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ARCHITECTURE

Effective stewardship can require creative solutions. So under a National Endowment for the Arts grant, present owners researched how to build gently on fragile, natural sites. In collaboration with architect Michael McGuire, they designed a structure near the mouth of the canyon--specifically away from the canyon’s pristine recesses. The structure was to “open humans to nature and protect nature from humans.”

To carry out their vision with minimal impact, the couple constructed a tram to haul building materials 90 feet up a 45 degree slope—without touching the ground. Then beam by beam inlaid the structure with a mere 4 inch damage margin
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Renowned photographer Robert Glenn Ketchum calls the structure “The Zen of Architecture.”

 

ARCHITECTURAL TOUR

Access to the site begins at a small, still developable building/parking site outside the canyon mouth. Here we are confronted by, and then invited into, the drama of The Canyon. We walk up the sandy arroyo amidst towering rock formations. As an act of respect--a technique of awareness--we step around and over native plants. Spiraling up a footpath, we pass through a small, enclosed structure—a place to wait out a storm—and then out onto
a thousand square foot observation platform hovering among a thousand spires.

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Below the platform, an Outdoor Room provides shelter
from summer sun and rains.
Here, enwrapped in a continuous slice of forest
canyon walls protect from wind;
snow and rain fall vertically;
posts appear as tree trunks; 
birds fly through eleven-foot high bays.


Forest temple to house the spirit.

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The same 2500 square feet of architected horizontal space
that opens this vertical canyon to humans,
simultaneously protects nature:


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40 volcanologists from thirty-one countries
climb to observation platform.
Pocket their pitons. Observe. Debate.
Revise complex theories of ignimbritic flows.  Leave. 
Structure as laboratory; pristine ecosystem untouched.

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Uninvited visitors attracted by spires, climb to platform. 
Inhale view. Leave.
Structure as decoy; pristine ecosystem untouched.