This studio involved a research facility in the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center, a large site south of Dallas. Because of problems arising out of our control- professor shifting, and studio changing greatly through 2020 home education- this project was entirely completed in roughly three weeks at the end of the semester.
The John Bunker Sands Wetland Center is an existing facility in Dallas and the original site for this studio project. The program for the studio project had to be determined individually by the students. Each student proposed a facility for a specific “rewilding” goal, and a design for it then followed. These projects must “rewild” Texas, and bring about change or recovery of native landscape through our proposals.
“John Bunker Sands Texas Prairie Reconstruction Institute” was coined for this project, a hypothetical research laboratory and agricultural acreage focusing on regrowth and re-wilding of Texas native plains. Only 2% of the original Texas plains remain, the rest have been converted to agriculture and urban sprawl over generations of usage. This institute’s goal is to repair this damage and reproduce native Texas landscapes through grasses, wildflowers, and flora distribution, research, education, and display.
This facility is divided into three separate buildings, two of which compose the main bulk of the project. The lower building aligns with the highway and provides public access, views of the landscape, visitor centers, auditoriums, and gallery spaces. Across the fields, the upper research facility provides offices and laboratories for researchers separate from the public realm.
Both buildings frame a flattened mesa, or plaza, between them. This space is a site of change, native grasses, and exploration of this landscape’s beauty through public walkways, parks, and fields.
Rammed earth walls are framed by a glulam rib structure marching through the project. Each frame is shaped organically to create a single form through the overall project. The glulam sheets, inspired by the site’s sea of grasses which move softly in the wind, shine this form into and out of the project through different lighting conditions. They frame specific views outward while also blocking direct sunlight into the project’s laboratories and gallery spaces.
Surrounding the Highway-175 crossing, the roadway site is to be filled with grasslands and wildflowers to create a view for commuters. Blowing winds create a sea of constantly moving grass with spots of windflower color throughout. This native and ever-changing landscape is framed by these buildings which have massive flat walls facing the roadway as a canvas to be painted.
Different lighting conditions show this organic glulam form through select moments in the facades.