President Theodore Roosevelt driving through the Wawona Tunnel Tree in Yosemite National Park on May 15, 1903 (part of the Doris A. and Lawrence H. Budner Theodore Roosevelt Photograph Collection).
Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.
Entwined in nature, our architecture aligns with conservation—the instinct to protect and preserve tracts of land, the desire to leave a legacy rooted in wilderness. Our work echoes with Theodore Roosevelt’s clarion call, and cherish we do by respectfully siting structures in situ and respectfully sourcing natural materials. Every mark we make on the built landscape reflects our respect for the natural landscape. A JLF house thus becomes an homage to cherished context. As architects, we encourage our clients to inhabit their conservation values.
As TR did by coining conservation as policy: Over the course of his presidency, Roosevelt established five national parks and 18 national monuments (including the Grand Canyon). He added 130 million acres of timberland to the federal forest reserves and created more than 50 wildlife sanctuaries. What’s more, he honored conflicting visions of the environment, as historian Steven Mintz explores in his introduction to “Taking Stock of Our Natural Resources: A Request from Theodore Roosevelt, 1908: “While some men, like Gifford Pinchot, the head of the U.S. Forest Service under Theodore Roosevelt, favored more efficient and rational management of natural resources, others, like the naturalist John Muir, who was the Sierra Club’s first president, were eager to preserve wilderness and wildlife for their own sake and prevent industrial development from despoiling nature’s beauty,” Mintz writes. “Roosevelt embraced both viewpoints. He sought to protect natural treasures as a cultural legacy for future generations even as he called on Americans to use natural resources less wastefully and more rationally and efficiently.”
As architects, we mirror Roosevelt’s embrace of both viewpoints: We model conscientious use of natural resources while simultaneously showcasing the profundity of preserving landscapes for future generations to enjoy. Through our architecture, we strive to establish legacies of lived conservation.