The Tubac Presidio State Park Master Plan builds on the final conceptual plan to create a dynamic, educational and interpretive site that acknowledges and includes the needs of a variety of users. The main mission of the Tubac Presidio State Park is preserved and enhanced, while acknowledging the park’s dual role as both a site for preservation and historic preservation while also providing recreational amenities for the surrounding community. This is accomplished by dividing the park into two sections. The first part is the historic Tubac Presidio State Park is the first section. It houses all of the buildings listed on the National Register, many of the archaeological remains, the visitor’s center, and the museum. The second section is the public, community-oriented side of the park, with a proposed community center and varied picnic areas available to the public. It also creates a defined parking lot and interpretive pavilion for the historic De Anza trail trailhead on the site, identifying this area as a destination for those who wish to travel along some length of the trail.
This design proposes a significant change of the entry sequence to the park, thus providing a more prominent introduction to the area. Taking advantage of its location at the end of a long street, tall signage is proposed to create a sense of identity, and to help visitors to Tubac be aware of the park as a destination. Another destination point is created at the corner intersection of Calle Iglesia and Burrell Street, serving as a pedestrian entrance but also as another landmark for the surrounding area. Entry gardens link the two spaces and lead visitors into the heart of the park, creating an oasis and an enticement. Microbasins gather water runoff from the surrounding village of Tubac, providing supplementary irrigation for the entry gardens as well as an effective demonstration of water harvesting techniques. Visitors to Tubac can leave with a better understanding of the deserts and this community without even having to visit the Tubac Presidio.
The main destinations of the historic portion of the park are preserved in place, and the majority of the historic objects are preserved in the proposed historic portion of the site. New interpretive areas are created in the spaces between these historic destinations, creating an interpretive whole that incorporates existing as well as proposed exhibits. The most prominent change in this area of the park is the newly interpreted presidio remains. Although the remains themselves are below the ground, and can be accessed from the underground viewing station, a strongly delineated illustration of the presidio is created on the ground plane with Cor-Ten steel edging and varied rock textures and colors. Currently this affect is achieved by an outline of small rip-rap boulders, and this proposal builds off of the current interpretive efforts to create something more accessible, permanent, and easy to understand. The images of the presidio drawn upon the ground will also be easy to maintain. Plantings along the edges are low-lying and will not impede a visitor’s view of the presidio, while shade trees are planted along the outside edges to still offer shade and comfort to visitors.
There are a number of dedicated gardens throughout the park that offer the visitor a chance for engagement, appreciation, and understanding as they move throughout the site. A heavy tree canopy provides shade and cooling for visitors, as well as creating a visual screen for the surrounding urban context, bringing the visitor’s attention and focus back to the immediate surroundings. These areas are designed to highlight specific attributes in the park. A water wise garden demonstrates water capturing techniques and appropriate plantings, which can be implemented in a home garden. A wildflower and pollinator garden showcases the beauty of native wildflowers and interprets the importance of attracting pollinators, especially in the desert. A series of heritage gardens surround many of the historic buildings on the site, creating fuller interpretive environments that can viscerally connect the visitor with a sense of the past. These gardens can be designed, implemented, and maintained easily by park volunteers, giving them a sense of agency and responsibility in the park, which serves to reinforce the volunteer effort, especially important in this state park. A heritage orchard, planted with fruit stocks descended from or brought over by the Spanish padres, sits adjacent to the historic Rojas House, recreating a more recent Sonoran-style housing complex. More complex gardens are proposed in other areas, interpreting specific areas of interest, such as the evolution of agricultural techniques in the Tubac area.
The buildings placed on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as the excavated presidio ruins, and the Presidio Museum, all remain on the newly partitioned historic side of the park. The community center defines the public access area of the park, creating separated parking facilities, easy accessibility to the proposed community center, as well as access to the newly created De Anza Historic Trail interpretive pavilion. Beyond these facilities are picnic areas of varying sizes to accommodate a wide variety of users. This trail also runs alongside several archaeological remnants that are within the bounds of the public area of the park, providing interpretive opportunities for casual visitors, and possibly enticing them into the historic park grounds next door.
This design creates different opportunities and experiences from one current park, expanding the mission and reach of the current arrangement to incorporate a wider variety of users and experiences.