the area for preservation and public use and cements its reputation in the popular imagination as a national landmark.



1880–1910
Getting the word out

The sublime character of Bierstadt's scenes plays an important role in popularizing Yosemite, Yellowstone and other national parks as tourist destinations. Newspaper accounts also satisfy a growing popular demand for on-the-ground information. Commissioned by the Salem Observer (Massachusetts) in 1882 as a series of letters describing her visit, and later released in book form, Mary Bradshaw Richards' Camping Out in the Yellowstone (1910) constitutes one of the first significant personal accounts of a camping trip published in the United States. Bierstadt, Bradshaw, and others play an important role in promoting these regions of the American West to an affluent, East Coast audience, sanctioning camping as a popular recreational practice as well.



1915–1920
National Park campgrounds

The very expression campground seems inherently paradoxical, with camp evoking an informal and temporary approach to site-making, and ground suggesting a formally dedicated territory. Thus the term suggests dueling agencies, private and collective, seductive and restricting, enabling and protective all at once. As this packed scene in Mount Rainier's Paradise Valley campground in 1915 makes clear, the first public campgrounds in the United States are nothing more than large, dedicated clearings, free of trees, within which to concentrate large groups of motoring tourists, and sparsely furnished with utilities.



1920–1930
Municipal campgrounds

Cities and towns along major new national roadways like the Lincoln Highway seek to benefit financially from the daily passage of westward-bound motor tourists by selling them gas, food, and other goods. John Cuthbert and John Dietrichjoint Long estimate in their 1922 book Motor Camping that there are no less than 2,000 such facilities across the country. Municipal campgrounds are generally located within city limits and feature a basic range of services such as water, electricity, showers, bathrooms, and cooking facilities, often for a small fee. Forty years later, Kampgrounds of America will revive the idea of the municipal campground with a network of commercially-driven franchises conveniently located at the suburban periphery and interstate exits.



1930–1940
State Park campgrounds

In a single national growth spurt during the Great Depression, networks of state parks all over the country emerge almost simultaneously. Aided by federal agencies like the Civilian Conservation Corps, sites of significant regional interest are being systematically developed, often in locations far closer to major urban centers than are most national parklands. With beaches, campgrounds, and other amenities, this growing network of public parks widely broadens access to outdoor recreation. Now the motor tourist who cannot not spare the time and expense for the long journey out West to the national parks is rewarded for a shorter, local or regional trip.



1950–1970
State Parks and urbanization

The decades following the Second World War see a rapid expansion of cities across the country. State parks that had been located within safe distance from the city only a few decades earlier are now being absorbed as part of the expanding suburban fabric.



1960–1980
KOA: the interstate campground

The development of KOA into the first national, privately owned chain of campgrounds is anything but premeditated. In 1962 founder Dave Drum acquires the property on which the first franchise briefly stands at Orchard Lane near Riverfront Park in Billings, Montana, intending the purchase as a land-banking strategy in anticipation of the development of Interstate 90. A campground seems like an inexpensive way to generate funds in anticipation of a time in the near future when he can sell the property or develop it more comprehensively. Drum is known to roam the grounds at night, quizzing campers about their level of satisfaction and discussing features they would like to see added. Convinced by the growing popularity of camping and the enthusiasm of his guests, Drum promotes this vision of an easily accessible campground featuring a neatly packaged set of services akin to those offered by others in the hospitality industry. KOA's growth is explosive, expanding from a single campground in 1962 to 829 nationwide by 1979. By the mid-1960s it has already surpassed the National Park Service in the number of individual campsites.



2000–present
Walmart: the parking lot as campground

Walmart’s 2001 decision to permit RVs to park for the night in its parking lots, free of charge, creates a network of thousands of new campground facilities more or less overnight. The announcement suggests a financial interest similar to those of municipal campgrounds in the 1920s. Says one Walmart spokesperson: "We treat them as shoppers who take a long time to make up their minds."



2000–present
Virtual proximity

The internet is altering the experience of camping. Wireless access is becoming standard at many campgrounds, and campers can now update blogs and send and receive email from their tent in the wilderness. An expanding network of towers make cell phone communication possible nearly anywhere: even in remote areas of the American West, the camper can link up to the outside world, taking us yet further away from the old idealization of the nature campground as wild place.


Most popular words used in naming campgrounds
(number of times each word appears in a list of 20,000 campgrounds)


Lake (2921)
River (611)
Forest (483)
Spring / Springs (361)
Beach (297)
Point (273)
Mountain (234)
Valley (222)
Rock (209)
Canyon (202)
North (192)
Reservoir (191)
Big (188)
Island (172)
Fort (169)
South (168)
Cove (162)
Landing (161)
West (159)
Falls (157)
Ridge (142)
Hill (140)
Village (140)
Pine (137)
Little (131)
Lakes (130)
Marina (127)
Bend (125)
Grove (123)
Memorial (121)
East (120)
Acres (114)
Bridge (112)
Oak (109)
Pond (106)
Fork (106)
Twin (103)
View (103)
Dam (101)
Pines (99)
Indian (96)
Bear (95)
Blue (88)
Ranch (87)
Red (85)
White (85)
Hollow (83)
Country (82)
Beaver (81)
Hills (81)
Cedar (80)

Information compiled by Liz Grades


Kampgrounds of America founder Dave Drum believed in offering the camper literally everything he wanted, often to the point of shameless excess. The time line at top provides a framework for understanding just when these groundbreaking advances in the field (air conditioning at individual campsites, food concessions, cable TV, credit card reservations, dog walks) were introduced nationally.

In many ways, KOA’s appeal lay not only in promoting a broad range of services, but in homogenizing the camping experience and smoothing out the endearing kinks that make each campsite and experience unique. The campsite is no longer a prized destination — Meinecke’s end of the road — but rather a brief pause on the way someplace else. To the camper, KOA’s exclusive annual directory perpetuated the image of its campgrounds as a self-sufficient system of facilities and promised that the quality of the camping experience would be reassuring familiar: “Travel free from worry about where you will stay each night.” With this information at their disposal, campers could now plan their next stop and even call in a reservation to ensure availability. Why look elsewhere?

A close look at a series of yearly directory descriptions for a single campground in Cody, Wyoming – KOA’s first and longest running franchise –, reveals shifting styles and priorities. The company’s telegraphic descriptions underscore its standardization, the consistency of utilities (HMQ) and ease of access from interstates and other major roadways (From S on WY 120 turn R at jct 3/4 mi E.).

1964
CODY

Open 1964 (June)
$2.00 per car up for four persons
25 cents for each additional person
53 miles from east entrance of Yellowstone National Park.
3 miles east of Cody on U.S. Hwys. 14 and 20.
Horseback riding, and at no extra cost, a beautiful view of our country.
Owners: Kampergrounds Inc. M.C. Calkins, Pres., and E.J. Goppert, Jr., Secty.

1965
Cody

My 15-Labor Day
$2.50 per car
2 miles east of Cody, Hwy. 14 & 20. 53 miles from east entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Horseback riding, and at no etra cost, a beautiful view of our country.
Owners: Cody's Kampergrounds. Mr. and Mrs. Jack Cash and Mr. and Mrs. Donald Petrie.

1966
Cody

June 1- Labor Day
$2.50 per car for three or more
2 miles east of Cody, Hwy. 14 & 20. 53 miles from east entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Horseback riding. Home of Cody Night Rodeo–held nightly, except Sunday, thru July and August. Cody Stampede–July 4. World famous Whitney Gallery of Western Art & Buffalo Bill Museum. Grigware Murals of Mormon Migration. Plan your vacation so you'll have time to enjoy our country.
Owners: Cody's Kampergrounds, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Cash and Mr. and Mrs. Donald Petrie.


1967
CODY

JUNE 1 - LABOR DAY
$2.50 per car for three or more. 2 miles east of Cody, Hwy. 15 and 20. 53 miles from east entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Horseback riding. Home of Cody Night Rodeo. Cody Stampede–July 4. World famous Whitney Gallery of Western Art and Buffalo Bill Museum. Grigware Murals of Mormon Migration. Plan to enjoy our country. OWNERS: Cody's Kampergrounds, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Cash and Mr. and Mrs. Donald Petrie.

1968
CODY
JUNE 1 - LABOR DAY

$2.50 per car. $2.75 with electric hook-up, $3.00 per car for electricity, water & sewer. 2 miles east of Cody, Hwy. 14 and 20. 53 miles from east entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Horseback riding. Home of Cody Night Rodeo. Cody Stampede¬–July 4. World famous Whitney Gallery of Western Art and Buffalo Bill Museum. Grigware Murals of Mormon Migration. Plan to enjoy our country. OWNERS: Cody's Kampergrounds, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Cash and Mr. and Mrs. Donal Petrie.

1969
CODY

JUNE 1 - LABOR DAY
$2.50 per car. $2.75 with electric hook-up. $3.00 per car for electricity, water and sewer. 2 miles east of Cody, Hwy. 14 and 20. 53 miles from east entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Horseback riding. Home of World famous Cody Night Rodeo. Cody Stampede–July 4. World famous Whitney Gallery of Western Art and Buffalo Bill Museum. Grigware Murals of Mormon Migration. Plan to enjoy our country. Owners: Cody's Kampergrounds, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Cash.


1970
CODY

JUNE 1 - LABOR DAY
$2.5o per night per car, $2.75 with electrical hookup. $3.00 per car for electricity, water and sewer. 53 miles from east entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Horseback riding, walk-up restaurant, home of Cody Night Rodeo. Cody Stampede, world famous Whitney Gallery of Western Art and Buffalo Bill Museum. Grigware Murals of Mormon Migration. Cody's Kampergrounds, 2513 Beartooth Drive, Cody, Wyoming, 82414. (307) 587-2369.


1971
CODY

June 1 - Labor Day
$3.00 per night per camping unit, $3.50 with electric hookup, $4.00 with water, sewer and electricity. 53 miles from east entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Horseback riding, walkup restaurant, home of the Cody Night Rodeo. Cody Stampede, world famous Whitney Gallery of Western Art and Buffalo Bill Museum. Grigware Murals of Mormon Migration. Cody's Kampergrounds, 2513 Beartooth Drive, Coy, Wyoing, 82414. (307) 587-2369.

1972
CODY

JUNE 1 - LABOR DAY
$3.00 per night per camping unit, $3.50 with elec. hookup, $4.00 with water, sewer & elec. 53 miles form east entrance of Yellowstone National Park. horseback riding, walkup restaurant, home of the Cody Night Rodeo. Cody Stampede, world famous Whitney Gallery of Western Art & Buffalo BIll Museum. Grigware Murals of Mormon Migration. Cody's Kampergrounds, 2513 Beartooth Drive, Cody, Wy. 82414. (307) 587-2369.

1973
CODY

MAY 1 - SEPT. 30
$3.00 per night per camping unit for 2 people–25¢ each over. $3.50 with elec. hookup, $.400 with water, sewer & elec. 53 miles from east entrance of Yellowstone National Park. 2 miles east of Cody on U.S. Hwys. 14-16-20. Horseback riding, home of Cody Night Rodeo. Cody Stampede, world famous Whitney Gallery of Western Art & Buffalo BIll Museum. Grigware Murals of Mormon Migration. Cody's Kampgrounds, Box 898, Cody, Wy. 82414. (307) 587-2369.

