Vanishing Vocabulary – Physical Models – Museum Portion

Vanishing Vocabulary – Physical Models – Path Instances

These path instance studies explore the various ways in which the architectural interventions can interact with the path, and cause changes in it. (The “path” that is represented is not literal in form, as the interventions are, because the path itself is merely a clearing of the natural vegetation, led by the curve of the topography – thereby keeping the path relatively level)







Vanishing Vocabulary – Final Presentation Boards – Details

The diagrams notated on the section axonometric of the living units highlight how the units, with the high thermal retention lent by embedment into the earth, can make very efficient use of solar gain in the winter. The earth surrounding the units will also help them remain cool in the summer, providing that the sun is blocked by shading. The diagrams also highlight that the units are lifted off the ground so that self-composting toilets can be used, eliminating the need for difficult and odorous traditional sewage treatment, in this remote location.

The exploded axonometric highlights the “bundled” variety in structural elements, which are embedded into the earth-side.

The repeated pattern accenting the walls of the museum portion is derived from the native basket-weaving process, a ceremonial element of the culture. The pattern is applied to metal sheet material, varying in depth and sometimes piercing entirely through. These patterned sheets are located on either side of the concrete massing walls that anchor the composition into the “dug” hillside.

Vanishing Vocabulary – Final Presentation Boards – Primary Rendering

Vanishing Vocabulary – Final Presentation Boards – Lodging

The chosen lodging site stretches between a particularly inviting portion of the riverbed, and a wooded, enclosed, more private place among the earthworks, where a quiet path passes from a small clearing, between two unassuming mounds, down the hillside.

The lodging structure speaks to the form of “pile,” as the small individual living units, embedded into the sides of earthen terraces, are based from and cascade off of the larger, more stabilized, central community units, which suggest interdependency.

Vanishing Vocabulary – Final Presentation Boards – Path

The site path notated is the same area of topography highlighted in the site board. The lighter spots along the path are the locations of architectural interventions. The instances that are illustrated are assigned to their locations based on the needs of that specific spot of the site. For instance, a place that juts out as an overlook might have an intervention meant for sitting, resting, and looking at the view, whereas a spot where the topography undulates tightly and is very active might have a simple intervention that merely marks and accents the path.

The elements are meant to accent the path in such a way that visitors spend more time interacting with it and the surrounding natural site, recalling the cultural element of an individual spiritual connection with the earth.

This increased time and appreciation should encourage visitors to explore the site thoroughly – a desire which will be further spurred by the smaller paths that branch off of the interventions, leading deeper into site elements like mound, field, and river (these smaller paths are notated on the site board).

Also, the dramatic difference between the massive scale of the museum and the delicate scale of the interventions, will recall the idea of monumentality being eventually buried beneath the earth, leaving only small bits revealed – vanishing into the terrain.

As one travels down the pathway, the architectural moments are placed carefully so that the one being left will disappear from view before the next one appears. This recalls the idea that, as a new cultural idea develops, the one it is replacing vanishes. (This portion of the design also relates directly back to the case study done on the Creative Zone in Beijing. One of the primary concepts of the Creative Zone was, like a traditional chinese garden, for there to be one view per step. In the pathway implemented on the Fort Ancient site, each step brings a different view of the interventions, as the focus from one to another progresses.)

Vanishing Vocabulary – Final Presentation Boards – Museum

Placing the museum down the hillside, just below the mounds, at the point where the main road cuts between two of them, highlights the rather subtle earthworks. It calls attention to the mounds, which currently go so easily unnoticed by the many that casually drive through the site every day.

Though all parts of the intervention speak with the architectural language of the dialogue between “dug” and “bundled”, the museum portion of the intervention uses this language to speak of “passage,” the form most related to the “ceremony” aspect of the Hopewell’s mounds. The road’s passage through the museum site and mounds, the museum’s circulation path undulating through, in, out, and between the open and enclosed spaces and elements, and the circulation’s passage beneath the tunnel of the road, all emphasize this conceptual form.

Vanishing Vocabulary – Final Presentation Boards – Site

The terrain of original site plan (top) was modified in two locations. It was terraced off into steep terraces at zone 1 (notated by “A”), the location of the museum and the place where the main road enters between two dramatically sloped mounds. It was also terraced, but more gradually, at a site just between zone 2 and 3 (notated by “B”), near the river, where the lodging is placed.

The complete site plan (main image) includes the forms of these two structures, and shows the topography-conforming path accented by the string of architectural intervention moments stretched between. The lightened portions along this path are the places where the interventions would occur.

(Off of the site plan are photos representing the primary conditions of the existing site – open field, wooded path, and views out.)

Vanishing Vocabulary – Concept (In Process Images) – 2

What about the vanished hopewell culture is evidenced in the mound site that is their lasting monument?

The architectural vocabulary of their building techniques can be succinctly summarized in the actions of “digging” and “bundling.”

The essence of the structures left on the site are in the forms of “passage” and of “pile.”



The mounds were primarily a ceremonial construction, as will be the museum portion of the intervention project. But there are two more aspects to any culture, including the ancient native americans’: individuality and community.

Though each of these areas of culture are distinct, they are irrevocably interrelated. Therefore, if the intervention is to accurately interpret and represent the vanished culture, the implementation of them across the site, must equally satisfy each, simultaneously.

Vanishing Vocabulary – Concept (In Process Images)

The Hopewell ruins at Fort Ancient are evidence of a culture that has vanished. The society’s people have passed away, the artifacts been buried, and the structures declined. But furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, as new cultures develop and new ideas come into favor, the old culture’s viewpoint – its particular way of interpreting the world and its interactions – is lost. As a ceremonial and social site, Fort Ancient strongly embodies such degradation.

Conceptual sketch – “Vanishing into the terrain”

Conceptual sketch – “Vanish”

Conceptual sketch – “Degraded form buried in the earth”