Painted Desert Community Complex Historic District

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Painted Desert Community Complex Historic District
Painted Desert VC NPS.jpg
Painted Desert Community Complex Historic District is located in Arizona
Painted Desert Community Complex Historic District
Location One Park Rd., Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
Coordinates 35°4′6″N 109°46′50″W / 35.06833°N 109.78056°W / 35.06833; -109.78056Coordinates: 35°4′6″N 109°46′50″W / 35.06833°N 109.78056°W / 35.06833; -109.78056
Architect Neutra, Richard; Alexander, Robert
Architectural style Modern Movement, International Style
Governing body National Park Service
NRHP Reference # 05000284
Added to NRHP April 15, 2005[1]

The Painted Desert Community Complex is the administrative center of Petrified Forest National Park. The community center includes administrative facilities, utility structures and National Park Service employee housing, planned by architects Richard Neutra and Robert Alexander as part of the Mission 66 park facilities improvement program. Work on the community began in 1961 and was completed by 1965. The complex contrasts with earlier Park Service architecture that sought to blend with the environment. The Painted Desert community used straight manufactured materials that deliberately draw a contrast with the natural environment.

The most significant building is the Painted Desert Visitor Center, designed as a severely modernist structure that includes administrative offices., a visitor center, an auditorium, a clinic and staff apartments. Other structures include a community center, school and a Fred Harvey Company concession building.[2]

Neutra and Alexander paid particular attention to the division of the complex into public and private areas, using low walls to divide the Park Service service area from the central zone, and setting the inward-facing residential areas at a distance. Pedestrian circulation paths are used as defining organizing elements.[3]

The original landscape design used non-native plants that required regular watering. Removal of irrigation caused these plants to die, altering the landscape.[3]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15. 
  2. ^ "Painted Desert Visitor Center, Admin, & Apartments". List of Classified Structures. National Park Service. 2008-11-26. 
  3. ^ a b Rodd Wheaton and Dawn Bunyak (December 16, 2004). National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Painted Desert Community Complex Historic District PDF (5.29 MB). National Park Service.