The Watchtower sits out on a promontory at the eastern end of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Designed by Mary Elizabeth Colter, from a distance the building's silhouette looks like the Anasazi watchtower it was meant to mimic. The Indian watchtower at Desert View is not a copy, but what Colter called a 're-creation' of an Indian watchtower. Standing at 70 feet, with a 30-foot base, the tower is unique in having a concrete foundation and a steel framework well hidden in the stones of the tower. An outdoor observation deck is directly above the observation room.
The most noteworthy aspect of the exterior is the stonework--a variety of uncoursed rubble below and coursed sandstone above, with decorative patterns of triangular stones adding architectural interest directly below the tower's parapet and other bands of color masonry adding even more visual interest. Her use of texture in the masonry creates a visual depth. Large walls sections of the tower, for instance, have a relatively smooth finish that in places is broken up by slightly larger stones protruding from the wall surface. Fenestration in the tower is irregular--tiny windows or those with irregular shapes--with the exception of the observation area at the top of the structure where large trapezoids of plate glass allow the viewer to see the surrounding countryside in all directions. Colter's careful massing of forms added more architectural emphasis to the tower.
Grand Canyon National Park