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authors James, Stephen
year 1999
title An Allegorical Architecture: A Proposed Interpretive Center for the Bonneville Salt Flats
source ACADIA Quarterly, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 18-19
summary Architecture is the physical expression of man's relationship to the landscape- an emblem of our heritage. Such a noble statement sounds silly into today's context, because civilized society has largely disassociated itself from raw nature. We have tamed the elements with our environmental controls and turned the deserts into pasture. I find much of the built environment distracting. Current architecture is trite, compared to geologic form and order. I visited the Bonneville Salt Flats- (Utah's anti-landscape) in the summer of 1997. The experience of arriving at the flats exceeded my expectations. I was overpowered by a sense of personal insignificance - a small spot floating on a sea of salt. The horizon seemed to swallow up the sky. Off in the distance I noticed a dark fleck. It looked as foreign as I felt on this pure white plane. I drove across the sticky salt toward it, only to discover an old rusty oil barrel half submerged in salt. In my mind, the barrel has a history. It tells the story of a man's attempt at achieving a goal, or maybe it represents a broken dream left to corrode in the alkali flats. The barrel remains planted in the salt as a relic for those who venture into the white wilderness. This experience left me to ponder whether or not architecture can serve the same purpose - telling the story of a place through its relationship to a landscape, and connection to events.
series ACADIA
email sjames@email.hga.com
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