Monday, August 31, 2009

L.Architecture | Weathering on the Mississippi

The first few installments of L.Architecture have strayed far from the Cities, so this time we’ll keep it close to home. In Dakota County, hundreds of feet above the Mississippi River, a new building and interpretive landscape sits on land with an 8000-year human history.

The Schaar’s Bluff Gathering Center in Spring Lake Park Reserve was designed by Meyer Scherer & Rockcastle, with Close Landscape Architecture +. It’s a small wooden folly designed to take advantage of an unmatched view of the Mississippi River Valley, which is a mile wide here. The building itself consists of just two main rooms: an entry hall and the gathering room, which has a horizontal bank of windows facing the valley and full height glass facing a forested gully. A grand steel scupper lets rainwater cascade down in front of the large windows.

Outside the building is a series of interpretive and recreational elements, including a concrete map of metro-area waterways, a secluded fire ring in the woods right on the edge of the bluff, Cor-Ten steel panels with information about the site and the river, and a fire-ring plaza backed by the curve of the building itself.

It’s a nice combination of site and building (and according to MS&R's website, chock full of sustainable goodies), but I really see the L.Archtecture here when I project myself forward in time. The wood of the façade is already weathering, and I expect it will mute to a natural grey. Grapevines climb up the exterior metalwork, and will eventually create a green canopy over the fire circle.

The building is already subtle in the landscape, but give it a few years and this chapter of the site’s human history will be seemingly absorbed. The center will offer incredible views out from within, and will become merely a reinterpretation of forest and prairie from beyond.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This has to be a Jeff Scherer building right?