2006 Skyscraper Competition
The main aim of this proposal is to question the role of structure within the field of architecture. Can it have multiple roles that integrate other elements, systems, creating mutually beneficial conditions? Can it be modeled like a leaf, in which the very members that hold it together are the same that deliver its nutrients? If so, structure can be a conduit—a physical network of rigid arteries and veins that not only bear load, but also house and perform additional services and operations. This scheme proposes that a research institute become a responsive, working system that utilizes structure and technology to yield agriculture, and effectively contribute to the efforts of reducing energy consumption that results in transporting fruits and vegetables from rural to urban areas. A canopy of hydroponic garden pods is designed to function as a seasonal market for the Philadelphia community.
The proposal can be dissected into three interconnected components: stem, core and roots. Structure becomes the overlapping connective tissue that integrates these. The stem is the prominent element in which the others organize. It acts as the water processor. The core becomes a protective wrapper around the stem, benefiting from its branches’ deliveries of water. Collaborative lab space fills the core. Three currently independent research entities within the Pennsylvania region will merge like roots into one stem: urban horticulturalists, environmental scientists and those investigating building performance and diagnostics, will thrive from each others’ efforts and passions concerning future environments. Finally, the roots transfer water back to the ground, completing the natural hydrologic cycle. This scheme assumes it can be constructed above an existing parking garage on 12th and Sansom Street, Philadelphia.