Mission Revival: Reimagining The San Xavier Mission Del Bac’s Relationship With the Land and its Community
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractLocated in the Sonoran Desert ten miles southwest of Tucson, Arizona is Mission San Xavier Del Bac, a Franciscan mission and pilgrimage site that hosts hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. Founded by Spanish missionary Father Eusebio Kino in the late 17th century, the Mission has a storied history of intercultural trade and working relationships between the Native Tohono O’odham people and Spanish settlers. In the O’odham language, the mission is called “where the water runs in” in reference to the nearby Santa Cruz River. Historically, it ran year-round and was the catalyst for agricultural development in the area, but due to repeated human intervention is now primarily a dry bed. Today, the mission is an active parish that has achieved National Historic Landmark status and National Register designation. All of these factors culminate in a historic preservation project with intricate contextual layers that must be balanced and sensitively considered, which leads to critical questions throughout the process: What was the landscape like before and after various stages of human impact? Are there historic features that can be restored and preserved? If so, should they be? Ultimately, this project seeks to answer these questions through the lens of responsive site design both at the Mission and the surrounding Reservation landscape. The story of this land is a significant one, and this project seeks to accomplish how best to share it.