joshua tree california is now hitting it big time as the place to escape to that is artistic and affordable.  with the virus needing distancing, it is the happening place.

the downtown intersection of interstate hwy 62 with traffic barreling through, including miltary convoys with tanks,  to the largest marine base in the usa in 29 palms 15 miles away and  crossing park blvd the western gateway to joshua tree national park with 3 million visitors a year and growing is a lively place.

in recent years a number of death have occurred with people crossing the 120’ plus hwy.  which has art galleries and restaurants  on both sides of the hwy.  people driving from one side to the other to avoid crossing by foot.

the existing buildings of the fifties are bland and minimum,  in stark contrast to the natural beauty of the desert landscape .   so why not create a rock? was the suggestion by my  guru landscape architectural designer friend david teachout. 

bang, that is it.!!!   replace joshua tree with rock development.   like a rock skin that slowly engulfs the community to reclaim the ecological desert forms.


joshua tree rock junction is on public land that caltrans manages. at the intersection of hwy 62 main interstate east and west ( to the largest marine base in usa) and park blvd to joshua tree national park (3 millions visitors a year.)

designed to caltrans requirements.

the land owners can keep doing  their thing as desired or develop  additions to the rock theme on their property.

funded by private means.  a billionaire that wants to give back etc.

all corners have:              

  • bridges to adjoin corners saving lives
  • pedestrian ramp to 20’ hi bridges
  •  30’ wide bridges on hwy 62,    for entertainment, events, safe crossing,  leisurely crossing , etc.   120’ span
  • 20’ wide bridges park blvd.   60’ span
  • enclosed elevator, glass rear wall
  • toilet with shower,  (off grid solar and water)maintenance  and security room
  • 160’      hwy 62 hwy   to private property line
  • 20’ sidewalk, (expand into 8 block downtown as desired}
  • 30’ bike lane and parking,  
  • 5  12′ wide lanes of traffic, turning in middle lane, 30’ bike and parking, 20’ side walk,  =  180
  • park blvd. 80’  to private property line       
  • 10’ sidewalk,  12’  bike and emergency parking ,  3 lanes of traffic 12’ lanes, middle lane turning, 12’ bike and emergency parking 10’ side walk.

the structure is laid out on orthogonal grid with recycled telephone poles or equal.  design development next stage. 

compost toilets, cisterns for water collection of yearly flooding.  roman concrete, or organic mix etc.a

group community project seeking input of local citizens, politicians, artists, sculptors, designers, architects, planners, etc.

a fun safe place to interact and celebrate joshua tree.  

the inspiration to let private ownership of adjoining property to do their own rock theme thing.   mixed use of  housing, shops, offices,  pocket parks,  daycare,  gardens, clinics etc.   parking on grade.

a remodel of the community to be eco self suffient and user pedestrian friendly.  development is coming, so why not direct the development?


glen howard small      aia architect



  1. That is one of the ugliest things I have ever seen. I will fight any attempt to build this horrid monstrosity here in Joshua Tree, and I’m sure I will not be alone in my opposition.

    • It would make more sense to build an underground pass way that could have local artists’ work painted on the walls. Above ground is problematic due to high winds. But I would discount an overpass that would look cool and be in sync with our local vibe.

  2. I would so much rather this structure than any more dead bodies on the street because of people’s lack of respect for others. I recently moved to Morongo Valley and if I knew how much people absolutely ignored speed limits I would not have chosen this place to raise my children. I’m a former marine who was stationed on 29 and this area was not this abrasively arrogant and self serving a decade ago. If these people cared so much about how their neighborhoods looked, they’d have done more to clean up the homelessness in their area instead of running away from LA to be rude here. It seems this particular brand of person doesn’t like being given the choice and autonomy to make better decisions for their fellow man, so in this case, things should be done for the betterment of the tourists keeping this place afloat because the residents only have audacity and not compassion. Build the bridge, ignore these selfish and self righteous nasty and ugly people.

  3. I have lived here all my life…this is ugly! doesn’t look like rock it looks like human skin stretched over a wood frame!

    • hi Jessica,

      thank you for your comment.
      this is a rough model, and the materials i built it with were limited to what i could find. refining the design will make it more attractive.
      yes, it looks like skin stretched over a wood frame. but in reality the skin will be different than the paper used in the model. to be studied. the refined frame will be much smaller and the same color as the skin. thus the skin and frame will flow together.

      my intent was not to look like a solid rock, but use the forms and color of rocks prevalent in the area as visual inspiration to be harmony with the desert.

      if you look at the mountains immediately southeast of downtown joshua tree the outline of the ridge is similar. the color almost the same.

      glen howard small aia architect

  4. A Bridge would be nice and I voukd agree with that. That construction looks stupid and I will not allow our town to look stupid. Part of the charm of our little town is the fifty’s buildings. They are not ugly the murials and the art is just fine.Try enjoying the town without destroying our history and charm

  5. This is disgusting, I have lived here all my life and will fight this project. Leave this crap to big cities and leave us alone!

