By March 2011, the primary visitor station in Grand Canyon National Park will have a new addition–a 3,400-square-foot theater. The Grand Canyon Visitor Center on the South Rim is the primary contact station for many of the 5 million visitors who come to the park each year.
The 200-seat theater will host a new interpretive orientation film for the park, which will greatly improve the experience for visitors according to Chief of Interpretation and Education Judy Hellmich-Bryan. The visitor center also has new interpretive exhibits planned.
Eco-friendly features in the new building, which is being constructed by Loven Contracting Inc., of Flagstaff, Arizona, include an array of photovoltaic cells to offset electrical costs, and a water catchment system that will collect rainwater for irrigating plantings in the visitor center plaza.
The $2.35 million construction project is funded in part by Grand Canyon National Park entrance and usage fees. It’s part of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, which authorizes national park sites to reinvest a majority of these fees in projects that will enhance on-site visitor services.
Visitor impact during construction is expected to be minimal, although some walkways will be fenced off during construction, which is planned to start in late June 2010. The visitor center will remain open throughout the project with pedestrian detours set up as needed.