1974
CODY

MAY 1 - OCT 1
All grass sites with beautiful view of mountains, only 7 mi, to excellent trout fishing & water skiing, min to Buffalo Bill Historical Center & Old Trail Town. Horseback riding, rec rm, prop & yd lites, close to RCA approved nite rodeo & famous Cody Stampede. 2½ E of Cody on Hwys 14, 16, 20. From S on WY 120 turn R at jct ¾ mi E.
Rates: $3.50 per night for 2, 25¢ ea add'l person. Elec, water, sewer or A/C 50 cents ea.
Hosts: Glady & Ken Dunn, Mary & Dud Rankin. Cody KOa, Box 1764, Cody, WY 82414. (307) 587-2369


1975
CODY

MAY 1 - OCT 1
2½ E of Cody on Hwys 14, 16, 20. From S on WY 120 turn R at jct ¾ mi E. All grass sites with beautiful view of mountains, only 7 mi to excellent trout fishing & watrr skiing, min to famous Buffalo Bill Historical Center & Old Trail Town. Horseback riding, rec rm, prop & yd lites, close to RCA approved nite rodeo & famous Cody stampede.
Rates: $4 per nite for 2. 50¢ for ea add'l person 3 yrs & over. Elec, wtr, swr, or A/C 50¢ ea.
Cody KOA, Box 1765, Cody, WY 82414. Hosts: Gladys & Ken Dunn, Mary & Dud Rankin. (307) 587-2369

1976
CODY

MAY 1 - OCT 1
1st KOA Kampground, loc 2½ E of Cody. Approaching from S on WY 120, turn rt at jct 14-16-20 & go ¾ mi E. Grass sites surrounded by beautiful mts. Excl trout fishing & water skiing closeby. Mins to famous Buffalo Bill Historical Cntr, RCA Night Rodeo & Cody Stampede, Old Trail Town & Melodramas. Horseback riding, plgrd, game mach, well lighted camp.
Rates: $4.50 per nite for 2. 75¢ for ea add'l person 3yrs & over. Elec 75¢. Wtr & elec $1.25. Full hkupd $1.75. A/C or elec ht 75¢.
Cody KOA, RR 1, Bo 1420, Cody, WY 82414. Hosts: Gladys & Kenn Dunn. Mary & Dud Rankin. (307) 587-2369

1977
CODY

MAY 1 - SEP 30
1st KOA Kampground. Loc 2½ E of Cody on Hwy 14-20. If approaching from S on WY 120, turn R at jct 14-16-20 & 20 go ¾ mi E. Grass sites. Beautiful mt view. Good fishing & wtr skng nrby. Mins to famous Buffalo Bill Historical Ctr, nite rodeo, Cody Stampede, Old Trail Town & float trips. Horseback riding, plgrd, game machines on campground. Well lighted camp. HMQ
Rates: $5 per nite for 2. 50¢ for ea add'l person 3yrs & over. 50¢ elec, $1 wtr & elec, $1.50 full hkups. 75¢ A/C or elec htr.
Cody KOA, RR No. 1, Box 1420, Cody, WY 82414. Hosts: Ken & glady Dunn; Dud & Mary Rankin. (307) 587-2369


1978
CODY

MAY 1 - OCT 1
1st KOA Kampground. Loc 2½ E of Cody on Hwy 14-20. If approaching from S on WY 120, turn R at Jct 14-16-20 & 20 go ¾ mi E. Grass sites, beutiful mt view. Good fishing & wtr skng nrby. Mins to famous Buffalo Bill Historical Cntr, nite rodeo, Cody Stampede, Old Trail Town & float trips. Horseback riding, plgrnd, game machines. HMQ
Rates: $5.50 per nite for 2. 75¢ ea add'l person 3 yrs & over. 50¢ swr, wtr, $1 elec, $1 A/C or elec htr.
Cody Kampground, Rt 1, Box 1420, Cody, WY 82414. Hosts: Jim & Barbara Tracy.


1979
CODY

MAY 1 - OCT 15
1st KOA Kampground. Loc 2½ E of Cody on Hwy 14-20. If approaching from S on WY 120, turn R at Jct 14-16-20 & 20 go ¾ mi E. Grass sites, beautiful mt view. Good fishing & wtr skng nrby. Mins to famous Buffalo Bill Historical Cntr, nite rodeo, Cody Stampede, Old Trail Town & float trips. Horseback riding, plgrd, game machines. HMQ
Rates: $6.25 per nite for 2. $1 ea add'l person 3 yrs & over. 50¢ swr, wtr, $1 elec, $1 A/C or elec htr.
Cody KOA Kampground, Rt 1, Box 1420, Cody, WY 82414. Hosts: Jim & Barbara Tracy.

1980
CODY

MAY 1 - OCT 1
1st KOA Kampground. Loc 2½ E of Cody on Hwy 14-20. If approaching from S on WY 120, turn R at Jct 14-16-20 & 20 go ¾ mi E. Grass sites, beautiful mt view. Good fishing & wtr skng nrby. Mins to famous Buffalo BIll Historical Cntr, nite rodeo, Cody Stampede, Old Trail Town & float trips. Horseback riding, plgrd, game machines. HMQ
Rates: $6.75 per nite for 2. $1 ea add'l per 3 yrs & over. 50¢ wtr, 50¢ swr, $1 elec, $1 A/C or htr.
Cody KOA Kampground, Rt 1, Box 1420, Cody, WY 82414. Hosts: Jim & Barbara Tracy.

1981
CODY

MAY 1 - SEP 31
1st KOA Kampground. Loc 2½ E of Cody on Hwy 14-20. If approaching from S on WY 120, turn R at Jct 14-16-20 & 20 go ¾ mi E. Grass sites, beautiful mt view. Good fishing & wtr skng nrby. Mins to famous Buffalo BIll Historical Cntr, nite rodeo, Cody Stampede, Old Trail Town & float trips. Pony rides, Plgrd, game machines. HMQ
Rates: $8.25 / for 2. $1.50 ea add'l person 3 yrs & over. 50¢ wtr, $1 swr, $1.50, elec, $1.50 A/C or htr.
Cody KOA Kampground, Rt 1, Box 1420, Cody, WY 82414.

1982
CODY

MAY 1 - SEP 30
Just 2½ mi East of Cody on Hwys 14,16,20. Htd pool, grassy sites, gamr rm, souvenirs, metered propane, gas, horse & pony rides, plgrd. Good fishing, hunting, hiking, wtr skiing, golf & rock hounding nrby. Min to: famous Buffalo Bill cntr, Old Trail Town, Cody Mural, float trips, old-time Melodrama, Cody Nite Rodeo, Cody Stampede July 4th wknd. Art galleries & beautiful scenic drives.
Rates: $10 for 2. $2 ea add'l person. $3 wtr & elec. $4 full hkups. $2 A/C or htr.
Cody KOA, 5561 Greybull Hwy, Cody, WY 82414.

1983
CODY

MAY 1 - SEP 30 (307) 587-2369
Just 2½ mi East of Cody on Hwys 14, 16, 20. Htd pool, grassy sites, gamr rm, souvenirs, metered propane gas, horse & pony rides, plgrd. Good fishing, hunting, hiking, wtr skiing, golf & rock hounding nrby. Min to: famous Buffalo Bill Hist Cntr, Old Trail Town, Cody Mural, float trips, old time Melodrama, Cody Nite Rodeo, Cody Stampede Jul 4t hwknd. Art galleries & beautiful scenic drives.
Rates: $9.50 for 2. $1.50 ea add'l person. $4 wtr & elec. $4 full hkupd, $2 A/c or htr.
Cody KOA, 5561 Greybull Hwy, Cody, WY 82414.

1984
CODY

MAY 1 - SEP 30 (307) 587-2369
Just 2 1/2 mi East of Cody on Hwys 14, 16, 20. Htd pool, grassy sites, game rm, souvenirs, metered propane gas, horse & pony rides, plgrd. Good fishing, hunting, hiking, wtr skiing, golf & rock hounding nrby. Min to: famous Buffalo Bill Hist Cntr, Old Trail Town, Cody Mural, float trips, old time Melodrama, Cody Nite Rodeo, Cody Stampede, Jul 4th wknd. Art galleries & beautiful scenic drives.
Rates: $10 for 2. $2 ea add'l oerson. $3 wtr & elec. $4 full hkups. $2 A/C or htr.
Cody KOA, 5561 Greybull Hwy, Cody WY 82414.

1985
CODY

MAY 1 - SEP 30 (307) 587-2369
Just 2 1/2 mi East of Cody on Hwys 14, 16, 20. Htd pool, grassy sites, game rm, souvenirs, metered propane, gas, horse & pony rides, plgrd. Good fishing, hunting, hiking, wtr skiing, gold & rock hndnd nrby. Min to: famous Buffalo Bill Hist Cntr, Old Trail Town, Cody Mural, float trips, old time Melodrama, Cody Nite Rodeo, Cody Stampede July 4th wknd. Art gallerie & beautiful scenic drives.
Rates: $10 for 2. $2 ea add'l person. $3 wtr & elec. $4 full hkups. $2 A/C or htr.
Cody KOA, 5561 Greybull Hwy, Cody, WY 82414.

1986
CODY
MAY 1 - SEP 30 (307) 587-2369
Just 2 1/2 mi East of Cody on Hwys 14, 16, 20. Htd pool, grassy sites, game rm, souvenirs, metered propane, gas, plgrd. Good fishing, hunting, hiking, wtr skiing, gold nrby. Min to: famous Buffalo Bill Hist Cntr, Old Trail Town, Cody Mural, float trips, old time Melodrama, Cody Nite Rodeo, Cody Stampede Jul 4th wknd. Art galleries & beautiful scenic drives.
Rates: $10 for 2. $2 ac add'l person. $3 wtr & elec. $4 full hkups. $2 A/C or htr.
Cody KOA, 5561 Greybull Hwy, Cody, WY 82414.

1987
CODY

MAY 1 - SEP 30 (307) 587-2369
Just 2 1/2 mi East of Cody on Hwys 14, 16, 20. Hts pool Memorial Day - Labor Day. Grassy sites. Fishing. Golf course close by. Buffalo Bill Historic Center. Old Trail Town, Cody Mural, Art Galleries, river float trips, beautiful scenic drives. Clost KOA to East entrance of Yellowstone Park.
Cody KOA, 5561 Greybull Hwy, Cody, WY 82414.


1988
CODY

MAY 1 - SEP 30 (307) 587-2369
Just 2 1/2 mi east of Cody on Hwys 14, 16, 20. America's first franchised KOA. Htd pool Mem Day to Lab Day. Grassy sites. Fshng. Golf course nrby. Buffalo Bill Historic Cntr. Old Trail Town, Cody Mural, Art Galleries, river float trips, beautiful scenic drives. Closest KOA to east entrance of Yellowstone Park, tours avail. Gift shop. KOA, 561 Greybull Hwy, Cody, WY 82414.

1989
CODY

MAY 1- SEP 30 (307)587-2369
Just 2 1/2 mi east of Cody on Hwys 14, 16, 20. America's first franchised KOA. Htd pool Mem Day to Lab Day. Grassy sites, Fhng. Golf course nrby. Buffalo Bill Historic Cntr. Old Trail Town, Cody Mural, Art Galleries, river float trips, beautiful scenic drives. Closest KOA to east entrance of Yellowstone Park, tours avai. Gift shop. KOA, 5561 Greybull Hwy, Cody, WY 82414.

1990
CODY

MAY 1 - SEP 30 (307) 587-2369
East city limits of Cody on Hwys 14, 16, 20. America's first franchised KOA. Htd pool 5/30-9.1. Grassy sites. Fshng. Gold course nrby. Buffalo Bill Historic Cntr. Old Trail Town, Art Galleries, river float trips, scenic drives. Yellowstone Pk tours avail. Gift shop. Free video movies. Cody Nite Rodeo. Off seas rates May and Sept. Saddle horse res. KOA, 5561 Greybull Hwy, Cody, WY 82414.

