Grand Portage State Park New Visitor Center

September 2010 - Construction on the new, fully accessible 5,800 square foot visitor center is complete! The final panels of the mural will be laid in place this week, and then everything will be ready for the grand opening celebration on Saturday, September 25, 2010. The new facility is beautiful, and serves double duty as both a Minnesota Department of Transportation highway rest area and the visitor center for the park. Travel information is available in the new center, as well as an exhibit hall showcasing the culture and traditions of the Grand Portage Band of Ojibwe, on whose land the park is located.

Layout of the mosaic turtle.Layout of the mosaic turtle.

Cultural Cornerstone (08/13/10): Eight-hundred-and-sixty-four pieces of very colorful tile arrived on site the second week of August. Workers spent two days doing a mock layout in preparation of actually laying the tile.

Slatework in the lobby is nearly finished

Lobby Slatework (05/05/10): In the lobby, the stone masons are nearly finished installing the native slate covering on the seven support columns, and all of the tile has been laid except for the turtle centerpiece.

Finishing touches going on the ceiling

Ceiling (05/05/10): The ceiling gets its finishing touches.

LED lighting has been installed around the sidewalks.

Night Lights (05/05/10): LED lighting has been installed around the sidewalks. These lights were specially selected to prevent light pollution, and virtually none of the light 'escapes' to contaminate the night sky.

Concrete sidewalks outside the main lobby entrance.

Concrete Walkways (05/05/10): All of the concrete sidewalks have been poured. This photo shows the walkways outside the main lobby entrance.

New sidewalk from the oversized vehicle parking lot.

New Sidewalk (05/05/10): The new sidewalk from the oversized vehicle parking lot.

Installing the metal roof

Roof (05/03/10): Beginning to install the metal roof on the new building.

Spring mural wall, primed and ready to be painted

Spring mural wall (05/03/10)

LED lights in parking area outside building

Exterior Lighting (05/03/10): LED lights are in place around the exterior of the new building.

The new sidewalk being prepped

Sidewalk (05/03/10): Preparing the sidewalk to the main entrance.

Ductwork goes in

Ductwork (05/03/10)

The lobby is taking shape

Looking Northwest across lobby (03/27/10): The lobby is starting to take shape, and the doors to the exhibit hall were installed this week.

New skylight over the lobby

New Skylight Over the Lobby (03/27/10): The skylight is approximately 14 feet in diameter. A water-jet-cut-tile turtle of the same size will be inlaid in the floor directly below. The turtle will be bathed in a soft, even light from the transluscent skylight, and will help interpret the creation story of the Ojibway people. It is interesting that the pattern on the skylight roughly resembles a dreamcatcher.

Looking East

East View (03/27/10): This is the view from the center of the exhibit hall, looking toward the East

view from the center of the exhibit hall

Looking South (03/27/10): This is the view from the center of the exhibit hall toward the rest area lobby. The nature store will be on the left.

View from the north

North View (03/12/10): This photo is taken from the north end of the exhibit hall in front of the big windows, looking toward the lobby at the south.

View from the south

South View (03/12/10): The view of the exhibit hall from the south, looking north toward the big windows.

view of the new garage

New Garage (03/12/10)

Exterior view of the new building from the south

View from the South (03/12/10)

The final roof trusses go up

Roof Trusses (03/12/10): The crane put the last of the roof trusses in after welding an additional foot of steel to the vertical supports.

Exhibit hall

Exhibit Hall (03/12/10): The new exhibit hall is bright and spacious.

New gift shop under construction

Gift Shop (03/12/10): The large area under the four beams will house the new interpretive exhibits, with a small gift shop and park offices on the right side of this scene.

The exhibit hall has a roof!

Exhibit Hall (03/12/10): Looking north from the edge of the lobby showing the closed-in roof over the exhibit hall.

Glue lams

Glue Lams (03/12/10): Looking south toward the lobby through the new exhibit room. Glued laminated structural timbers are stronger and stiffer than their solid wood counterparts, as well as being an efficient use of resources.

Entrance view

Entrance view (03/12/10): Looking north from Highway 61 toward the new visitor center. This new park entrance road will be west of the old entrance.

Foundation Preparation - Northeast

Foundation Preparation (09/09): The new visitor center is being built on a 'structural slab' that is laid on top of metal pilings. Over 200 cubic yards of concrete were poured for this foundation in September 2009. Here, workers lay rebar for the structure.


View from the Parking Lot (09/09): Visitors walking from the new parking lot will approach the building from the southeast and see this view.

gathering shelter

Gathering Shelter and Pigeon River (09/09): The structure for the 30-foot gathering shelter is ready.

Foundation Preparation - Southeast

Foundation Preparation (09/09): View from the Southeast end of the future welcome center.

gathering shelter

Conceptual Drawings for the new visitor center

gathering shelter

Conceptual Drawings for the new visitor center

gathering shelter

Conceptual Drawings for the new visitor center