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The Mission Church, Tumacacori NM: Architecture


This historic theme is concerned with the development and expression of building design within the present territory of the United States. It deals with the careers and works of leading architects, structures of outstanding value in design, the evolution of significant architectural styles, and structures richly representative of particular types or geographical regions. Also included is the field of urban design. Subthemes have approximate dates:

    A. Colonial (1600-1730)
    B. Georgian (1730-1780)
    C. Federal (1780-1820)
    D. Greek Revival (1820-1840)
    E. Gothic Revival (1830-1915)
    F. Romanesque Revival (1840-1900)
    G. Renaissance Revival (1810-1920)
    H. Exotic Revivals (1830-1860)
    I. Second Empire (1850-1890)
    J. Stick Style (1860-1890)
    K. Queen Anne-Eastlake (1880-1900)
    L. Shingle Style
    M. Period Revivals (1870-1940)
    N. Commercial (1890-1915)
    O. Sullivanesque (1890-1915)
    P. Prairie (1890-1915)
    Q. Bungalow (1890-1940)
    R. Craftsman (1890-1915)
    S. Wrightian (1887-present)
    T. Moderne-Art Deco (1920-1945)
    U. International (1915-1945)
    V. Historic District (multiple styles and dates)
    W. Regional and Urban Planning
    X. Vernacular Architecture
    Y. Rustic Architecture
Gateway Arch at Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial: Gateway Arch

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial is an example of a National Park Service unit that is representative of the Architecture historical theme. In 1947 the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Association, a group of public-spirited citizens, held a nationwide competition to obtain an appropriate design for the Memorial. The winner in the competition was the late Eero Saarinen, whose design was dominated by the now famous Gateway Arch.

Eero Saarinen, in designing the Arch, conceived of it in stainless steel, and asked Fred Severud to study its feasibility from the structural engineering point of view, again demonstrating the need for joining the skills of more than one discipline in order to create a project of this magnitude.

The stainless-steel-faced Arch spans 630 ft. between the outer faces of its triangular legs at ground level, and its top soars 630 ft. into the sky. It takes the shape of an inverted catenary curve, a shape such as would be formed by a heavy chain hanging freely between two supports.

Each leg is an equilateral triangle with sides 54 ft. long at ground level, tapering to 17 ft. at the top. The legs have double walls of steel 3 ft. apart at ground level and 7-3/4 in. apart above the 400-foot level. Up to the 300-foot mark the space between the walls is filled with reinforced concrete. Beyond that point steel stiffeners are used.

The double-walled, triangular sections were placed one on top of another and then welded inside and out to build the legs of the Arch. Sections ranged in height from 12 ft. at the base to 8 ft. for the two keystone sections. The complex engineering design and construction is completely hidden from view. All that can be seen is its sparkling stainless steel outside skin and inner skin of carbon steel, which combine to carry the gravity and wind loads to the ground. The Arch has no real structural skeleton. Its inner and outer steel skins, joined to form a composite structure, give it its strength and permanence.

The links below will take you to other NPS units which contain additional information regarding this historical theme. Following that are links to related materials, which will provide more detailed Web sites that discuss selected aspects of this historical theme.

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Last Modified: Tues, Nov 29 2005 08:47:54 am EDT

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