1991
CODY

MAY 1 - SEP 30 (307)587-2369
East city limits of Cody on Hwys 14, 16, 20. America's first franchised KOA. Htd pool 5/30-9/1. Grassy sites. Fshng. Golf course nrby. Buffalo Bill Historic Cntr. Old Trail Town, Art Galleries, river float trips, scenic drives. Yellowstone Pk tours avail. Gift shop. Free video movies. Cody nite Rodeo. Off seas rates May and Sept. Saddle horse res. KOA, 5561 Greybull Hwy, Cody, WY 82414.

1992
CODY

MAY 1 - SEP 1 (307) 587-2369
East city limits of Cody on Hwys 14, 16, 20. America's first franchised KOA. Htd pool 5/30-9/1. Grassy sites. Fshng. Golf course nrby. Buffalo Bill Historic Cntr. Old Trail Town, Art Galleries, river float trips, scenic drives. Yellowstone Pk tours avail. Gift shop. Cody nite Rodeo. Off seas rates May and Sept. Saddle horse res. KOA, 5561 Greybull Hwy, Cody, WY 82414.

1993
CODY

MAY 1 - SEP 1
(307) 587-2369
East city limits of Cody on Hwys 14, 16, 20. America's first franchised KOA. Htd pool 5/30-9/1. Grassy sites. Fshng. Golf course nrby. Buffalo Bill Historic Cntr. Old Trail Town, Art Galleries, river float trips, scenic drives. Yellowstone Pk tours avail. Gift shop. Off seas rates May and Sept. Saddle horse res. KOA, 5561 Greybull Hwy, Cody, WY 82414.


1994
CODY

MAY 1 - SEP 1
(307) 587-2369
East city limits of Cody on Hwys 14, 16, 20. America's first franchised KOA. Htd pool 5/30-9/1. Grassy sites. Fshng. Golf course nrby. Buffalo Bill Historic Cntr. Old Trail Town, Art Galleries, river float trips, scenic drives. Yellowstone Pk tours avail. Gift shop. Off seas rates May and Sept. Saddle horse res. KOA, 5561 Greybull Hwy, Cody, WY 82414.

1995
CODY

MAY 1 - OCT 1 (307) 587-2369 RES (800)932-5267
East city limits of Cody on Hwys 16/14/20. Plan to spend 2 full days. Visit Buffalo BIll Museum (must see), float the Shoshone River, see art galleries, Old Trail Town and nightly rodeo. GOlf and fish. Then drive or take a tour to Yellowstone (52 mi) in the morning. At KOA enjoy pool, horses, free rodeo shuttle, free pancakes for breakfast, shade or a view of the peaks. KOA, 5561 Greybull Hwy, Cody, WY 82414.

1996
CODY

MAY 1 - OCT 1 INFO (307)587-2369 RES (800)KOA-8507
East city limits of Cody on Hwys 16/14/20. Plan to spend 2 full days. Visit Buffalo Bill Museum (must see), float the Shoshone River, see art galleries, Old Trail Town and nightly rodeo. Golf and fish. then drive or take a tour of Yellowstone (52 mi) in the morning. At KOA enjoy pool, horses, free rodeo shuttle, free pancakes for breakfast, shade or a view of the peaks. KOA, 5561 Greybull Hwy, Cody, WY 82414.

1997
CODY

MAY 1 - OCT 1 INFO (307)587-2369. RES KOA-8507
East city limits of Cody on Hwys 16/14/20. Plan to spend 2 full days. Visit Buffalo Bill Museum (must see), float the Shoshone River, see art galleries, Old Trail Town and nightly rodeo. Golf and fish. Then drive or take a tour to Yellowstone (52 mi) in the morning. At KOA enjoy pool, horses, free rodeo shuttle, free pancakes for breakfast, shade or a view of the peaks. KOA, 5561 Greybull Hwy, Cody, WY 82414.


1998
CODY

MAY 1 - OCT 1 INFO (307)587-2369. RES KOA-8507
East city limits of Cody on Hwys 16/14/20. Plan to spend 2 full days. Visit Buffalo Bill Museum - a must see! Float the Shoshone River, see art galleries, Old Trail Town, nightly rodeo and the chuckwagon supper. Then drive or take a tour to Yellowstone National Park, only 52 miles. At KOA enjoy pool, horses, free rodeo shuttle, free pancakes for breakfast, shade or a view of the peaks. KOA, 5561 Greybull Hwy, Cody, WY 82414.


1999
CODY

MAY 1 - OCT 1 INFO (307)587-2369. RES KOA-8507
East city limits of Cody on Hwys 16/14/20. Plan to spend 2 full days. Visit Buffalo Bill Museum - a must see! Float the Shoshone River, see art galleries, Old Trail Town, nightly rodeo and the chuckwagon supper. Then drive or take a tour to Yellowstone National Park, only 52 miles. At KOA enjoy pool, horses, free rodeo shuttle, free pancakes for breakfast, shade or a view of the peaks. KOA, 5561 Greybull Hwy, Cody, WY 82414.

2000
CODY

MAY 1 - OCT 1 INFO (307) 587-2369
RES (800) KOA-8507
Pland to spend 2 full days. Visit Buffalo Bill Museum - a must see! Float the Shoshone River, see art galleries, Old Trail Town, and the famous Cody night rodeo. Then drive or take a tour of Yellowstone National Park, only 52 miles. At KOA enjoy pool, horses, free rodeo shuttle, free pancakes for breakfast, shade or a view of the peaks. KOA, 5561 Greybull Hwy, WY 82414.

2001
CODY

MAY 1 - OCT 1 INFO (307) 587-2369
RED (800) 562-8507
Plan to spend 2 full days. Visit Buffalo Bill Museum - a must see! Float the Shoshone River, see art galleries, Old Trail Town, and the famous Cody night rodeo. then drive or take a tour of Yellowstone National Park, only 52 miles. At KOA enjoy pool, horses, free rodeo shuttle, free pancakes for breakfast, shade or a view of the peaks. KOA, 5561 Greybull Hwy, Cody, WY 82414.
KOA: GOLD
W: 4/4; TL: 7.5/9/5/6

2002
CODY PAST FRANCHISEE OF THE YEAR

MAY 1 - OCT 1 INFO (307) 587-2369
RES (800) 562-8507
On US 20. Gateway to Yellowstone adventure. Leave rig at camp & enjoy majectic mountain vistas, abundant wildlife, back cntry hiking, world-class fishing, old west legendes & pure mountain air. Guided tours. Make a splash in new pool complex. Free rodeo shuttle. Free panackes, new playground, game room. trail rides at camp. Planned itineraries & special events. Rally & reunion pkgs. KOA, 5561 Greybull Hwy, Cody, WY 82414. codykoa@aol.com
KOA: gold
W: 4/4; TL: 7.5/9.5*/6

2003
CODY PART KOA KAMPGROUND OF THE YEAR

MAY 1 - OCT 1 INFO (307) 562-8507
RES (800) 562-8507
On US 14/16/20. Gateway to Yellowstone adventure. Leave rig at camp & enjoy makestic mtn vistas, abundant wildlife, back cntry hiking, world-class fishing, old west legends & pure mtn air. Guided tours. Make a splash in pool complex. Free rodeo shuttle. Free pancakes. Plagrnd & gamr room. trai lrides at camp. Planned itineraries & special events. Rally & reunion pkgs. KOA, 5561 Greybull Hwy, Cody, WY 82414. codykoa@aol.com

2004
CODY

MAY 1 - OCT 1 INFO (307)587-2369 PART KOA KAMPGROUND OF THE YEAR
RES (800) 562-8507 On US 14/16/20. Gateway to Yellowstone adventure & old west legends. Real cowboys. Real rodeos. real fun! Buffalo Bill Historical Center. Art galleries & specialty shops. Guided tours. New heated pool, wading pool & hot tub. Free rodeo shuttle. Free pancakes. trail rides to camp. Bike & surrey rentals. Rally & reunions packages. KOA, 5561 Greybull Hwy, Cody, WY 82414.
codykoa@aol.com; www.codykoa.com

2005
CODY

5561 Greybull Highway, Cody, WY 82414
MAY 1- OCTOBER 1
codykoa@aol.com
RESERVATION (800) 562-8507 INFO (307) 587-2369
A mountain view comes with your cmapsite on a grassy meadow just east of this frontier town founded by showman and Wild West icon Buffalo Bill. The Buffalo Bill Historical Center houses five museums featuring art, Native American artifacts and wxhibits chronicling the man. Your KOA hosts will make it easy to visit other are attractions too. A shuttle runs to the Cody Nite Rodeo every summer evening, and they'll arrange bus tours for Yellowstone National Park, just an hour away. On your own, fly-fish the Shoshone River and tour the Chief joseph Scenic Highway, climbing high int othe Rockies.
Or stick around the campground to swim or soak in the hot tub while the little ones splash in a wading pool. REgular events include Thursday bingo, Friday Karaoke and Saturday S'mores.
RV Site: $26-$59. Tent Site: $26-$31. Kabin: $46-$63. Kottage/Lodge: $117-$140.
On US 14-16-20 3 miles east of Cody.
Past KOA Kampground of the year.


2006
Yellowstone National Park
CODY

5561 Greybull Highway, Cody, WY 82414
MAY 1- OCTOBER 1
www.codykoa.com
RESERVATION (800) 562-8507 INFO (307) 587-8214
A moutain view comes with your campsite on a grassy meadow east of this frontier town founded by showman and Wild West incon Buffalo Bill. The Buffalo Bill Historical Center houses five museums featuring art, Native American artifacts and exhibits chroniclng the man. Your KOA hosts make it easy to visit other area attractions. A shuttle runs to the Cody Nite Rodeo every summer evening, and they'll arrange bus tours for Yelllowstone National Park, and hour away. The KOA is a city trolley stop. On your own, fly-fish the Shoshone River and tour the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway, climbing high into the Rockies. Or stick around the campground to swim in the full-size pool or soak in the hot tub while th little ones splash in a separate wading pool. REgular events include Thursday bingo, Friday karaoke, and Saturday s'mores.
RV Site: $26-$59.
Tent Site: $26-$31
Kabin: $46-$65
Kottage/Lodge: $117-$145

2007
CODY

5561 Greybull Highway, Cody, WY 82414
May 1 - October 1
RESERVATIONS (800) 562-8507 INFO (307)
codykoa@aol.com587-2369
A mountain view comes with your campsite on a grassy meadow east of this frontier town founded by showman and Wild West icon Buffalo Bill. he Buffalo Bill Historical Center houses five museums featuring ar, Native American artifacts and exhibits chronicling the man, Your KOA hosts mae it easy to visit other area attractions. A shuttle runs to the Cody nite Rodeo every summer evening, and they'll arrange bus tours to Yellowstone National Park, an hour away. on your own, fly-fish the Shoshoine River and tour the Chief joseph Scenic Highway, climbing high into the Rockies. Or stick around the campground to swim in the full-size pool or soak in the hot tub while the little ones splash in a separate wading pool. Regular evenings events include Thursday bingo, Friday icea cream social and Saturday s'mores.
RV Site: $26-$65
Tent Site: $26-$32
Kabin: $46-$70
Kottage/Lodge: $117-$156
On US 14/16/20 3 miles east of Cody.

2008
Yellowstone National Park
Cody

5561 greybull Highway, Cody, WY 82414
May 1 - October 1
codykoa@aol.com
RESERVATIONS (800) 562-8507 INFO (307) 587-2369
A mountain view comes with your campsite on a grassy meadow east fo this frontier town founded by showman and Wild West icon Buffalo Bill. The Buffalo Bill Historical Center houses five museums featuring art, Native american artifacts and exhibits chronicling the man and the times. This KOA makes it easy to visit other area attractions. A shuttle runs to the Cody Nite Rodeo every summer evening, and bus tours of Yellowstone National Park, just and hour away, can be booked upon your arrival. On your own or with a guide, whitewater raft or fly-fish on the Shoshone River, and don't miss the spectacular views of the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway, climbing high into the Rockies. Leave some time to swim in the heated pool or soak in the hot tub while the little ones splash in a separate wading pool. Regular evening events include Thursday bingo, Firday ice cream social and Saturday s'mores.
On US 14/16/20 3 miles east of Cody.

