We are on the home stretch of the Charrette. We have set goals and played with the site layout but now we need to discuss the architectural character of the building inside and out. We began by reviewing the entourage of images of similar facilities throughout the globe that we had assembled as a part of Preparing for a Creative Exchange of Ideas. There was also the exploration of familiar structures nearby which included:
- The municipal buildings of the Chickasaw Nation
- The historic structures of the national park constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps
- The recreation of the Artesian Hotel being constructed immediately north of the Visitor Center
- The recently completed Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur
We focused on key elements from the familiar structures that would be desirable to incorporate into the design:
- The use of stone, metal roofs and landscape settings of the Chickasaw government buildings
- The characteristic stone on the base of the Artesian Hotel along with the arcade statement on Muskogee Street for the street market
- The rustic nature of wood and stone used in the park structures along with the flowing water of the mineral springs
- The natural feel of the Cultural Center with exposed structural elements, high volume spaces, natural light, use of copper and visual connections to the exterior
We identified additional features rounding out the list of appealing characteristics from our discussions:
- The natural integration of the building onto the site
- The use of outdoor space to compliment the interior
- The creation of vistas
- The use of complimentary landscaping
- The incorporation of water elements
The design goal established for the Visitor Center was to create an architecturally dynamic building that will act as a gateway to the national recreation area. The exterior design needed to be creative in form, rich in the use of materials and visually expressive of the function of the building. The structure would be split level integrating itself into the sloping site and adding to the dynamic character of the exterior design. The stepping down of the building with the site creates the opportunity to articulate and accentuate the building massing and roof forms.
As we recapped the day, we summarized the characteristics of the spaces, the approach to developing the site, the architectural character and the rich palette of materials we would use. It was time to return to our offices, begin to digest the wealth of information we gathered and reflect on the interactive discussions that occurred throughout the charrette.
We had our work cut out for us but now we knew where we were headed. It was time to transform the vision and ideas into architectural solutions that would push the limits creativity. What a day. We’re pumped.