Final Presentation_Scott Betz

The Fort Ancient Mounds are nondescript to most who visit the historic site: the mounds are belittled by our current societal capabilities, hidden by the thick wood, and downgraded by the grandeur of other world heritage ruins. The awe of Fort Ancient lies in its topography: the amazing amount of dirt and gravel that was carried by basket up a long and steep hill from the river below. The goal of the Fort Ancient Museum and Lodge is to provide a contained datum from which visitors can better understand the massiveness of the mounds’ construction.

Starting from the drive into the site, the visitor is able to see down the straight road that leads them to the museum to see just how flat and long the site is. The tower at the end of the alley helps the user understand the scale of the site as the tower appears small at first and grows as they draw nearer. Parking is in small separated pockets along the road so as to keep the cars visually subdued and forcing the visitor to continue their trek down the straight axis on foot to the museum. The North elevation of the museum is subtle s as to not visually compete with the density of the woods. The curve of the façade continues the smooth fabric of the mounds. The visitor can see other visitors apparently floating far above the valley on the picnic area on the roof of the southern-most portion of the ring. The visitor can either walk out onto the ring to the overlook or they can walk through the density of columns down into the museum. The museum building is a junction of two rings: the horizontal concrete ring for private and the tilted glass ring for public. It is a junction between research and education. The floor plans are linear and intended to guide the visitor through the narrative the museum has to tell. The visitor of educated and then is presented with a panoramic view of the hillside and river below. This is to help the visitor understand just how large of an undertaking the mounds’ construction was: how far the massive amount of dirt and gravel had to be carried. The user moves through the café, still in the panoramic suspended glass ring, and the gift shop, at the intersection of the glass and concrete rings, before moving back up into the site to experience the site with the new understanding and appreciation for its awe.

The overnight rooms are separated into small, secluded huts that are scattered about and stuck onto the hillside. The massive museum ring and tower are ever present overhead as a wayfinder that is representative of a modern mound. It is a circle, a hearth, a center, constructed atop the hill below which the researchers and weekenders reside for the nights. The axis of the entry road is carried in steps down to the river. Along the axis are circles which denote junction of paths. The first circle at the tope of the hill is a junction of cars, a turnaround. The next circle is a junction of knowledge, a junction of the glass and concrete rings, a junction of research and education. The next circle halfway down the hill is a junction of footpaths, a junction between the resident researchers and weekend adventurers. The last circle at the bottom of the hill by the river is a junction of canoers, bikers, and hikers, a gateway drawing them up into the site.

Schematic Design

Tolo House

Alvaro Siza’s Tolo House (completed in 2005) shows a very nice resolution to many problems including budgetary, functionality, and aesthetics. However, the innovation that is most relevant to our means is that of the building’s relationship to the site. Built on a hillside of some of the last wilderness Portugal has, Siza’s primary problem was how to respect the site. Inspiration can be traced to the planning of Porto and Lisbon, both are terraced. Looking at the building from the North, the entire building is hidden, only a concrete pad is visible. The building has low visual impact looking from the North and high visual impact looking from the South. This is a great way to respect the landscape and the views from the top of the hill while having much architectural presence from other perspectives.

Fort Ancient Site Analysis