2009
Yellowstone National Park Area
Cody

5561 Greybull Highway, Cody, WY 82414
May 1 - October 1
www.codykoa.com
RESERVATIONS (800) 562-8507 INFO (307) 587-2369
A mountain view comes with your campsite on a grassy meadow east of this frontier toen founded by showman and Wild West icon Buffalo Bill. The Buffalo Bill Historical Center houses five museums featuring art, Native American artifacts and exhibits chronicling the man and the times. This KOA makes it easy to visit other area attractions. A shuttle runs to the Cody Nite Rodeo every summer evening, and bus tours of Yellowstone National Park, just an hour away, can be booked upon your arrival. on your own or with a guide, whitewater raft of fly-fish on the Shoshone River, and don't miss the speactacular view of Chief Joseph Scenic Highway, climbing high into the Rockies. Leave some time to soak in the hot rub while the little ones splash in a separate wading pool. Regular evenign events include Thursday bingo, Friday ice cream social and Saturday s'mores.
On US 14/16/20 3 miels east of Cody.

2010
Yellowstone National Park Area
Cody

5561 Greybull Highway, Cody, WY 82414
www.codykoa.com
RESERVATIONS (800) 562-8507 INFO (307) 587-2369
A mountain view comes with your kampsite on a grassy meadow east of this frontier town foudned by showman an Wild West icon Buffalo Bill. the Buffalo Bill Historical Center house five museums featuring art, Native American artifacts and exhibits chronicling the man and the times. KOA makes it easy to visit attractions. A shuttle runs to the Cody Nite Rodeo every summer evening, and bus tours of Yellowstone National Park can be booked upon arrival. Fill up on free pancakes at KOA before heading out on yur own with a guide to whitewater raft or fly-fish on the Shoshone River. Don't miss spectacular views of Chief joseph Highway, climbing high into the Rockies. Swim in the heated pool or soak in the hot tub while little ones splash in a separate wading pool. The new Fun Zone includes a Jumping Pillow, playground, giant chess/checkers and fun-bike rentals. Fido will enjoy the Kamp K9 dog park. Stick around for evening events including Thursday bingo, Friday ice cream socials and Saturday s'mores. Free Wi-Fi!
On US 14/16/20 3 miels E of Cody.
Park KOA Kampground of the Year


2011
Yellowstone Nationall Park Area
Cody

5561 Greybull Highway
Cody, WY 82414
May 1 - October 1
koa.com/camp/cody
RESERVATIONS (800) 562-8507
INFO (303) 587-2369
A mountain view comes with your kampsite on a grassy meadow east of this forntier town founded by showman and Wild West icon Buffalo Bill. The Buffalo Bill Historical Center houses five museums featuring art, Native American artifacts and exhibits. KOA makes it easy to visit attractions. A shutle runs to the Cody Nite Rodeo every summer evening, and bus tours of Yellowstone National Park can be booked upon arrival. Fill up free on pancakes at KOA before heading out on your own or with a guide to whitewater raft of fly-fish on the Shoshone River. Don't miss the spectacular views of the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway, climbig high into the Rockies. Swim in the heated pool or soak in the hot tub while little ones splash in a separate wading pool. The new Fun Zone includes a Jumping Pillow playground, giant chess/checkers and fun-bike rentals. Fido will enjoy the Kamp K9 dog park. Stick around for evening events including Thursday bingo, Friday ice cream socials and Saturday s'mores. Free Wi-Fi! Your hosts: Recreational Adventures Co.
On US 14/16/20: 3 miles E of Cody.
Past KOA Kampground of the Year

2012
Yellowstone National Park Area
Cody

5561 Greybull Highway
Cody, WY 82414
May 1 - October 1
koa.com/camp/cody
Reservations (800) 562-8507
INFO (307) 587-2369
A mountain view comes with your kampsite on a grassy meadow east fo this frontier rown founded by showman and Wild West icon Buffalo Bill. The Buffalo Bill Historical Center houses five museums featuring art, Native American artifacts and exhibits. KOa makes it easy to visit attractions. A shuttle runs to the Cody Nite Rodeo every summer evening, and bus tours of Yellowstone National Park can be booked upon arrival. Fill up on free pancakes at KOA before heading out on your own or with a guide to whitewater raft or fly-fish on the Shoshone River. Don't miss the spectacular views of Chief Josepf Scenic Highway, climbing high into the Rockies. Swin in the heated pool or soak in the hot tub while little ones splash in a separate ading pool. The new Fun Zone includes a Jumping Pillow, plaground, giant chess/checkers and fun-bike rentals. Fido will enjoy the Kamp K9 dog park. Stick around for evening events including Thursday bingo, Friday ice cream socials and Saturday s'mores. Free Wi-Fi! your hosts: Recreational Adventures Co.
On US 14/16/20: 3 mi E of Cody. Past KOA Campground of the Year


2013
Yellowstone National Park Area
Cody

5561 Greybull Highway
Cody, WY 82414
May 1 - OCtober 1
koa.com/camp/cody
RESERVATIONS (800) 562-8507
INFO (307) 587-2369
If a vacation with Cody and Yellowstone National Park is in the cards, the Cody KOA is a sure bet. Just an hour away from the East entrance to Yellowstone, this campground makes a perfect base camp for your Western adventures. Ride the free shuttle to Cody Nite Rodeo every summer evening. Let KOA book your Yellowstone guided tour. Buffalo Bill Historical Center houses five museums featuring art, Native American artifacts and exhibits. Fill up on free pancakes at KOA before heading out on your own or with a guide to whitewater raft of fly-fish on the Shoshone River. Don't miss the spectacular views of Chief Joseph Scenic Highway, climbing high into the Rockies. Swin in the heated pool or soak in the hot tub while the little ones splash in a separate wading pool. The new Fun Zone includes a Jumping Pillow, playground, giant chess/checkers and fun-bike rentals. Fido will enjoy the Kamp K9 dog park. Stick around for evening events including Thursday bingo, Friday ice cream socials and Saturday s'mores. Your hosts: Recreational Adventures Co.
On US 14/16/20: 3 miles E of Cody.
Past KOA Kampground of the Year


Lamentable is the fact, that during the six days given over to creation, picnic tables and outdoor fireplaces, footbridges and many other of man's requirements, even in natural surroundings, were negligently and entirely overlooked.
— Albert Good

Modern campsites embody a peculiar contradiction: they are marketed to perpetuate the cherished American ideal of the backwoods camp yet serviced by an increasingly sophisticated range of utilities and conveniences. Good's mock surprise that the original wilderness was not outfitted with amenities points to an increasingly common attitude: that nature is not only an Eden to be consumed, but that it is also expected to remain comfortable, visually and emotionally inspiring, its tangible effects negligible. Modern campground operators themselves emphasize this perception, typically closing facilities before seasonal temperatures plunge below the freezing point. As a result, most campers are so unlikely to ever confront the rigors of weather that a light evening frost, some persistent bugs, or a light rain might now count as hardships worthy of being recounted around the dinner table for years to come.

Good’s hyperbole also suggests that properly rusticated infrastructural components are not obstacles to, but rather a necessary condition of, the full enjoyment of nature. These components mark a specific potential for use: picnic tables for sitting and eating, fire pits around which to set up camp, wooden steps for negotiating difficult grades, and the like. Features such as campground taps (with filtered water often piped in from distant sources) reinforce this characterization of nature as an abstraction. Similarly, the introduction of electrical lighting in public campgrounds during the 1920s was received as a significant technological advance, artificially lengthening the day so that campers could remain on the road longer and not be caught pitching their tent in complete darkness.

During the late nineteenth century, the camp had been a site of intense activity for the recreating sportsmen and their local guides who would salt and dry game and fish, feed hunting dogs, repair and adjust rifles and rods, and recount entertaining stories around the campfire. Bruce Davidson’s wonderfully ironic 1966 photograph of Yosemite National Park (shown in the exhibit introduction) illustrates the extent of a radical physical transformation far beyond what even advocates like Albert Good may have envisioned: the camp has been reduced to a glorified pantry¬, where imported goods are merely consumed. Spread amidst the visual field of debris that is the campsite, a box of Ritz crackers near the geometrical center of the picture is identified as the true visual and narrative focus of the scene.

Davidson's photograph prompts an important question: when does the adventure of camping, over-loaded by the quotidian, blurs into an experience altogether so ordinary, so familiar, that it ceases to hold any of its old, almost mythical power? In other words, when does camping cease to be camping? The answer may largely be a matter of perception: purists might gasp at the availability of flush toilets, while others might draw the line at the necessity of driving to the campsite, or the opportunity of overnighting an $300,000 RV in a Walmart parking lot. The ability to hook in and watch a nationally televised baseball game from the concrete pad outside a late-model RV using campground-provided cable, or to send emails wirelessly from the campsite picnic table—standard amenities at most KOAs—surely bespeaks the near total elimination of boundaries between the home and away.




Comfort and the illusion of rusticity
For all the scenic charm of its lakeside campsite in the Adirondacks, Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait’s widely circulated 1878 lithograph for Currier and Ives sends a reassuring message to its affluent, urban audience, suggesting that patrons traveling to the region need not perform any of the daily tasks required of camp life on their own. Key activities like hunting, fishing, and cooking are construed as forms of utilities that can be accomplished by local guides (a convenience doubly valuable since most patrons could not perform these tasks even if so inclined). Dressed in a bowtie, vest, and jacket to “keep up appearances and to avoid the sense of living in an uncouth or barbarous way,” Tait's care-free tourist can be easily identified—not for his manner of dress or pictorial standing within the image, but because he isn’t really doing anything.




"An insulating barrier of technology"
In Forever Wild: Environmental Aesthetics and the Adirondack Preserve, author Phillip Terrie argues that “[…] the sportsman never really felt at home in the wilderness, he depended on an insulating barrier of technology, civilized comforts, and psychological buffers to keep himself from being overwhelmed by the vastness of nature and by an environment in which he perceived himself to be somehow out of place."

This imagined scene puts a contemporary spin to Terrie's observations by rewarding Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait’s Adirondacks campers to a shopping spree at Campmor, a popular mail-order and online retailer based in New Jersey. Smartly concealing the highly sophisticated and diversified nature of its equipment, the company’s hand-illustrated catalog recalls an earlier, folksier era of camping where mismatched plates and other faded domestic items constituted the bulk of one's camping gear. Speculating on the idea of a contemporary "insulating barrier of technology", the scene is focused not externally on the context surrounding the site but on 32 brand new, shiny pieces of gear customized for the rigors of the modern campsite (a solar radio, a self-inflating air mattress, etc...). For many, it is the supercharged nature of this display, and not the campsite's natural setting, that constitutes its own form of seduction.




On-site / off-site
Before the incremental and systematic implementation of modern utilities like those described in Motor Camping, recreational campers have to transport an array of domestic apparatus (including water basins, tables, chairs, stoves, tents, etc.) from one campground to another. To carry all these comforts, touring automobiles are outfitted with sideboard lockers, trailers, and even built-in unfolding tents and tables. The motor vehicle quickly becomes integral to the camping experience, not only for what it can transport but also as an extension of the campsite. In the 1920s—an era that predates campers and RVs—trade advertisements trumpet curious inventions such as hammocks strewn inside automobiles and engine surfaces that double as hot plates for preparing meals.



