Design within an urban frame: a school for palimpsest Alexandria, Virginia

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

It is in man's nature to want to know his place within his environment. This inherent need manifests itself in many ways, often unique to the cultures and societies that husband them. The primacy of man's need for a sense of his place in the world is evident in the collective mythologies that surround every culture's history of its people's origins and of their understanding of the world and their place in it, between earth and sky. This sense of one's groundedness, of one's place, is essential and more than simply a matter of orientation or territoriality, although both these needs are very real. The roots we plant in the soil provide an anchor and give us our bearing. One's connection to the environment is intrinsic to the knowledge of who one is and where, both as an individual and as a part of a larger collective. Our associations with larger contexts, be they physical, social, political, or spiritual, are moorings against the uncertainties of our world. They define our lives and our relationships with one another. It is within this framework that we are bonded to the past, and ultimately, guided into the future.