Contract Awarded for Auditorium Addition to Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center

Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center to Get Auditorium Wing

April 19, 2010
Acting Superintendent Bob Vogel announced today that Grand Teton National Park has awarded the contract for construction of an auditorium addition on the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center to a Utah-based contractor and construction company, Raass Brothers, Inc. To accomplish the project, Raass Brothers, Inc. will work with a co-contractor, R & O Construction, also of Utah. The Grand Teton National Park Foundation, a partnership organization of the park, pledged to fund 100 percent of the project costs. They are nearing that goal, making it possible to begin construction almost immediately. Completion of the auditorium addition is expected for spring 2011.

The Discovery Center’s addition will place a 154-seat auditorium on the south side of the building. The new auditorium room will include an architectural feature called a “glass curtain wall” that will reveal stunning views of the Teton Range at the completion of video programs and educational lectures. The Seattle office of the architectural firm, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, designed both the principal visitor center building and the auditorium wing.

Through the initial phases of design, the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center included an auditorium. However, as a result of constraints over the scope and budget of the project, the building was downsized and the auditorium was removed from the final plan. Subsequent approval to add the auditorium was obtained in mid 2007; because the new visitor center was nearly completed when the approval came through, the auditorium addition became a separate phase of the overall project.

The entire funding for the auditorium addition is being raised by the Grand Teton National Park Foundation; no federal funds are allocated for its construction. The main visitor center was financed through a combined public-private initiative with funding provided by the federal government, the Grand Teton Association and the Grand Teton National Park Foundation.

The Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center accommodates many visitor services: park orientation at a staffed information desk; educational experiences through traditional exhibits; innovative audio/visual displays; ranger-led programs at a state of the art topographic map and from a terrace with unobstructed views of the Tetons; and an art gallery with paintings and sculptures depicting Grand Teton and its wildlife. The facility also includes a bookstore—operated by the Grand Teton Association, the park’s cooperating partner—public restrooms and staff office and work spaces. The new auditorium space will provide versatility and flexibility for educational programs and special events such as lectures and community presentations.

“Construction of the auditorium addition allows the original vision for the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center to be realized,” said Acting Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Bob Vogel. “We appreciate the incredible fund-raising campaign orchestrated by the Grand Teton National Park Foundation. Their efforts will bring the primary building model to its intended design and function.”