An oceanographic research facility

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The natures of two contiguous worlds in a dramatic symbiosis inspire a singular expression for the two. The moving, highly energetic, brought to order through regulation; not abruptly, but sensitively, through dynamic forms and moving interactions. Land joins water and forms a critical edge that through the mechanism of change is never fully determined. A moving contour presents a foil to the more orderly, precise nature of man-made construction. A building manifests itself as a bridge that unites the realms of land and water. The orderly progression of structural piles assumes power against the backdrop of an unordered field. Suspended pathways traverse the field, uniting the realms and organizing the waterfront. It is the nature of connection: the union of two made possible by a third. Beyond the connection implied of two contiguous realms, a larger order poses its question. What is the sense of belonging; the intimate connection; belonging to and of this place? Validation extends from referencing the immediate site and surrounding area. Perceived and associative images, as well as indigenous forces inform the design and help determine the forms and manner of execution. The exigencies of the site provide the framework for expression. From the Poetics of Gardens: "Sometimes the most poignant qualities of site come not from what is actually there but from what is connected to it through time and space, by our recollections and hopes." An Oceanographic Research Facility, derived from forces and forms indigenous to the coastal milieu, emerges as a platform to experience Land and Sea and by definition, unified: joined in a common sense or relationship.