Clark Thenhaus, of Endemic Architecture has shared with Arch Daily his design for a gateway to the Indianapolis Art Center. While the project has been canceled, we felt the design was still worth sharing to our readers. Follow after the break for additional renderings, diagrams and a description from the architect.
Historically, the concept of a gateway had much to do with one of three threshold typologies…the monumental, the iconic, or the natural. The Median Berms proposal for the Indianapolis Art Center exploit the existing site and infrastructural conditions to create a gateway with elements of the three historic gateway typologies. The monumental, the iconic, and the natural are hybridized through scale, geometry, and landscape creating over-scaled field sculptural berms.
The Median Berms grow from the existing highway medians and edges, areas most often left to the mercy of generic landscape decor. The Berms grow vertically as they slowly undulate and curl towards the museum as a subtle directional indication. Using the roadside medians and edges allows for needed site beautification, activation, and presence as part of the gateway strategy, creating an implied volume that you move through, rather then simply under. The frontal facing of The Berms are angled accordingly for appropriate sight lines for automobile traffic.
The berms blend with the existing infrastructure, at times becoming benches, and a new bus stop shelter. The scale and geometry of the berms add emphasis to the intersection upon approach and are at once monumental, iconic, and natural. By not covering any portion of the street, the berms create a softened edge as a gateway which one moves through as a space. The plantings of the berms are of native plants to the Indiana region. These include Big Blue Stem, Indian Grass, Butterfly Milkweed, Foxglove Beard Tongue, Northern Dropseed, and Shooting Star. The dynamic bloom cycles of the plantings create an ever changing array of color and texture throughout the seasons. Similarly the Big Blue Stem and Indian Grass are tall prairie grasses activated by breezes, creating a bustling, waving field of bluish amber, augmenting the geometry of The Berms.
The geometric organization of the berms is such that the plantings are visible even when The Berms are at their highest point, approximately 22’ high. Both the side walls and planting beds of the berms are constructed by using ruled surfaces. This means that each surface can be made from straight lines (structural members) between the two edges which give it shape, making them a feasible construction with a unique geometric quality. The walls are would be made of matte white fiberglass sheets over a structural envelope. The fiberglass shell would lend to a lighter feel and can be easily cleaned.
The Berms at the Indianapolis Art Center union the monumental with the iconic and the natural to create a gateway that is somewhere between art, architecture, sculpture and landscape. Rather then a single object strategically located or an element over the streets, the Median Berms create a spatial field of undulating, dynamic ‘hills’ and landscapes that curl towards the museum allowing for auto and pedestrian movement to smoothly navigate through a dynamic field that capitalizes on an otherwise leftover typology, the highway median.