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CORNELL UNIVERSITY DESIGN STUDIO

FALL 2018 - ITHACA, NY

PROFESSORS - ALEJANDRO BEALS & LORETO LYON - BEALS+LYON ARCHITECTS

PROJECT BRIEF - INDOOR/OUTDOOR COMMUNITY GATHERING SPACE - ITHACA, NY

 

PHASE 1 - NATURAL ENVIRONMENT ANALYSIS - CORNELL LAB OF ORNITHOLOGY FOREST

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology forest extends over a dynamic groundscape that reacts to an ever-changing site. This condition allows visitors to get lost within the space as they slowly explore the intricacies of the marshy landscape. The lush, soft ground condition possesses moments of reflection in pools of water which ripple and distort with the gentle breeze. The forest trees also act as a natural filter, creating a dynamic lighting condition, gently transforming the space. As a single tree of this height would be unable to support itself alone, the collection of trees act as a system of supporting structures against lateral wind loading.

 

NATURAL ENVIRONMENT ANALYSIS MODEL

The analysis model works with the idea of a malleable landscape, which acts as the foundation for a series of vertical elements working together in a system. The netted ‘ground’ of the model can be manipulated with the application of pressure, and in doing so, begins to push and pull the vertical members in different directions. Each vertical element is attached to another through the use of tension cables, so when one element is disrupted, the entire system works to continue to support and hold the member in place.

 

PHASE 2 - ARTIFACT ANALYSIS - HIGH VOLTAGE TOWERS

High voltage towers are a series of modules that all function together as the center point of field condition of cables which spreads across Tompkins County. Their height and tower-like nature is born out of the sole function of carrying the cables high above the ground plane, so that they do not interfere with the population below. The individual towers are constructed with a series of modular steel pieces connected by bolts, as well as non-conductive ceramic plates which hold the power lines. Each module works together structurally in order to support the infinitely expandable system.

 

ARTIFACT ANALYSIS MODEL

The analysis model understood the electrical towers as a collective of modules which must be part of a system in order to function. Standings on pin connections, alone the individual structures would be unable to stand upright; however, when connected to other modules they are able support and react to each other’s movements. Built upon a gridded platform, the model could theoretically expand infinitely and the system would still function in the same manner.

 

ITHACA PLAYSCAPE

Sited at the intersection between the commercial and residential areas within the city of Ithaca, the project creates a community gathering space through the implementation of a daycare, café and playground. The project itself is hidden within a forest, and is slowly revealed as you navigate through its extending paths. As you get your first real glimpse of the project, you are met with a clearing in the forest, which contains an undulating concrete ground condition filled with a forest of columns supporting a thin roof.

The tall thin columns recreate the sense of being lost in the Lab of Ornithology forest while also acting as the programmatic elements which become the playground equipment itself. The columns also all act together in tension to support each other against lateral loading, using a similar system found in the precedents, and support a thin mirrored roof above, extending the sense of verticality in the space. All of the interior program becomes housed within the hills of the ground condition, maintaining an uninterrupted flowing landscape and creating a dynamic space for both the daycare and café. The playful nature of the project fulfills a much needed and currently non-existent space for families and children to unwind year-round within the city of Ithaca.