represents the theme of threshold, while also making obvious reference to the ancient cities of Japan, always centered on a bridge over a river, the center of commerce. The terminal and entrance hall squeeze and expand to always change the occupants relationship to the space, creating thresholds throughout. Light is always important in great design, but in this case, there was a greater pressure to showcase the specific experience of sunlight from the surface of the earth. It occured to me early in the research, that leaving the earth forever would mean never experiencing sunlight like ours again. It is completely unique in the entire Universe due to the specific relationship the earth has to the sun. If the occupants were to be on their way out, never to return, I wanted their dreams and nightmares of sunlight to occur in the spaceport, where their unique experience was raw and pure. Duality is always present in my designs - simply an extension on the theme of extremes. Duality is of course most interesting when presented with juxtposition, whether strong and obvious or subtle and hidden. There was always this tension of how air travelers and space travelers might relate within the building. An early idea was this simple tension between everyday air travelers and the space travelers, that might never return. There is always a bit of suspense that those leaving might be the last. Duality of course also plays well with threshold, but in an attempt to look at duality more deeply, the building never gives the user the sense that they are either on earth or already departed. Evolution was a theme that occured later in the project and did not fully develop. Some sketches reflect evolution in a physical form more clearly, but the final product left something to be desired in spaces of transition. There are elements that do evolve - for example, the massing of the two primary bars of program, or the structure and the way it reaches out towards the spaceplanes. I had a unique opportunity to visit the site, in northeast Japan in December 2012. My experience of the city that was largely destroyed
by the 2010 tsunami was memorable inspiring. Evidence of the destruction was still everywhere. Piles of rubbish heaped 10 meters high. Houses, abandoned, in disarray. I heard stories from locals of the terror of that day, of people drowning and burning at the same time. It was a terrible event never to be forgotten. I spent a day by myself, wondering over the site, watching skeleton crews pick apart the remaining houses. I went in one house far away from the others and long abonded. You could feel the presence of the other houses that once stood next it, across the street. Belongings were still strewn about the place, half buried in mud. It was cold and snowy that morning - there were no living things in the house. On the second floor, the bedrooms were loosely filled with tipped furniture. There was a beauitiful view towards the ocean. I met some fishermen on my way out of town. They invited me in for some instant coffee and a cracker. Very generous men, repairing fishing nets in a long white tent. In rough hand gestures we were able to communicate only a few details of the event. They had been out at sea off the coast of Alaska when it happened. When they returned home, they were lucky to find their familes still alive and well. One of them had lost their home. The resilient spirit of the Japanese people was nearly visible as an aura around these old fishermen. I knew then that this was a perfect place to imagine a building meant to be used at the end of the world. Even in the face of terrible tragedy, these people were uniquely aware of their surroundings, kind, and humble. When the rest of the world dispairs and spins into chaos, Ishinomaki would quietly prepare for the inevitable with dignity and peace.
Design documentation for a commercial/evacuation spaceport in Ishinomaki, Japan.