Wednesday, March 25, 2015

LAR560 Meeting with Herb Kupfer of the NPS/GSMNP (03.25.15)

I really didn’t know much about the National Park Service, so Kupfer’s information and down-to-earth enthusiasm was incredibly refreshing and educational. I really enjoyed hearing about his work in Denver and his work with the transportation division piqued my interest as well. As I have been on Newfound Gap Rd before when visiting the mountains, I found it very interesting to hear about the challenges they faced in implementing infrastructural changes while attempting to preserve existing structures along the Foothills Parkway.

Although the idea of working with federal road projects seemed daunting, the fact that the work was designed by consultants is interesting to me. The citizen-engagement aspects with public meetings and in-person awareness meetings are valuable tools, in my opinion, for doing such public-facing projects. I really found the concept of having to build ninety-two bridge segments in less than ideal circumstances incredibly compelling. Kupfer’s humor and openness about his experiences with the Federal Lands Transportation Program (and with “Bigfoot” especially) were very eye-opening. I feel like sometimes we as young, enterprising professionals forget about these types of programs because they are primarily more engineering-based. It was very enlightening to hear Kupfer talk about his LEED experience and how he used his skillset to shape his design process and to troubleshoot potential blunders that might have occurred had they consulted with someone who did not have an appreciation for historical structures or the knowledge of sustainable practices.

While I don’t know if I would ever have to desire to work on such projects, I find the work that the NPS does is very admirable and I imagine, very difficult, as well. 

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