The campground as utility

Consolidating information on over 2,000 municipal, state, and federal facilities, chapter XIII of Motor Camping by John Cuthbert Long and John Dietrichjoint Long (1923) stands out as the first true first directory of U.S. campgrounds. This comprehensive 110-page inventory provides for the first time tangible evidence that the campground is no longer merely an open spot to set up camp but also a place increasingly defined by utility. Arranged state by state in a six-column matrix, the authors establish rigid criteria that allow campers to compare—in advance of arrival—the relative merits of potential destinations.



Increasing specifications
The evolution of on-site campground utilities since the 1923 publication of Motor Camping inventory is remarkable: in the case of National Park Service facilities, the matter of showers—a simple yes/no datum for the Long brothers—now elicits a range of responses: cold water; hot water; coin operated; nearby; in summer only; none. During research leading to this exhibit, online descriptions of the Park Service’s 462 campgrounds were systematically compiled and inventoried, revealing a range of no less than 56 different aspects related to campground life—a far cry from Motor Camping's original 6 criteria matrix.

Similar analysis of other campground systems has produced a comparably wide breadth of criteria, and both the internal consistency of description within systems and the overlap between systems proves revealing. From the variety of descriptions it is quickly evident that National Park Service campgrounds are uniquely tailored to site constraints, with no two facilities quite being presented in the same manner. Contrast this with the descriptions provided for New York State campgrounds—one of the most comprehensive park systems in the country: each location is described far more systemically, and an emphasis on recreational activities (particularly water-based) and disability access is evident. Always the pragmatist, KOA goes to great lengths to lay out the various types of accommodations available at its campgrounds (hookups, patio types, kabins, campsites), and may spare a few words on recreational opportunities.


Is this a tourist camp? I asked, looking around with interest. We had heard about them, but had expected something more elaborate. Sure, it’s a tourist camp, he told us. Anythin’s a tourist camp what has water and no-trespass signs. All the town’s has got ’em now. They figure they give you a place where you can pitch your tent and you’ll buy food and stuff at their stores. You gals want I should give you a hand with your tent?
-Beth O'Shea, 1920s camper

Walmart’s decision 10 year ago to open its parking lots nationally to overnighting RVers free of charge indicates a further and potentially radical devaluation of the campsite. With its only goal being to attract new customers, Walmart’s decision created—overnight—a new campground network with thousands of facilities that could rival camping giants like KOA. Taking the retailing giant to its word, even occasional tenters have tested these new campsites (sadly the asphalt resists the staking that normally formalizes the claiming of the site). Rand McNally sensed an opportunity and began including in its state maps all Walmart locations, so that out-of-town shoppers and campers, unfamiliar with the local settings, could find their way to one of the retailing giant's big box stores.

The aggregation of campgrounds into state and national networks is critical in bringing a certain consistency among individually disparate facilities. Systems-level thinking produces a uniformity of services, prices, management, which in turn leads to a continuity of experience. Deeply embedded camping rituals are in some regards the product of similar-looking places too, no matter the location: locate the site on the map, park the car, open the trunk, pull out the gear, unfold the tent, find the nearest water tap, locate bathrooms, etc...

Physical infrastructure has played a large role in the remarkable systematization and standardization of camping culture in the United States. In the late nineteenth century railroad companies developed tourist camps throughout the American West, not only connecting outdoor experience with travel but streamlining the process through a single commercial agent. With the management of national parks and monuments being entrusted to him in 1916, Stephen Mather, first superintendent of to a newly formed National Park Service, envisioned a physical road that would link the major parks of the American West. For Mather, the 5,600-mile Park-to-Park Highway, though unrealized, constituted a powerful manifestation of systems-level thinking—a means to cohere the parks’ national identity and secure its future success in the American imagination.

Key publications have had an significant impact as well: Emilio Meinecke's A Camp Ground Policy (1928) and Albert Good's Park and Recreation Structures (1938) were widely disseminated, just as the WPA and Civilian Conservation Corps were charged with a major expansion of recreational facilities in state and national parks. These specification still form much of the backbone of contemporary campground design. Similarly, the Long Brothers’ 1923 Motor Camping inventory of 2,000 facilities nationwide, discussed in Part 3, promoted the belief in the existence of a national network of campgrounds, even though each facility operated independently of the others. With such information at their disposal, campers would indeed be able to decide in advance of arrival where to stay at the end of the day.

At first glance, it would seem that a commercially-driven, private operator would have less the public interest in mind. This might in part explain why they are unfortunately left out of many camping discussions altogether. Here such facilities and operators act as a conceptual counterweight to public systems of facilities because they often articulate a less traditional set of values. Indeed, the sheer number of private facilities nationwide (8,000, compared to roughly 6,000 for state and federal campgrounds combined) should make them hard to ignore. Like the hotel chains it emulated, KOA built up its own virtual access infrastructure; mass mailings, credit card reservations and a toll-free phone number contributed to its early success. Their campgrounds include swimming pools, prepared foods, dog runs, mini putts, laundry rooms, wi-fi, and even cable television. And in the 1980s, following in KOA’s footsteps, third-party entities like ReserveAmerica sought to appropriate this virtual access model by offering to match campers and campgrounds (for a fee) through a sophisticated phone reservation system and later a web-based service. In the virtual world, campgrounds of every stripe coexist in the same space. With the sale of the company in 2001 to Interactive Corp, which also manages Ticketmaster, and hotels.com, is camping merely a form of entrainment and mass recreation?


National Park Campgrounds: big and small
National Park campgrounds are as diverse as the settings in which they are located: their size ranges from very small (Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn features 40 campsites), to the moderately large (Mesa Verde's Morefield is the park service's largest campground at 453 campsites). With each dot representing a single campground, this density map reveals patterns of concentration and size around key chains of parks, namely those strategically identified by Park Superintendent Stephen Mather in his 1916 proposal for a Park-to-Park Highway across the American West, as well as the chain linking the Blue Ridge Parkway, Shenandoah, and Great Smoky National Parks in Virginia and Kentucky. Other national holdings (United States Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, etc..) are shown in light grey.



State Parks campgrounds: coverage, size, density
Largely developed during the 1930s at the height of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and Works Progress Administration (WPA), state parks form the backbone of the country's public campground system. Unlike National Parks, they are easily accessible, rarely more than an hour or two's drive from major urban centers. This density map reveals a surprisingly broad and consistent coverage nationally, among which key examples can be noted: some for their sheer size (at 1,070 sites, El Dorado State Park in Kansas, which was built around an artificial reservoir completed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, is the single largest public campground in the country); other areas (the Pacific coast is a literal wall of campgrounds) or states (Michigan, New York State) stand out for their excellent coverage.


KOA: An alternative history
Behind KOA's highly visible and successful brand lies an uncomfortable fact—that nearly two-thirds of the facilities ever opened by the camping giant are now closed. A consultation of each national directory since the company's inception in the early 1960s establishes a precise timeline for no less than 1,158 individual facilities. The timeline foregrounds the highly unstable nature of the camping business, which, unlike national and state parks, remains subject to land values, gas prices, and other key economic indicators.
Key urban centers, like Denver, Knoxville, and Orlando, have been intensely developed over this period: Orlando has always constituted a haven of sorts for KOA campers. Some of its largest campgrounds are located in the state. With nearly 800 campsites, the company's campground at Okeechobee is by far its largest facility. Located on the outskirts of the Orlando area, Okeechobee is so large that it functions as a small, semi-temporary village for wintering RVers.


From scratch... to scratched out
From a single campground in 1962 to 829 nationwide by 1979, KOA's propulsive growth signaled a significant, but temporary spike in camping culture. Whose family did not take part in a camping trip during the 1970s? By the mid-1960s this privately owned chain of campgrounds had already surpassed the National Park Service in the number of individual campsites. Since then, however, this number of franchises has progressively shrunk by almost half. Using the pages of the 1979 directory edition as an expression of KOA’s maximum expansion, this collage illustrates in a very direct way the particular volatility of private campground development by graphically erasing all the facilities that are no longer in operation.

Reasons for KOA closings, which are never acknowledged in the company’s annual directories, are varied: some facilities fail to meet KOA’s exacting service standards and lose their franchise status; others shut down because of insufficient business; some become trailer parks; and a few strategically located grounds close when successful land-banking strategies finally come to fruition (a campground in the Florida Keys recently sold for more than $65 million).




15 minutes or less: the road as place
Stephen Mather, first superintendent for the National Parks Services, viewed his 1916 proposal for a highway connecting the major national parks of the American West (shown in light grey) as key to their future success: tourists would be able to experience not one but often several parks in a single trip, which become perceived as a coherent system of destinations.

Mather could never have envisioned that roads such as this one would one day function as powerful attractors for campers. No longer simply a destination activity, KOA campgrounds have taken their rightful place at highway exits everywhere with the likes of McDonald’s, Holiday Inn and Home Depot. It would seem hardly surprising that over half of the 1,150 franchises ever developed by the company are within a few miles of major interstates, but a surprising number of state park and other public campgrounds are as well: in this map, dashed lines represent a corridor that is within 15 minutes' drive from major interstates. All campgrounds located within this region are included in the map. Working across administrative jurisdictions (national, state, private), this high speed network could be said to form the spine of a new, national network of easily accessible campgrounds.


An alternative history
Behind KOA's highly visible and successful brand lies an uncomfortable fact—that nearly two-thirds of the facilities ever opened by the camping giant are now closed. A consultation of each national directory since the company's inception in the early 1960s establishes a precise timeline for no less than 1,158 individual facilities. The timeline foregrounds the highly unstable nature of the camping business, which, unlike national and state parks, remains subject to land values, gas prices, and other key economic indicators.



The remarkable consistency in the spatial organization of campgrounds has remained unchanged since the 1930s: driving loops, parking spurs, and a core of shared services surrounded by sites individually furnished with picnic tables and fire pits fare found in campgrounds of every stripe. Then as now, motorized vehicles dictate spatial arrangements more than the campers themselves.

In this survey, I attempt a more nuanced understanding of this landscape of camping by visiting some real places. There are, not surprisingly, a lot of campgrounds to choose from: estimates suggest there are 6,000 state or federally-managed facilities nationwide, as well as 8,000 privately owned campgrounds. Clicking away in Google Earth, dropping in and out of different parts of the country with breathtaking speed, I visited many of these campgrounds—often hundreds in a single seating: Bayou Segnette State Park in Louisiana, KOA Lubbock, Grand Canyon Trailer Park Village in Grand Canyon National Park, Tom Johnson RV Center in Marion, NC, Cedar Pass Campground in Badlands National Park, the Walmart parking lot in Gallup, NM, only to name a few. Could this kind of travel—while highly abstract—yield, in the crisp, photographic reality of the aerial imagery, some new insight that maps and diagrams could not?

At the same time, I began collecting user-generated online content (Flickr, Wikimedia, Google Images, etc..) and other visual materials like postcards, so that I could see how these very same facilities were being experienced on the ground by real campers. Camping is not exempt from the contemporary obsession with documenting and sharing all aspects of one's life: YouTube videos, blogs, tweets, and photographs on Flickr and Facebook detail personal vacations at popular facilities. The juxtaposition of these 2 datasets, or points of view (from the air vs. on the ground; authoritative vs. intimate; context vs. site), form the basis for the following series of visual montages.

Crosshairs precisely mark the location of each campground at the center of the lower, squared image: this visual reference recalls the X on the map that campers often receive when they first check in to help them locate their campsite. This allows the scale of the aerial image to vary as needed, revealing patterns both within the campgrounds or in the larger spatial setting. What emerges is a kind of landscape of camping, situated along a surprisingly broad gradient of experience, from the protected wilderness of national parks to the densely urban, to facilities so large they could be considered small towns unto themselves. The unique perspective of the aerial image reveals sublime landscapes shaped both by human agency and by geological forces. This produces a powerful contrast with the experience on the ground, where images are often interchangeable: camping is shown to be a mundane activity conducted in a carefully prescribed setting, not a minimalist human stronghold within a broad wilderness: people coming and going, setting up and breaking down tents, collectively re-enacting a deeply shared cultural fantasy of being away and roughing it, usually in plain view of others.

