Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mid Semester Critique Script

Recharge & Recognize

During this presentation, I will present three rest area prototypes that have been developed using form, materials, light and color to inform travelers of their surroundings during their short-term experience at three sites in North Carolina. The title Recharge & Recognize has a dual meaning. Electric car recharging stations are located at each site as well as the rest area gives travelers a place to recharge themselves mentally and physically. The buildings themselves strive to increase awareness of the surrounding culture and encourage travelers to recognize their environment.


The theoretical framework for this project contains three main subcategories: sense of place, vernacular architecture, and cultural geography. The history of roads and rest areas is also influential to the project. This diagram visually shows this framework and highlights the main theorists work involved in my research.

Sense of Place

Through my research I have come across sense of place theories such as each traveler encounters a varied sense of place in the same physical location. Research also shows that a greater short-term recognition comes from previous understanding and seeking information. Travelers depend on the character of a place to create their experience. Christian Norberg-Schulz describes that it is important to orient oneself, but also to identify with the environment.

Vernacular Architecture

Vernacular architecture, the second theoretical subject, is inspired by the landscape, built using local materials, respects the environment, and is not influenced by fashion. This study has helps to tell the human story because throughout history, vernacular buildings have been built to directly satisfy the needs of the time. Vernacular architecture represents the regional architecture which is influenced by the users’ needs as well as particular architects.

Cultural Geography

Denis Cosgrove explains that landscapes are symbolic and each produces cultural norms and dominant values for groups in society. Both the natural and man-made landscape defines the appropriate behavior of the site. The combination of the man-made and natural landscapes in this project aim to encourage curiosity of the surroundings. A quote from Karl Raitz states “The trick [for tourists] is to learn about the everyday landscapes that ‘common folk’ create…” He explains that while traveling, one must be willing to read more than the roadside historical markers and look to the landscapes created by the local people. These three subjects sense of place, vernacular architecture and cultural geography form the theoretical framework for the project.

Rest Area Activities

The proposed rest areas go beyond what may be expected at a roadside facility. Looking towards future generations while also remembering the past, new amenities have been added to the traditional rest area programmatic requirements. Digital touch screens and large digital displays allow travelers to interact and learn information on the weather, regional history, current events, attractions, traffic, and more. Wireless internet is provided in all facilities. Nature trails allow travelers to stretch their legs. Vending provides unique treats such as seasonal local apples in the mountain region to enjoy in picnic shelters. Recharging stations give a new purpose to these roadside stations bringing them into the future.


The three sites were chosen based on the three distinct regions of North Carolina: mountain, piedmont and coastal. In the Appalachian Mountains at milepost 10, 12 miles south of Asheville on I-26 near the Asheville Airport, the first location is located in Henderson-Buncombe Counties. This second site is located in Cumberland County at milepost 48 on I-95, 1-mile southeast of Fayetteville in the piedmont region. The third site, unique because it serves both motorists and boaters, is in the southbound lane of US-17 one mile south of the Virginia line in Camden County.

Site Images

These three images represent the landscape of each region. Below are the three proposed prototypes, which I will now present. Each of the three are schematic designs in which details have not been fully developed. I will spend the remaining half of the semester developing one of these schematic designs in detail. Today, I would like the discussion to follow to be focused on the successes and weaknesses of the prototypes based on my theoretical approach. This will determine the prototype to continue to develop for the remainder of the semester.


Certain materials including metal, vegetation, wood and concrete are incorporated into each of the buildings but used in a fashion informed by the landscape. Some unique materials are also used in specific locations because they are inherent to the region. An example of this is small stones inside a wire structure which create the façade of the mountain site. Metal is used sparingly in the mountain region whereas further towards the coast where the landscape is influenced by ships and boats, worn, rusted metal is an important material. Reclaimed wood from different sources is used at each site. Examples include reclaimed barn wood in the piedmont and reclaimed wood planks from docks on the coastal site. Polished concrete has been chosen for all interior floors because of its durability and ease of maintenance.


