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Renwick Gallery

Completed as BIM Manager and Intern Architect for Marlon Blackwell Architects


2015 Boston Society of Architects Unbuilt Architecture + Design Award [Citation]
2014 Arkansas AIA Citation Award

Just 100 miles separates Washington D.C. from the Great Pocomoke Swamp (also known as Great Cypress Swamp) a forested freshwater swamp located on the peninsula in south Delaware and southeastern Maryland. This swamp once yielded much cypress timber, but over harvesting and a disastrous peat fire in 1930 destroyed much of its vegetation. The Great Cypress Swamp is now managed by Delaware Wild Lands, a private, non-profit tax-exempt organization dedicated to the conservation and preservation of natural areas through the acquisition and management of strategic parcels of land, who has implemented a forestry management program that considers not just “working” forests, but also multiple use and values of the same lands for sustainable biodiversity enhancement and recreational public use, and allowing selective harvesting of cypress for a sustainable and local source of material.

Cypress is a beautiful, versatile, and sustainable building material capable of being shaped into thin veneers as well as into dimension lumber. The consistent grain and workability make cypress an excellent choice for the construction of the Grand Salon interior. Cypress also happens to be an aromatic wood, with a pleasant scent that is subtle and comforting. The wood ‘lanterns’ will all be constructed with physical joints and mechanical fasteners; no adhesives will be used. The planks used in the floor and walls are rift cut cypress, a technique that cuts each board perpendicular to the tree’s growth ring, producing very stable lumber with the straightest grain.

These are but a representative sample of the virtually endless configurations of the ceiling. The surface comes alive and begins to interact with visitors to the Grand Salon, changing in anticipation of a specific event, or changing gradually, almost imperceptibly as time goes by. Much like the changing sky outside, the ceiling and the lights within it will adjust subtly for a wide array of effects, lowering to become more intimate to shape the space for smaller events or flaring up to highlight a sculpture or a performer. What results is a constantly changing experience, one that can engage visitors or even be engaged by visiting artists, giving them an opportunity to generate new possibilities. In addition to the broad range of events the ceiling can address, the space still functions beautifully for displaying and viewing art. We have used a variety of physical and digital models to explore potential configurations and to help resolve transitions and details.