Lewis & Clark Discovery Center

Hells Gate State Park, Idaho / 2003

Hells Gate State Park is located near the confluence of the Snake River and Clearwater River Canyons in Lewiston, Idaho. The client, The Idaho State Department of Parks & Recreation, needed to update their existing interpretive facility and provide a site that would enhance the telling of the “Lewis & Clark” story that depicted their journey from the point of the upper Clearwater River to the mid stretches of the Columbia River. This segment in history included the lengthy process of preparations for their passage into the Pacific Ocean. Activities incurred by the expedition during this transition included canoe building, shelter construction, and provision procurement with the help of local Native Americans.

The architect’s challenge was to include an interpretive setting both internally and externally that would educate visitors to the expedition’s experiences. The building needs to house park offices, camper registration and check-in, classrooms, video display rooms, a retail area, and public restrooms.

The design solution was formed by combining these three elements:

  • The river confluence
  • The Lewis and Clark story
  • The prominent landmark of Swallow’s Rock