C&O Canal Headquarters & Visitor Center
National Park Service/MEDCO: Williamsport, MD
The C&O Canal National Historic Park headquarters was relocated from a remote site to anchor a historic canal town, resulting in a community asset in the central region of the 184-mile C&O Canal. JPA provided MEP for the new, 22,000-SF HQ which provides both visitors and NPS staff with offices, meeting rooms, and visitor resources spaces. Transforming a former industrial lumber mill site, the new facility is sited and organized to create a public plaza with canal views framed by historic storefronts along the town’s main street. The design incorporates modern and high-performance systems while optimizing relationships to the surrounding historical context. The visitor’s experience is enhanced by a dialogue between history and present day. Extending beyond the project site, the design enhances connection and accessibility to the interpretive historic landscape and extensive trail system. The transformed site becomes a destination for visitors and locals alike, communicating the NPS’s commitment to the sustainability of the canal, trails, and community. The project adhered to requirements from multiple jurisdictions, review agencies, Section 106 Compliance, and the NPS.
Architect: Ziger | Snead Architects
Project Photography: Karl Connolly