Epigenetic Blur

Winter 2010
Design entry for 2010 ACSA Steel Competition

This project began by asking, "How can landscape affect the form and use of a building?" Creating the landscape before the building itself resulted in this design for a Neurobiological Research Center in La Jolla, California. Because the site is located 300 meters east the Pacific Ocean, the nature of water run-off became an important aspect of the landscape. Several paths were created for water to run from East to West, resulting in tiny hills and valleys throughout the landscape. The intersection of landscape and neuroscience is the theory of epigenetics--the notion that our physical settings and surroundings shape who we are as human beings. This project explores that theory through design.

Nature was very important for the design, resulting in courtyards and natural spaces scattered throughout the project. The building itself appears to be peeling up from the earth, revealing the steel structure beneath it and creating the core central courtyard of the project. The final design blurs interior and exterior space, public and private space, and natural and built space. It is an epigenetic landscape for neuroscientists, students, and visitors.