Where is Loop B, Site 32?

Read the feature slideshow on Kampgrounds of America in Places



















































Landing Strip is a runway and resting facility for pilots set high in the desert. The project pays hommage to land artists like James Turrell and Robert Smithson, who used small airplanes to identify and document potential project sites across the American West.




Characterized by a finite length of asphalt (a runway with a clearly defined beginning and end), the Landing Strip constitutes the only true means of access to the site, as well as its entire reason for being: a transition point for refueling and resting.





Much like a plane approaching the runway is like a building to the ground, the Landing Strip addresses the idea of the ground line as an architectural project. As such, the section is used as the conceptual generator of spatial and programmatic relationships.




The Landing Strip is intended to be used not as a private retreat but rather as a shared piece of infrastructure, an oasis of sorts for planes and pilots on their way someplace else.




The site features showers and restrooms, a pool and lounging area, a maintenance garage, and refueling capabilities. All facilities are embedded in the ground, beneath the runway.








Like Walter de Maria’s Lightning Field, Landing Strip is an “unfinished” work that is completed over and over again by its engagement with the forces and patterns for which it was designed. To be sure, it is a finished installation of materials on a site, but one that is only completed fully when pilots land there, in transition and in need of fuel or rest. Even then its completeness lasts only for an instant. On days when no planes are in sight, the site resorbs into the landscape, invisible and empty, in anticipation of the next arrival.


For architecture, the Landing Strip suggests the possibility that completed projects be seen as open-ended projects that seek to work with an ever-changing set of conditions. In short, to conceive of the site as project is to invite the designer to strategically recognize and minimally mark potentials for occupation (for example, the lightning in De Maria’s project), teasing out qualities without overpowering them.



Under Construction / On this site examines the cycle of installation and dismantling of gardens around the festival grounds. Each year visitors experience new projects as well as others that remain on the grounds for extended periods of time. Returning visitors may also recall past projects that have now been taken down. With its temporary plywood construction fencing blocking access to the site, the installation allows curious onlookers to drill through the history of a specific garden plot on the Metis festival grounds and peek at a photographic inventory of projects installed there since the first edition in 2000.



The 17th street Canal, whose breach flooded large areas of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, marks the dividing line between Orleans Parish and Jefferson Parish. It accommodates runoff from both parishes (75% Orleans, 25% Jefferson Parish), but it is drained only by Orleans Parish pumps. The canal’s jurisdiction is shared among the two parishes, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Orleans Parish Sewerage and Water Board. This fragmented administration is inefficient and opaque. The canal functions only as a drainage feature, isolated from the city and from its constituents.



The intervention proposes an emergency spillway from the 17th Street Canal directly into a nearby canal in Jefferson Parish, where sophisticated pumps have greater capacity than those in Orleans Parish. During normal conditions, the spillway functions as a public amphitheater. The canal’s capacity is thus increased, and its levée is modified to allow inhabitation and public uses presently unavailable to city residents.


These diagrams illustrate the operating capacity of the new spillway into Jefferson Parish.



The new plaza at the base of the canal functions as a public space and access ramp. When flooded, the plaza functions as an emergency spillway. A draw bridge provides access between the 2 parishes.



These diagrams illustrate the formal modification of the levée, allowing access and public uses presently unavailable to city residents. The new public pool in Orleans Parish marks the spot where the 17th Street Canal's eastern levée failed in 2004, innundating the neighborhood of Lakeview.

Introduction

Within architectural thought and process, the site is traditionally thought of as a physical location, a piece of ground that is bound to the earth and subject to its physical laws. Site is also commonly conceived as a location for an intervention; a neutral or unfinished lot to be completed by an architectural project. Site and project are often thought to be distinct, one making way for the other.

Work performed in the context of Land and Conceptual Art provides a unique challenge to these assumptions. There the site and the project have been understood as interwoven in the production of art. For many of these artists, site is integral to the activities of reflection (design) and making (production). The location of the work is often established by the artist and the material qualities often emerge from a manipulation of found conditions as much as from new construction. In such projects, the site not only invites artistic activity but often constitutes its constructive result: “one does not impose, but rather expose the site...”2 Within architecture, then, the notion of site might be similarly broadened by thinking of it as a fundamental part of the design and building process. To conceive the site as constructed is to challenge its given, immutable qualities. It is to enter into a contentious territory of creation, one that is vulnerable to new and exciting interpretations.

What follows is a discussion of Land and Conceptual Art projects that suggests a reconsideration of the relationship between site and project within architecture. To do so, three key concepts central to the way we understand the site will be challenged: the role that imagination, location, and time play in constructing the site.

Download this article originally published in the Journal of Architectural Education

1. Constructing the Site: Imagination

There are latent assumptions to be challenged. For example, the persistent consideration of site as existing solely at or above the surface of the earth…3

In her seminal article "On Site: Architectural Preoccupations", Carol Burns proposes the notion of the cleared site to describe the traditional thinking about architectural sites -- that the site is no more than that which awaits architectural intervention -- something empty or cleared of content either physically or intellectually. She shows this concept to be simultaneously pervasive and destructive, suggesting that the cleared site is really no more than a formal strategy -- an unhelpful habit of architectural thinking.4 For her, a more fruitful direction lies in the recognition that all sites are constructions, whether out of a set of empirical conditions, the imagination, or both. The site is never simply found, but instead always constitutes an act of making.5

Robert Smithson and the dialectic of site and nonsite

Perhaps there are always 2 landscapes: one which we physically perceive and one which we mentally construct. We could say, perhaps, that the successful earthworks are those which generate a presence at both levels. 6

Robert Smithson’s Nonsites provide a challenge to the traditional notion of site described by Burns. For him, the site was never simply a repository of features ripe for intervention, but served as the artistic project in itself -- the site as project. Located in a gallery or museum, each "nonsite" is an installation intended to represent, through a number of constituent parts (maps, extracted soil samples contained in manufactured bins, photographs, written narratives), an actual site located outside the gallery and visited by the artist. For Smithson, the role of the imagination is not to complete or build upon a suggestive canvas provided by the site, but rather to point out the gap that exists between the unprocessed, found reality of the land and its appropriation in ways that provide specific interpretations of the site. The artist described this process as a “Dialectic between Site and Nonsite”, a process that directly engages both the empirical and the imagined, the sight and the non-sight.7
The artifacts or parts that form the nonsite, taken individually, yield a series of distinct operations that define the site as constructed: the rocks indicate collecting and displacing; the bins frame or establish boundaries; the photographs suggest walking or moving about the site; the maps indicate location, and so on. While the sum of these artifacts resists definition as a single, cohesive whole or site, the land that has been transposed into the gallery reclaims above all else the status of the neutral piece of ground that we come to associate with the traditional open site awaiting intervention:

The site, in a sense, is the physical, raw reality -- the earth or the ground that we are not really aware of when we are in an interior room or studio or something like that -- and so I decided that I would set limits in terms of this dialogue [...] and as a result I went and instead of putting something on the landscape I decided it would be interesting to transfer the land indoors, to the nonsite, which is an abstract container.8

However, it is the displacement of earth from the actual site to the gallery nonsite that produces the shift in awareness between found and constructed ideals of site desired by Smithson. In Mono Lake Non-Site, the samples of earth extracted from the site and the map are purposely displayed differently. The samples sit on the floor of the gallery and are presented perspectivally to the viewer while the map, hung on the wall at eye level, appears in orthographic projection as an undistorted image. Thus the same site is presented two ways -- one concerned with the experience of sight, the other with an intellectualization or rationalization of the land. A full reconciliation of the actual site is possible only in the mind. The sites of each nonsite are firmly rooted in the mind not as a single picture, but as a rich set of representations open to the viewer’s scrutiny. In the outside world, however, the passage of the artist has left no physical traces.9 Visits to the site are possible, but Smithson offers that “once you get there you’re on your own”.10 The repercussions of this idea are profound: while we traditionally expect the site to be that place which awaits intervention, for Smithson “the site is where a piece should be but isn’t.”11

Ultimately, the Nonsites suggest that what we have come to understand as the site for work might be little more than the set of ideas we have about that site. The lesson is then twofold. First, what is empirically present is never enough to serve as a site. Second, a site is also never only the set of ideas about a place or its representations, but is always submerged within the dialectic of both ideas and concrete experience.



Smithson's cryptic statement that "the site is where a piece should be but isn't" suggests yet a deeper reading of site that we have not yet considered. Like a palimpsest, any actual site could be seen as a specific set of locations, a variety of narratives, and therefore suggests many possibilities for action. But it is also possible to conceive, based on Smithson's work and statement, that the site might be nothing more than the structure of one's experience. In this he prefigures the work of Richard Long. Within much of his work, the site is conceived not as a clearly delineated place, but as a structure for experience in the form of a process (to walk in a straight line) or map (to walk in the landscape the radius of a circle as drawn on a map).

Five Walks
A walk of 30 miles
A walk passing 30 farmhouses (24 miles)
A walk crossing 30 crossroads (34 miles)
A walk seeing 30 blackbirds (29 miles)
A walk lasting 30 hours (96 miles)

Richard Long, Six Days and One Night in England, 1993

Considering the work shown above, Long lays out a set of conditions (miles, farmhouses, crossroads, blackbirds, and time) that provide a structure to a site without describing a specific site at all; it is the rigidity of the established itinerary (or project) that leads to a concrete experience of the landscape. This produces a kind of reversal in which it is the project that is given and where the site becomes the object of creative speculation. In the example above, the site is the site formed by the project, a walk that passes 30 farmhouses, or a walk seeing 30 blackbirds.

Long's trajectories through the landscape also suggest new ways in which we might reconsider our own initial visits to a new site: for the architect, such trajectories or visits typically include a careful measuring of the land, taking account of its critical features, and the like. What becomes possible are site investigations that might reveal the qualities of a site that would otherwise remain latent with the use of conventional surveying procedures.

The work of Long and Smithson suggests the importance of the imagination in enabling more diverse and richer concrete experiences of the land. Smithson helps architects to consider the richness of a site outside of its physical properties and features by establishing the importance of ideas and the imagination in site definition. Long and Smithson together suggest that it may be enriching to think of a site as the structure of action that conditions our experience of any environment. With both, we are confronted with the idea that sites can exist in the mind's eye before they are established as precise locations in the world.

2. Site and Location


The work of Long and Smithson calls into question the traditional assumption that a site is a location that precedes the project. Further, they question the idea of a site as belonging only to the realm of the concrete, the known, and the quantifiable; i.e., conditions thought to be received by the architect and over which s/he has little or no control.12 In this they dislodge the assumed primacy of location in the definition of a site and place it alongside the site as a concept -- as a set of ideas and relationships in the mind. Similarly, others artists have extended this challenge to the relationship between project, location, and site by making site selection an integral part of the creative process. Examples include instances in which a project once formed is completed by a choice of site (as with Long), or in which the location of the site is established by selecting that place that most closely matches specific attributes of an imagined, ideal site.

Much of the distinctive power of the early Matta-Clark interventions like Bronx Floors (1972) were developed through the appropriate selection of the site. The artist had begun experimenting with the idea of extracting building wall and floor fragments during the renovations of his own loft and the restaurant “Food” in New York, which he co-owned. Recognizing the artistic potential to this kind of intervention, Matta-Clark later actively solicited city officials for the use of abandoned buildings as potential sites for more extensive projects of the same nature.13 As a case of the project preceding the site, Matta-Clark hoped to project the idea of abandonment primarily by reinforcing, through careful interventions of removal, the state and feeling of abandonment that was already a part of these buildings. Receiving no response, the artist forged ahead and completed the project without permission from the buildings’ owners, thus lending additional subversiveness to the project itself.



