Columbia Gorge Interpretative Center

Stevenson, Washington

How do we reflect the natural and cultural history of the Columbia River Gorge in a building?

Hugging a hillside with panoramic views of the Columbia Gorge, the Interpretive Center exhibits the natural and cultural history of the region.  The building was designed as part of the interpretive message and works with the exhibits as visitors explore the wonders of the Gorge.

The Interpretive Center is composed of two adjoining barrel-vaulted glass pavilions, resembling in scale the sawmills that once stood on the site in the early 20th century. Visitors enter through a portico reminiscent of railroad trestles in the area. A sculpted concrete wall, suggesting the basalt flows of the Gorge, moves into the Interpretive Center at the entrance and winds its way through the exhibit spaces. The wall runs the entire length of the building providing context and organizing elements of the interpretive message.

Year Completed:
24,000 sf
Project Contact:
Barbara Clement, AIA
Associate Partner, Market Lead

Northwest & Pacific Region AIA, Grand Award

Portland Chapter AIA, Award of Excellence

Entry Sequence
Across the Catwalk
Stone and Stairways
Exterior Perspective Sketch from 1993
Interior Experiential View


Located on a 70-acre site near the center of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, this simple, welcoming museum is dedicated to exhibiting the natural and cultural history of the region with honest materiality and openness to the landscape.