Taking Root

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Virginia Tech


This thesis seeks to investigate how architecture can utilize different techniques to introduce people to landscape, specifically those who have an uncomfortable relationship with nature due to inequities in access to quality green space, a cultural distancing from nature due to historical acts of violence, or an increasingly urban and work focused lifestyle. A proposed Visitor Center in Rock Creek Park, in Washington, DC, acts as a slow transition from park to city and back again, breaking the landscape into more digestible pieces before putting it back together as a whole. The building's strategy for introduction can be broken up into two categories, what the building reveals to visitors, and what it tells visitors. The building reveals the surrounding landscape in a rhythmic way of spaces of rest and spaces of activity, utilizing entrances on different levels, screened views, and glass corners to frame the landscape and topography. It is also designed to reveal the power of the environment, the sun, the rain, and the snow, in weathering the materials and creating a dynamic appearance and exposing the ways in which water runs through the site. In addition to showing the park, the building also is responsible for educating visitors about the important cultural and natural history of the park. The architecture supports the education of visitors in a flexible and non-technological way, using a variety of surfaces to display information to be seen and touched, to encourage the slowing down of minds and bodies to facilitate the transition from the bustling city to the restorative nature of the park. The proposed building utilizes design concepts present in nature and integrates them into the architecture of the building, to create an introductory experience into the landscape that touches the senses and the mind, preparing the visitors to enjoy the park.



Architecture, Visitor Center, Nature, Rock Creek Park