Each site incorporates daylighting in a different way. From the mountains to the coast, the buildings progressively open allowing in more daylight. The coastal facility has the most fenestration whereas the building near the Blue Ridge Parkway is more closed due to the climate. These images represent the daylighting strategies for all facilities.

Night lighting

The night lighting, influenced by flashy roadside diners from the early age of the highway provides a glow from the road. This dually increases night safety as well as lures drivers from the highway.

Building Codes

Here, I have provided a list of some of the building codes that will need to be incorporated into the facilities. Two main codes I have met are the ½ diagonal rule, which states that the distance between the two required exits must be at least ½ the longest distance in the building and the restroom ADA guidelines. A five-foot turning radius is achieved in all spaces.

Mountain Region

This slide represents the inspirations for the Appalachian Mountain site on I-26. Color scheme consists of earthy tones, and previous conceptual models represent angular forms.


Exterior materials include reclaimed wood planks, stones in wire structure, Fusion Solar roofing by Custom-Built Metals which has a layer of solar film manufactured on each panel, and a vegetated wall with indigenous plants. Interior materials include reclaimed wood planks, polished concrete, a smooth glossy earth-toned paint, and the vegetated wall.


Perspectives of the building show the central public space where digital touch screens are located. A security office is located within view of each entry. The main path of entrance is through the vegetated wall, which is green on both the interior and exterior of the thick wall.


Plan and sections. An emergency exit is located on the back façade of the building. There are two womens restrooms and two mens restrooms in each facility for maintenance purposes as well as one family or assisted use restroom.

Piedmont Region

This slide represents the inspirations for the Piedmont site near Fayetteville, NC on I-95. Color scheme consists of tones derived form local crops, and previous conceptual models represent linear, horizontal forms. The history of textiles and mills as well as the current vineyard culture are inspiration for this design as well as farming.


Exterior materials include metal panels on the front façade and reclaimed barn wood planks on the rear portion of the building. The front façade has large sliding glass panels that can be opened during temperate seasons. The roof is Fusion Solar roofing by Custom-Bilt Metals. Interior materials include polished concrete floors, vegetated wall, a smooth glossy paint in a red-orange hue and a patterned 3-Form divider panel.


The vegetated wall penetrates the building and users weave through the openings reminiscent of former textile mills in the region. Two womens restrooms are adjacent as well as two adjacent mens restrooms in the rear of the building. The vending is located to the right of the entry clearly visible from most public spaces. Information is provided through touch screens in the entry and in a more enclosed space left of the entry near the security office.


Plan and sections. An emergency exit is located on the back façade of the building.

Coastal Region

This slide represents the inspirations for the coastal site on the Dismal Swamp Canal near the Virginia border on Highway 17. The form of the building is inspired by the contrast of water with its curvilinear, undulating properties and the linear structure of the man-made canal. The color scheme introduces blue and the building aims to achieve a weathered open coastal feeling.


Weathered wood reclaimed from coastal areas and boat docks is used as flooring on the large exterior deck. Tile resembling coastal shingle siding is used on the panels in the interior. A green roof featuring swampy moss vegetation grows out of the interior as a vegetated wall and catches rainwater on the roof using a filtration system. The curvilinear structure is constructed of weathered blue steel. Polished concrete is the interior flooring.


The interior of the building is accessible from both the roadside and canal side. On the canal side, there is an exterior deck designed to catch some of the debris brought up from the waterside. Cables are used to visually lower the ceiling height on the entry of the restrooms and is reminiscent of cables used in boat mechanics. Information is located on both sides of the interior near the large curtain wall and security is centrally located creating a wall for the vending on the exterior.


Plan and sections. There are two entrances to this building.


I would now like to open start a discussion focusing on the strengths and weaknesses of the three prototypes focusing on the theoretical framework and creation of a sense of place for travelers. I plan for this discussion to help me determine which of the three designs is the strongest prototype to continue developing.

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