Visitor Center Rehabilitation & Expansion
National Park Service
Wisdom, MT

Size: 3,800 SF

Construction Cost: $1 Million

Facility includes a museum.

Wood Harbinger designed a new sprinkler system.

Project is located 12 miles from the nearest fire station.

Project complied with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).


Wood Harbinger provided mechanical, electrical, and fire protection design for the restoration of the Big Hole National Battlefield Visitor Center. The 3,800 SF visitor center was built in 1964 and houses a museum, small auditorium, book store, information desk, and park offices.

This project provided fire sprinklers, a new roof that accommodates the climate conditions, and an efficient heating and cooling system. The building did not have sprinklers and was located 12 miles from the nearest fire station. To reduce the risk of a catastrophic fire, Wood Harbinger designed an automated fire suppression system to help protect the building. A pre-action sprinkler system was used in the museum to help protect the rare and sensitive exhibits. The pre-action valves are activated by the high heat from a fire, and allow water to flow into the sprinkler piping system. The water is only released from the heat-activated sprinkler heads.

The museum’s roof was a tipi design with unusual angles and valleys which blocked the snow and ice, causing it to accumulate. This created leaks and allowed the snow and ice to fall off the roof perimeter onto the sidewalks. The roof was redesigned as a pitched metal roof with dormers that eliminates leaks. The new roof system prevents the buildup of snow and also accommodates the addition of the 200 SF entry vestibule and the 550 SF hallway.

The vestibule provides a climate-controlled entrance and is connected to the hallway. The hallway has heat exchanger tubes in the south facing wall that absorb solar heat and release it to the hot water radiators to increase efficiency.

Wood Harbinger also designed a more efficient, cost-effective cooling system. The air conditioning unit was retrofitted with a factory purchased economizer section which included a barometric relief damper. The vestibule and hallways help to shade the inner portion of the building from solar heat gain.

Wood Harbinger worked with the Owner and park staff to integrate sustainable elements and systems throughout the planning and design process. This project is designed to comply with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and to use EPA-designated products.

Wood Harbinger provided designs for:

  • A 100% outside air economizer with controls for an existing air conditioning unit;
  • Hot water heat recovery systems;
  • Underground ducts and manholes;
  • A pre-action fire sprinkler system complete with a pump building and an underground water storage tank large enough to accommodate the future vehicle barn;
  • Automatic-lighting controls; and
  • Analog addressable fire detection system.