  6. thanks for all the comments

    the people i have shown the model in person love the design. maybe because they can stick their heads in the models to see how it would look and feel.
    i believe in universal beauty, and i know the public will love the looks.

    i do not share your love of the existing buildings that are not in harmony with the desert forms. this beautiful desert has been abused by man made ugly structures. that have no right to exist.

    i look forward to present this scheme in public and debating your concerns. i look at a situation and propose a soulution to solve the problem in a delighful way.

    you are welcome to do your own schemes.

    the people that have seen it in person think it is exciting and beautiful and love the practical aspect of creating a fantastic safe crossing that people will be drawn to and inspired by.

    i came out to joshua tree in 1952 and learned to drive in a world war ii jeap. so i am not a stranger to the community.. now living here for the last 6 years.

    people resist change, and as the recent dollar general indicates, big busness is coming.

    all of the joshua tree juction rock is on caltrans land, so no private owners will be involved.

    each corner has a ramp, elevator, stair and bathroom with shower and a maintence room.

    i am in the process of drawing the plans , elevations, and rendering of the outside and interior. what you now see is a rough model. so hopefully i might win a few of you people over when you see more.

  7. Glen I know how many years and how much time you’ve put into this project and concept. I trust in your sense of design and structure and think Joshua Tree would ultimately benefit from some of your artistry and originality. I think public art is, well, a very very difficult venture. Getting people to agree to aesthetics is one of the most difficult things I can think of. I appreciate and support the gifts you are trying to give this community.

    • thanks eva,

      i needed your comment, because i know you have the big picture vision of what really is important.

  8. To be great is to be misunderstood. You built our home and I trusted your design. I think most people are resistant to change. You have created a fun design with safety in mind as we have lost too many people crossing Highway 62. I hope people will consider your design and that funding could be found. Keep the faith!

  9. I love the elevated walkway concept and imagine it would make this high-traffic location a much nicer place to spend time. I also expect, if built the location will become more of a destination, even a bit of a town center. I expect it would be so nice to arrive at this location, park your car once, and be able to access all the stores nearby, even those on the other side of the busy road. Bravo Glen! Great design!

  10. Comment by Lee Scott
    Many great works of architecture, music and art were hated by their critics at first but went on to be considered praiseworthy. For example- Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Eiffel Tower -Parisiennes considered it so barbaric that even Americans wouldn’t build it, the premieres of the great works of Beethoven and Stravinsky were met with disgust and outrage. We need to imagine a Joshua Tree that reflects the magic and majesty of our park. If we don’t, corporate developers will make their own plan. Some were opposed to the Dollar General store. Next we will have a 99 Cent store, a Dollar Tree, Popeye’s and Pizza Hut. The future starts with imagination, without it we tend towards chaos. This project may never get built but at least it gets the discussion rolling. Bravo Glen Small!

  11. why are you deleting negative comments?
    you obviously do NOT care to hear what LOCALS want in their town.
    go crawl back under your rock.

    • hi gram parsons,

      i apologize about some of the comments being deleted. they have now have been put back on my blog.
      my blog man tim barnes is a cultured estemed architect with a vast amount communication skills, that found some comments rude and disgusting, not worthy of my blog. tim is all for dialogue and exchange of ideas, but rudeness he will not tolerate.



    Glen, I’ve studied your work along the Pacific Coast and overseas, as I have the work of many other architects and visionaries throughout the world. You’re not alone in being the subject of criticism, if anything this is a sign that you’re stirring the pot… and you’re doing something right. Sadly, the place you’re going to find your creativity stifled more than anywhere else is right here, your home country. Want to get ahead? With rare exceptions you must conform, stay in line, obey. I’m so glad you’ve pressed on, even at great financial and personal cost. You’re a brave man.

    The field where this straitjacket is more tightly cinched is architecture.

    It’s a sad state of affairs, really. We’ve become a pack of complacent sedentary beings, in body, but worst of all in the mind. We have no sense of adventure, instead living vicariously from one Netflix series to the other. We desperately want to climb into a Norman Rockwell painting with idyllic scenes of an artificial world designed to mask racism, reliance on fossil fuels, disrespect for nature, and an economy fueled by nearly slave labor here and abroad. Comfort food for the brain.

    The pioneering spirit that the US was known for is gone.

    Where is the rugged individualism we were known for? The sense of adventure? The creativity? The freedom? The critical thinking that gave us the airplane and put man on the moon? We don’t want to rock the boat, we want to feel safe, we want to wrap our kids in full body armor so they can ride their bicycle down the street to a friend’s house. On the sidewalk. With training wheels. We live in a world almost as if the Consumer Product Safety Commission controlled every aspect of life. We don’t want our sensibilities offended by people who think out of the box, by new ideas that challenge conformity.

    My dear friend once told me, “safe is sorry.”

