Site Lines: Building in Earth and Sky

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


At Jones Point in Alexandria, Virginia, it is easy to perceive the movements of the tides, the stars, and the sun, or to point to the markers and structures that dot the peninsula. However, the rules that govern the heavenly bodies and the intended purposes of the earthly constructions are not as readily discerned. Situated here, a marina and sailing school on the banks of the Potomac River finds order in the astronomical rhythm and man-made history of Jones Point, and they structure the significance of the site through building.

This project first aspired to re-imagine the ceiling and the floor as primary architectural elements. The floor and the ceiling became an analogy: The floor is the Earth, the ceiling is the sky. This building orders its site by unifying the diverse elements at Jones Point and allows one to find orientation in the terrestrial as well as the celestial.

It is by building that we put ourselves in relation to the world. We imbue materials and our constructions with significance. In Architecture, it is the construction of our ideals, desires, and wonder -- rendered in material -- that shelters us from the biting cold or the beating sun. We draw our stories in the sky and we build them on the earth.



sky, earth, orientation, order