In a more linear fashion, James Turrell spent over six months searching for an ideal location for what would later become the site for Roden Crater. In his previous work on natural light, Turrell had begun experimenting with a series of Skyspaces -- small vertical chambers in which a large, single opening created in the roof allowed the viewer to experience the changing quality of the light in the sky. He began to envision an extinct volcano as the earthly site of a much larger Skyspace that would need to meet a number of spatial and phenomenological expectations.14 Thus, the crater project literally preceded or determined the selection of the site.15 Upon discovering the Roden Crater site near Flagstaff, Arizona, in 1974, Turrell went on to purchase not only the volcano itself but also large quantities of surrounding land. Thus he was able to control views from the top of the crater -- and in the process match the expansiveness of the sky above to the views he has carefully sculpted and constructed within. For Turrell, the true site of this project is not so much the volcano itself, but the territory of the sky.

The relationship between location and site is further brought in question through the notion of the margin. In this regard, sites are thought possible in places that we would not normally understand as sites or in places that cannot be located or appear on standard maps or registers. Our traditional assumptions of possible locations as a “site for something” are disrupted. In this regard, Matta-Clark's occupation of unoccupied buildings and Turrell's open sky site serve to suggest that sites can exist outside of traditional frameworks of reference.

Both margin and marginalization have been important themes behind works of Land Art. Smithson's early journeys to the industrial wastelands of New Jersey (the Nonsites, as well as the Monuments of Passaic travelogue) and later the Southwestern desert (Spiral Jetty) with Michael Heizer and others, indicates the importance of a search for increasingly marginalized sites. For Walter de Maria, "isolation is the essence of Land Art" because it severed connections to the art world and its institutions by seeking locations remote from major urban and cultural centers.16 Many felt that a greater degree of creative freedom was achieved in their work in this way. These projects invite speculation for both the potential for far-flung sites in architecture and the notion that access to these marginal places can constitute an integral part of the constructed experience of site.17



Matta-Clark's Fake Estates serves as an intriguing example of margin used literally to refer to spaces left over within the urban environment. The project embraces conventions of mapping and surveying traditionally employed in establishing the location and the precise boundaries of the site. Fake Estates explores those particular moments in the process of subdividing property where such conventions produce a conceptual excess of surveying, as it were, thus fostering unexpected anomalies in the fabric of the city. Survey lines become so numerous that new, unintended parcels begin to appear.

The artist purchased fourteen parcels of residual land, deemed gutter space or curb property, from the cities of Queens and Staten Island that had been put on sale for $25 each: a 2.33’ x 355’ long strip of land, a 1.83’ x 1.11’ lot, among others.18 Many were literally inaccessible and landlocked between buildings or other properties. Of these, Matta-Clark remarked: “that's an interesting quality; something that can be owned but never experienced."19 The artist created an exhibit of his newly acquired properties by assembling for each, and with deadpan accuracy, a photographic inventory of the site, its exact dimensions and location, as well as the deed to the property. For Matta-Clark, "the unusability of this land -- and the verification of space through the laws of property -- is [the] principal object of [his] critique."20 Thus the role of site in relation to unusual or unusable locations is rhetorical; they cannot receive a building within a traditional understanding of an architectural project. Fake Estates invites speculation as to the value and purpose of land and reveals the conceptual potential of real sites -- even small and unusable ones. It suggests an aggressive seeking of sites in unexpected locations, or simply in those places we assume do not have architectural potential.
The Fake Estates project also firmly established architecture as the site of Matta-Clark's creative work.21 Seen in a larger context, “Fake Estates” is part of an artistic tradition of projects within Conceptual Art concerned with neglected architectural environments that make up the urban and suburban fabric. In many of these projects, again, the site is first an object of the mind -- looking critically, as it were, at familiar conditions in the built environment. These works include the documentary surveys of Dan Graham (suburban housing), Ed Ruscha's studies of parking lots, gas stations, and apartment buildings in Los Angeles, Hans Haacke’s mapping of real estate holdings in Manhattan, the work of Robert Smithson, as well as the interventions of Matta-Clark, Christo and Jeanne Claude, Rachel Whiteread, and others. The implication for architects is an interesting reversal of assumptions in that the finished building (and not the site on which it resides) becomes the site for work. These projects constitute a reminder that most buildings and structures are often conceptually neglected over time and thus can serve as rich sites for future projects.

3. Site and Time: The Site as Process

There is a conceptual elegance to the idea that a site can be a project in itself. One can design with this sense of time and change in mind, rather than follow the logic of the term project that in architecture suggests a more arrested state of things.

The building surveys and interventions of Christo and Jeanne Claude, Matta-Clark, and others are cases in which built structures are themselves later critically reinvested as sites. Architectural sites traditionally refer to that interval of time in which a project is conceived (the project site) and built (construction site). Before this period of reflection in which the architect is involved intellectually with the site, the location exists merely as a place of unfocused attention -- a place that doesn't command any specific meaning attached to architecture and building. Upon completion, both project and site are subsumed within a new term that often designates purpose or use such as home or office. Here it might be said then that site is a transitory expression -- a generic and often abstract placeholder until a more permanent form of inhabitation is manifested. The use of buildings as sites in Conceptual Art engages a mutual process of dis-placement, rather than simply in an act of re-placement. Carol Burns writes:

Architecture is not constituted of buildings or sites but arises from the studied relationship of the two and from an awareness that site is received as an architectural construct.22



Walter de Maria's Lightning Field, a gridded field of thin stainless steel poles set into the high plains of New Mexico, can best be understood as more of a site than a project. To be sure, it is a finished installation of materials on a site, but one that is only completed fully when lightning strikes. Even then its completeness lasts only for an instant. On days when no storms are in sight, the shiny metal finish and the positioning of the poles provide a site in anticipation of the lightning. The poles also seem to disappear and reappear as the light changes across the site. Lightning Field is an unfinished work that is completed over and over again by its engagement with the forces and patterns for which it was designed. For architecture it suggests the possibility that completed projects be seen as open-ended projects that seek to work with an ever-changing set of conditions. It proposes a design approach to intervene minimally, where needed, and in reference to what is already there. It invites the designer to recognize the potential of a site and tease out its qualities without overpowering them.

To rethink site and project is also to conceive the site as a process. For Richard Long, "a walk is just one more layer, a mark, laid upon the thousands of other layers of human and geographic history to the surface of the land."23 Understood in this way, a site is something of a repository of its own history, some of which can be found physically embedded within the site, while much else resides more ephemerally in the human history of it. It is a repository that is forever in the process of change.



Smithson's work is deeply influenced by a sense of time beyond recent occupations and narratives, and in a site's geological time line that far precedes and will likely far exceed its human occupation.24 It is a perspective that provides him a sense of immediacy, indeterminacy, and insignificance in the sense that his works are always works in process. Similarly, for many land artists, the notion of time and its actions on the site is understood as a creative shaping force. Michael Heizer and Dennis Oppenheim have acknowledged the powerful role that time plays in transforming their work, even to the point of eventual disappearance.25

Given this extended context set by Smithson and Long, a walk, like the most lasting buildings or landscapes, all constitute events that occupy relatively short increments of time in the history of a site. The site remains a construction without a single author.26 The role of architecture may not be to establish permanence but rather to acknowledge a certain richness of experience on the site. To operate in this way is to accept the inevitability of change. Future events are fused with the history of the site through the imagination as a substitute for direct experience. In recent large scale landscape architecture competitions such as those of Downsview Park in Toronto, and Fresh Kills on Staten Island in New York, the capacity of the site to adapt and transform over extended periods of time was as a primary conceptual determinant of each project.27 The architect or landscape architect constructs the site as infrastructure in ways that can later be altered by others and that comes to fruition over time.
Relatedly, Kenneth Frampton has encouraged architects to "cultivate the site" through design and construction in such a way as to uncover dormant narratives and strategies.28 Taking the point further, Miwon Kwon challenges that site specific strategies can be reactive of existing site conditions and thereby "generative of [new] identities and histories."29 With both, the site is being re-thought more in terms of process; less as a physical place, and more as the site of past events and potential futures rendered architecturally.

A consideration of time suggests an impoverishment in the way we understand sites in relation to projects. When sites are considered to be something more than a location awaiting a project, we are confronted more clearly with the quality of open-endedness and incompleteness that accompanies any completed project. It suggests a sense of humility and the need to design with change in mind in a way that can actively accommodate future growth. Lastly, it clarifies the point that places are formed over time and in time a site is a process. In a sense, we are all working like Matta-Clark who approached his later commissions with the full knowledge that the buildings he had been granted access to were scheduled to be demolished. Places are formed over time; they are a part of a process.

Conclusion: Constructing New Paradigms of Site


The works considered here are, quite literally, site projects -- projects concerned specifically with the issue of constructing or marking site. They offer provocative ways to re-think the role of the site in architecture. By folding the concept of site into the concept of project -- by making the site either a part of or the object of the project -- new associations between these terms emerge. When site and project are construed as elements of a dialectic, we are freed to re-examine and/or re-energize the relationship one shares with the other. For Michael Heizer, "the work is not put in a place, it is that place."30 Along similar lines, landscape historian Marc Treib proposed the phrase “inflected landscapes” as a way to think of art, architecture, and landscape projects that, like Heizer's, share a formally and conceptually blurred relationship to their site.31 For Treib the process through which the landscape is inflected is an act of transforming the site rather than one of new construction. In terms of site specificity one might argue that what indeed lacks specificity is neither the site nor the project, but rather the relationship between the two.

To challenge these traditional presumptions is to summon in our imagination new realms of opportunity for architecture: more than an empty lot awaiting building, the site is a prospect for intervention -- ephemeral or permanent, fixed or mobile, received or chosen, marginal or central, physical or virtual, real or fake. Within these conceptions of the site there is a potential richness for architectural design. To conceive of the site as being a part of architecture is to more fully take charge of the formulation of architectural interventions, and to take initiative in actively shaping the built environment.
To suggest that the site is the project does not question the primacy of site in architecture. Rather, to construct the site is simultaneously to recognize the immutability of the site/project relationship and raise the possibility of expanding this relationship. Within this framework, the site remains the foundation upon which any project established, but it is this very foundation that becomes the subject of critical inquiry.

