Architecture / Governmental / Hospitality / Sustainable

Mission Tejas Visitor’s Center


Mission Tejas State Park is located in Houston County, at the north end of the Davy Crockett National Forest. FPC’s current project is the park’s new visitor center, which incorporates meeting and interpretive spaces, offices, and restrooms. The new buildings focus on education and interpretation, including the project’s focus on environmentalism. The Civilian Conservation Corps built the Park and its commemorative mission in 1934, to memorialize Mission San Francisco de los Tejas. The park is also home to the Rice Family Log Home. The home was built near the El Camino Real in 1828, relocated to the park in 1973, and restored in 1974. The El Camino Real carried people from northwestern Louisiana, to San Antonio, and on to Mexico City. Original traces of the road can be seen at the park.

The new visitor center is divided into three buildings united by a single path. Building A houses restroom facilities open to the public 24 hours a day. Building B is dedicated to interpretive exhibits about the park and the El Camino Real. Building C contains the park store, administrative offices, and a research library. Building B provides views of the Rice Family Log Home, the forest, and the forest canopy.

One of the design goals for the project was to explore wood as a material and building techniques in a modern way. Known for its pine trees, the park has a long history with fire management. The park regularly has prescribed fires, and an interpretive area which describes the park’s former fire tower. FPC selected Shou Sugi Ban wood siding for the project as a modern way of interpreting this history of fire management. This historic wood burning technique makes the siding resistant to rot and insects, and less likely to ignite when exposed to flames.

Other environmental strategies include the use of structural insulated panels (SIP) for exterior walls and incorporating a reclaimed water system for collecting rain water for flushing toilets. The site design retains as many of the trees as possible and reuses the wood from those that must be taken down to construct site furniture.

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