    Nowhere is this longing for the past more prevalent than architecture. We’re led like sheep down the path of least resistance guided by products and methods designed to maximize profits: straight lines, square shapes, smooth flat slabs that do not challenge our sense of touch underfoot, smooth straight walls that do not scratch our sensitive skin, flat ceilings and level floors that are high enough and straight enough so we won’t bump our heads to distract us from our “smart” phones. Places designed to mimic Greek temples, Roman forts and Mediterranean villas; houses built out of 2×4 studs and stucco resembling adobe architecture, asphalt shingles designed to mimic thatched roofs from the English countryside, sheet metal roofing designed to mimic clay tiles.

    Incredibly, we call this “design.”

    But Dog forbid we let design be guided by the shapes and colors and textures of nature, designs that existed eons before and will exist eons after our brief and destructive existence on this planet is forgotten. Nature can be smooth but is also rough; undulating but jagged; smelling of lavender but also of armpits. All of it must be cherished and accepted, not masked. There is beauty in the texture of mud squeezing through our toes. We learn life hurts through death and pain. Valuable lessons. We scrape our knuckles in a rough stone but use it to scratch our back. And we live in a world (mis)guided by a Judeo-Christian concept of man over nature, not with —or part of— nature.

    Home Depot Ãœber Alles.

    George Bernard Shaw wrote, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

    Keep being the unreasonable man, Glen.

    And build the fucking bridge.


    Carlos Ovalle

    • What he said! Well put. I second your motion. And as a local, it is mortifying to read the rude, hateful posts of fellow locals.

    • hi carlos,
      you summed up the battle of the practical visionary that threatens the status quo. you the architect with the gift for meaningful serious gab. thank you for shraing in a positive way my friend.

      what i have are my ideas to better the world, an architect that proposes without financial compensation is not playing “money rules the world” game.

      nature knows that as well, and we need to do our part to respect and nuture the planet. as this project is refined and implemented, may it be a token gesture to inspire a bigger scale to be in harmony with the world.

      glen howard small aia architect

  13. I think the project is wonderful, intelligent and fitting for the site.
    If it could be realized, beyond the model stage, it would transform the whole city, the feeling of the desert buildings from now on.
    It is responding to the needs and the aesthetic needed so badly.

    Keep designing,

  14. I dislike the idea of a pedestrian bridge. I do not think it is feasible and do not think it would improve pedestrian safety or circulation. I do NOT think there is any aesthetic value in this proposal, and I wonder who is going to finance it and step up for the forever maintenance issues it will present. Please take your “concept” far away from here.

    • hi celeste,
      we have not talked in a long time, but when we talked in 2016 you seemed like a reasonable person.
      your opinion is not shared by numerous artistic, joshua tree residents, and visitors.
      are you still in the mountain climbing gear business?
      if the project was privately funded, endowed for maintenance and security. would you still oppose having it? it sounds like you would be negative. how can you be won over? as stated in this proposal it is way beyond just a pedestrian bridge. it will bring delight and safety for the community and visitors. plus have a green eco footprint.

      dan sturgis that is a vehicle expert and renowned consultant on transportation said with his comment: I love the elevated walkway concept and imagine it would make this high-traffic location a much nicer place to spend time. I also expect, if built the location will become more of a destination, even a bit of a town center. I expect it would be so nice to arrive at this location, park your car once, and be able to access all the stores nearby, even those on the other side of the busy road. Bravo Glen! Great design!

  15. Joshua Tree Rock Junction II

    If one were to look for a reason to build a safety bridge in an intersection of Joshua tree, there is no better reason than to make life easier for the pedestrian.

    I have been a walker, a runner and a bicyclist, and a motorist; which subjects you to every strange and dangerous encounter with automobiles.

    I love the fact that Glen is designing this overpass with a beautiful, sensitive perspective which adds to the desert aesthetic.

    There is a difference between seeing a new form and recognizing the “look” as beautiful. We tend to judge new forms with the only vocabulary we have in our past understanding: example; the VW car was considered ugly when it was introduce to our roads in the 50’s. But because of it’s dependability and value, it soon assumed a new appreciation of form.

    There is an inherent mistrust of “the new,” we tend to rely on past visual comfort zones. The thought that we could ever agree on what is beautiful, is impossible. We all have different experiences which inform our feeling of beauty. The object that we are viewing does not have “beauty,” we place that perception on it and it varies by how our perception were originally formed. So to look at Glen’s structure, we have to rely on our own perceptions not those in the “architecture.” We create the perception in our own minds.

    I will say that I really admire and respect the project Glen has presented, and in my mind it has a function, which I will call beautiful.

    One cannot put an external value on longevity. A “design” will by it’s physical presence, endure the pressures of time, the patina is both physical and mental.

    To have an enduring presence, our value of the project has to grow with our realization of the continuing development of our own experiences. They should grow together, if not we will lose interest in the project and move on. I feel that once this is built, the experience will educate our appreciation of the physical beauty of what Glen has designed. It is now and will have lasting beauty!

    Ahde Lahti
    Founding Faculty of SCI-Arc

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