The design, construction, or

modification of buildings and

facilities must reflect the

architectural character of the

region. Architectural character

grows from the following factors:

• Landscape setting and physical


• Traditions of indigenous cultures,

including early European settlers

and subsequent development.

• National and regional

architectural styles.


European settlers imported their

building traditions. For example,

New England’s early English

settlers imported the use of split

boards for siding (a response to

the shortage of timber in England)

to New England. In the mid-

Atlantic region, German settlers

who favored square-log house

construction in central Europe

(which had large forests to

support this construction)

continued to build with logs

in the new land.


Other settlers adapted to new conditions. In the

Southwest, the Spanish colonists combined their

architectural traditions with the adobe Pueblo

architecture that adapted so well to the desert.

In rainy Florida, the Spaniards developed a

waterproofing material called tabby, made from

a ground-up mix of lime and oyster shells.


Lacking such modern technologies as air

conditioning or earth-moving equipment, earlier

builders learned to work with the constraints of

each site. The results of their labors provide

valuable lessons for sustainability. For example,

they knew how to minimize site disturbance and

how to maximize natural heating and cooling.


The early built environments of the Forest Service

fit squarely within these cultural traditions.

When sited in remote locations, Forest Service

buildings were by necessity made from local

materials using local skills. As a result, log cabins

were erected in the mountains and adobe

structures in the Southwest.


Tested by time and proven to be utilitarian,

traditional designs continue to be suitable and

sustainable models for Forest Service structures.

The best traditional designs:

• Use locally available building materials.

• Respond to the climate.

• Work sensitively within the landscape setting,

taking advantage of solar orientation, shade

trees, prevailing breezes, and topography.

• Reflect the region’s culture. For example:

Elements of New England historical context are reflected in a New England architectural character. (Fig. 9)

Elements of North Pacific historical context are reflected in a North Pacific architectural character. (Fig. 10)


Issues to consider:

• What are the traditional building styles of

the region? Of the forest?

• What materials, colors, and building

techniques were traditionally used?

• Can these be adapted using modern building

techniques and materials?

• Does the design fit within the image, history,

and culture of the Forest Service?

• Where does the site fit into the Recreation

Opportunity Spectrum?



Chapter 3 Table of Contents

Reader’s Guide