Reimagining Minute Man National Historical Park Visitor Center Landscape: Landscape Design and Preservation Studio

The Landscape Design and Preservation Studio introduces students to design in the context of a historical landscape. It provides an introduction to documenting sites to inform design, developing concept proposals, and exploring design techniques and modes of representation. This recurring studio class engages Boston University students from the College of Fine Arts, the Architectural Studies concentration and Preservation Studies, and collaborates with organizations that manage the project site.

This sample shows material of undergraduate students’ studio work to reimagine the Battle Road visitor center landscape experience at Minute Man National Historical Park, Lincoln, MA. Minute Man is located sixteen miles outside of Boston, Masschusetts and is the site where the first battles of the American Revolution (1775–1783) took place.

In the early morning of April 19th, 1775, Paul Revere, William Dawes, and Samuel Prescott rode to Concord to alert colonial soldiers of the British troops’ impending advance. After Revere was captured in Lincoln, the first shot of the American Revolution was fired on the Lexington town green, shortly followed by another skirmish at North Bridge in Concord.  British troops began to retreat back to Boston, commencing an 18-mile-long running battle along the route that is now known as Battle Road. Following this first conflict, the American Revolution continued until the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783.

Minute Man National Historical Park was established in 1959 to preserve and interpret the historic sites and structures that set the scene for the first armed battle of the American Revolution. The Visitor Center in the Battle Road Unit was designed as part of the master plan for the Bicentennial celebration of the battle, though it did not open until a year later in 1976.

As park management prepares for the upcoming 250th anniversary of the battle in 2025, this studio was conducted within the context of a contemporaneous revitalization of the landscape at the Battle Road visitor center. The Battle Road Unit is defined by its location within the routes of Battle Road, a historic colonial highway, and Route 2A, a commuter road that traverses the landscape. Since the development of modern infrastructure and the neighboring Hanscom Air Force Base, the historic site has been burdened by traffic, noise, and other types of pollution.

Almost half a century later, the postwar modernist Visitor Center and its surrounding landscape could be reassessed in order to better serve the functions and demands of new cultural and technological conditions. In thinking about the role of Minute Man today, studio participants focused on reinforcing the historical significance of the battle while remaining inclusive of the site’s comprehensive history before and after the year 1775.

Thirteen participating students, with academic backgrounds ranging from architecture to painting to biology, offered an assemblage of design proposals that seek to enhance the sense of place and interpretation of history through the visitor experience.

The land was inhabited since time immemorial by indigenous tribes and near the visitor centre a site is recognized as an early contact site. Remnants of the changes to the landscape by early European colonizers can be found in the land. As the Puritans established towns and eventually sought independence from Britain, they developed the land for agricultural and residential use, constructing buildings, fences, and stone walls.

By the time Minute Man National Historical Park was established in 1959, most agricultural land was abandoned and historical structures were demolished. The National Park Service has since worked to restore ecosystems, remove modern structures, and preserve historical sites.

Though the existing landscape has been drastically altered over the course of time by changes in human activity, the site provides opportunities for design interventions that preserve natural and historical functions and enhance interpretation.

Proposals were prepared for the landscape between the car park and the visitor center, and for the landscape between the visitor centre and the historic Battle Road. After team work by the students to analyze landscape characteristics for the wider site, the students developed individual proposals for their selected site in the landscape.

By studying and reading the historic landscape they uncovered its meanings and inspiration for design ideas. The studio emphasized presenting a spatial experience and narrative that reflects the site’s significance.

The proposals by the students take into consideration a variety of landscape characteristics, as well as multiple aspects of the site’s history, to reinterpret the park from contemporary perspectives. The combined work by all students offers an overview of various aspects of the site and design opportunities.


The material presented is the work of Angela Chao, Changyan Weng, Cristian Maldonado, Elizabeth Jones, Grace Dube, Laura Dammann, Lucy Xia, Nic Rowe, Sarah Zureiqat, Sohyoung Park, Tori Nicoletti, Zander Heaston, and Zorka Zsembery. The course instructor was Jan Haenraets, Preservation Studies Program, Boston University.

The studio is particularly grateful to Margie Coffin Brown, Integrated Resources Program Manager at Minute Man, for providing guidance and resources throughout the design process.
Special thanks to our panel of reviewers for the pinups: Simone Monteleone, Margie Coffin Brown, Patrice Todisco, Anas Soufan, and Aaron Ahlstrom.

Our thanks to our colleagues at the College of Fine Arts & College of Arts, and Sciences; School of Visual Arts; Architectural Studies; and Preservation Studies. The studio received funding for the field trip from Boston University’s Virginia Sapiro Academic Enhancement Fund, and for the Workbook development from the Preservation Studies Program.

The workbook design and layout with all student proposals was created by Grace Dube and Sarah Zureiqat.

We welcome everyone to explore the studio material. When reusing parts we recommend this citation:
Jan Haenraets, Grace Dube and Sarah Zureiqat (eds.). “Reimagining the Battle Road Visitor Center Landscape Experience at Minute Man National Historical Park.” Student Workbook, Landscape Design and Preservation Studio, Spring 2022, Boston University.