Notes
1. Miwon Kwon, “One Place After Another: Notes on Site Specificity”, October 80 (1997): 108.
2. Robert Smithson, “Toward the Development of an Air Terminal Site”, Artforum 6/10 (1967). Reprinted in Nancy Holt, ed., The Writings of Robert Smithson (New York: New York University Press, 1979), p.47.
3. Carol J. Burns, "On Site: Architectural Preoccupations," in Andrea Kahn, ed., Drawing, Building, Text: Essays in Architectural Theory (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1991), p. 165.
4. Ibid, pp. 149, 155.
5. Further, such designations as "this is the project site" construct or frame the site in terms of specific relationships to other known places ("the site is near your house"), accepted systems of measure and orientation ("the site is located at the corner of Allen Street and Victoria Place"), intentions ("this is the site where we are planning to build"), or events ("the site for your project is also where my bicycle was stolen last year").
6. Marc Treib, "Traces Upon the Land: The Formalistic Landscape", in Architectural Association Quarterly 4 (1979): 37.
7. Robert Smithson, “The Spiral Jetty”, in Gyorgy Kepes, ed., Arts of the Environment (New York: G. Braziller, 1972). Reprinted in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, p.115.
8. Robert Smithson, “The Symposium”, in Earth (Ithaca: Andrew Dickson White Museum, 1970). Reprinted in Holt, ed., The Writings of Robert Smithson, p.160.
9. Dennis Wheeler, “Four Conversations between Dennis Wheeler and Robert Smithson”, in Eugenie Tsai, ed., Robert Smithson Unearthed- Drawings, Collages, Writings (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991), pp.112-113.
10. Ibid, p. 112.
11. Liza Bear and Willoughby Sharp, “Discussions with Heizer, Oppenheim, Smithson”, Avalanche 1/1 (1970). Reprinted in Holt, ed., The Writings of Robert Smithson, p.177.
12. The idea that the site is received is discussed in Burns, “On Site: Architectural Preoccupations”, p.149.
13. Pamela Lee, Object to Be Destroyed -- The Work of Gordon Matta-Clark (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000), pp. 72-73.
14. In addition to experiencing light from the sun, the moon, and the stars, Turrell was interested in celestial vaulting, a phenomenon that aviators experience at high altitudes where the concavity of the sky appears to be inverted.
15. Peter Noever, ed., James Turrell -- The Other Horizon (Ostfildern-Ruit: HatjeCantz, 2001), p.12.
16. Gilles Tiberghien, Land Art (New York: Princeton architectural Press: 1995), p. 104.
17. In the case of many earthworks there are no road signs or readily-available directions and the projects do not appear on most road maps, thus making access difficult and the location seem even more remote. The idea is pushed to extremes in Walter de Maria’s “Lightning Field” and James Turrell’s “Roden Crater” (once completed) in which the potential viewer must relinquish all control in accessing the works: the visitor is picked up, driven to, and dropped off at the site for extended periods of time (one or several days), during which one is literally confined there.
18. Jeffrey Kastner, “Land Acquisition 2: Queens County, New York”, Cabinet 10 (2003): 106. The exact dimensions of each parcel are provided.
19. Dan Carlinsky, “Silver Buyers Have a Field Day at City Sales”, New York Times, 14 October 1973, Real Estate sec., pp. 1, 12. Reprinted in Lee, Object to be Destroyed, p.103.
20. Lee, Object to be Destroyed, p.104.
21. Matta-Clark was part of the short-lived “Anarchitecture” group (1973), a loose association of New York City artists interested in architecture.
22. Burns, "On Site: Architectural Preoccupations," p.147.
23. Lucy Lippard, Overlay: Contemporary Art and the Art of Prehistory (New York: Pantheon Books, 1983). Reprinted in Tiberghien, p.102.
24. Liza Bear and Willoughby Sharp, “Discussions with Heizer, Oppenheim, Smithson”, Avalanche 1/1 (1970). Reprinted in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, p.175.
25. Smithson’s “Spiral Jetty” and “Partially Buried Woodshed” come to mind, as do Dennis Oppenheim’s “Ice Cuts” and Michael Heizer’s desert excavations like “Double Negative”.
26. Burns, “On Site: Architectural Preoccupations”, p.164.
27. For a discussion of the “Downsview Park” competition, see Julia Czerniak, ed., Case: Downsview Park Toronto (Munich: London: Prestel, 2001). For a discussion of the “Fresh Kills” competition, see Amanda Reeser and Ashley Schafer, eds., Praxis 4: Landscapes (New York: Praxis Inc., 2002).
28. Kenneth Frampton, “Toward a Critical Regional Regionalism”, in Hal Foster, ed., The Anti-Aesthetic (Port Townshend, Washington: Bay Press, 1983). Reprinted in Miwon Kwon, “One Place After Another: Notes on Site Specificity”, p.108.
29. Kwon, “One Place After Another”, p.108.
30. Liza Bear and Willoughby Sharp, “Discussions with Heizer, Oppenheim, Smithson”, Avalanche 1/1 (1970). Reprinted in Holt, The Writings of Robert Smithson, p.171.
31. Marc Treib, “Inflected Landscapes”, in Places 1/2 (1984): 66-77.

Perception itself gives rise to the term “landscape,” which literally means the portion of land that the eye can comprehend in a single view.
Carol Burns, On Site: Architectural Preoccupations


On Wednesday, December 17, 2008, I strapped a small Flip Video camera to the front of my courier bag and, for over an hour, wandered anonymously around Dundas Square in Toronto during the busy holiday shopping season. Beginning and ending at the second-floor food court above the AMC movie theater, moving up and down escalators, from inside to outside, meandering from one store to another, I observed the sales staff, shoppers, and the passersby. Because my camera was hidden from view with only the eye of the lens peeking out, I was able to wander and surreptitiously record these interactions—the world as seen from a spot six inches below my chin.

The modern fascination with recording any and all aspects of one's life might make the resulting film unremarkable in every respect: with cheap technology like smart phone cameras and a variety of social media outlets such as YouTube and Facebook, it seems as if no event, however small, is immune to the publicity of the Web, and that anyone can fancy themselves an author or filmmaker.



Recently, the Swiss landscape architect Christophe Girot has begun to codify the use of short, student-made films as part of a process of site exploration in design studios. In doing so, Girot references a rich tradition from the late 1960s and 70s in which artists used film and cinematic photography to explore sites and document built work. Best known among these are Ed Ruscha's 25-foot-long photographic montage Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966), and the experimental film Région Centrale (1971), for which the Canadian artist Michael Snow rigged a camera that could freely pivot 360 degrees in every direction to document a deserted mountainous landscape in Northern Quebec. With a few notable exceptions during this time period, however, the medium of film and/or video has enjoyed remarkably little use in the field of design. For the seminal Learning from Las Vegas (1968), architects Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour strapped a camera to the hood of their car to document the visual experience of driving at medium speed along the Vegas strip. Venturi referred to these montages as "Ed Ruscha" elevations, highlighting the crossover potential of Ruscha's seminal project for architects and landscape architects.



It is plain to see why Ruscha's conceptual discipline in approaching the documentation of the Sunset Strip would appeal to designers: as in a landscape inventory, the incorporation of the word "Every" in the title functions as both a ground rule for the project and characterizes its formal result. The flatness of the two street elevations suggests that the artist was shooting at a consistent distance from, and parallel to, the building facades, allowing the images to be easily assembled: the resulting work functions more like an orthographic section or elevation like those found in a set of design drawings. In a recent interview, Ruscha offered that he had rephotographed the Strip several times since, evoking obsessive themes and concerns that often appear time and again in many designers' work.



Borrowing from Ruscha, Venturi, Scott Brown, and others, my goal in approaching Dundas Square was not simply to use film as medium of site exploration, but also to tap into the unique potential that might come from combining the disciplinary rigour of traditional filmmaking with that of drawing and design thinking. Bernard Tschumi's repetitive diagrams and perspectives for the Manhattan Transcripts (1981) constitute a good example of this hybrid approach to representation, since they enhance the traditional stillness and immobility of drawing through the dynamic, transformative prism of film. Tschumi's splicing of individual diagrams into linear strips read as if they might have been taken from a film spool, each new frame a minute transformation from the previous illustration.



Following a similar, cross-disciplinary approach, I felt that the original footage generated by walking around the Square should serve not as an end product, but as a point of departure. From the film I extracted a series of squared-off, photographic stills (1 frame per 30 seconds) that could then be used in the making of new analytical drawings. Because the same 144 stills were used to produce three different arrangements, the montages could be easily compared and cross-referenced: in the most conventional arrangement, they appear in a line, from left to right, recalling the chronology of the original film (stills on the left represent the beginning of the film, and so on). The other representations function like familiar drawing types: in a second variation, the same chronological sequence is preserved but the frames shift up and down in groups so as to reference the sectional levels around the square. In the most expansive montage, the stills are arranged into an imaginary grid so as to form a geographically correct (yet somewhat abstracted) map of Dundas Square and adjacent streets, buildings, and interior spaces.

One of the subtler features in Ruscha's crossover, disciplinary appeal is his use of text annotations similar to those that might be found in design drawings. These do not simply inform the photographs in a basic sense of helping to identify individual building addresses and cross streets; they also provide a discrete visual structure to the work as well. Further, the deliberate folding of the photographic montage into a book-sized accordion suggests dueling meters (the page and the photographic frame), recalling a rhythmic cadence typical of complex spatial organization.

Similarly, the original photographic footage is transformed using a range of annotative techniques, recalling not only design drawings but concerns specific to landscape. Throughout the montages, for example, photos are lightened to represent indoor sequences along the walk. Images are cropped into squares so they can be more easily arranged vertically and laterally into lines and fields. Further, a series of visual cues (text, lines, tick marks, etc.) establish key references such as streets, major stores, even a time stamp. In this way, these representations function both as drawings and cinematic renderings, borrowing from both fields equally to form new, hybrid techniques of site exploration. Because they employ the same images, no single drawing establishes an authoritative whole. Instead, different versions of the same story emerge: like the flâneur, the reader can move back and forth between these representations, their experience and understanding of the square enhanced.


Reminiscent of Times Square in New York or Shibuya in Tokyo, Dundas Square in Toronto presents an arresting barrage of visual publicity. Every vertical surface in the square is put to use to display corporate advertisements. Photographs above document the character of some of the eye-level information (5’ to 7’ above plaza grade) available to passers-by. By systematically transcribing into a written list- independently of their size, location, color, associated imagery- each of the hundreds of densely aggregated messages in Dundas Square (roughly 4,000 words in all), this deliberately reductive analysis seeks to measure the overall impact of information within the site: here, the mundane coexists with the highly visible on equal terms.






The Toronto Western Waterfront is a thin, 4k long slice of land sandwiched between the shores of Lake Ontario and a 23 lane corridor of transportation infrastructure including the Gardiner Expressway west of downtown. This drawing examines the impact of experiencing the park at different speeds: “in drive”, as one of the 150 million annual commuters passing by the site, compared to only 1.5 million walking, skating or biking through the park itself.


Taken during an August, 2003, visit, my field photos of Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty have been included in a number of publications:

"Bijutsu Techo”, volume 66, no. 1005, June 2014, pp.20–21.

“Numéro” no 65, August 2005, pp.206-211.

Robert Smithson: Spiral Jetty (New York: Dia Center for the Arts, 2005), pp.42-45, 121.

“Bookforum”, December 04 / January 05. Cover.

Robert Smithson (Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2004), pp.96, 103.












Produced in the field while working at my own desk inside the building, these recordings of the GSD are meant to explore not only the built environment of the school but also the unique traditions of teaching and learning that characterize any architecture program.



The Desk Crit Map illustrates one such famiiar ritual: students sign up in advance for a crit time, and the instructor meets with students throughout the day in this particular order. This period of intense engagement with individual students is represented here through the eyes of the instructor, who threads together individual conversations in the order dictated by the sign up sheet.



Another well-known example are the all-nighters, or "charrettes", leading to a formal studio review. The term is derived from the carts used by students to haul their work hrough the streets of Paris from their studios to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts . It is said that students would work all the way up to the final deadline and could be seen furiously putting final touches to their drawings (typically, large scale watercolors and ink wash renderings) in the carts themselves, as classmates pulled the charrettes by hand through the busy streets. The term has endured across centuries to characterize short and intensive creative exercises in all fields of design. Given the open configuration of the studio spaces inside the GSD, this form of group migration from the studio space to the review space is easy for all to see.

Fall 2001


Spring 2006


Spring 2013


2012-2013


Spring 2007


Fall 2005


Spring 2005


Spring 2004


Fall 2003


Spring 2003


Fall 2002


Spring 2002


Fall 2001

2006-2007 holiday card

In recent years, my partner Lori and i have made an annual tradition of sending digital holiday greeting visuals to our friends and family. More recently, we've begun to make short films to substitute for our more traditional, "2-d" holiday greeting cards.





2009-2010 holiday card





2005-2006 holiday card





2010-2011 holiday card





2011-2012 holiday card
Our camera was permanently damaged following the making of this film.





2004-2005 holiday card





2012-2013 holiday card




2002-2003 holiday card




2003-2004 holiday card