Grand Canyon's Watchtower

 

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

National Park Service - US Department of the Interior

Historic Preservation Program


Architect Mary Colter's goal was to build a structure that provides the widest possible view of Grand Canyon yet harmonizes with its setting,  when the Fred Harvey Company hired her in 1930 to design a gift shop and rest area at Desert View. Colter's answer was the Watchtower.

A perfectionist, Colter scrutinized every detail, down to the placement of nearly every stone. Each stone was handpicked for size and appearance. Weathered faces were left untouched to give the tower an ancient look. With a lavish, highly publicized dedication ceremony, the Watchtower opened in May 1933.

 


W | A Associates was part of a team effort to investigate this historic structure in Grand Canyon National Park for structural stability, and evaluate the conditions of construction and damages. Investigation was performed, including materials of the building envelope, and accessible structural elements. Evaluation also included limited review of original project construction drawings to identify original materials, observe structural framing, and areas of change to the original construction that may impact the structural integrity of the building.