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flight the process of scientific discovery is, in effect, a continual flight from wonder. albert einstein

b2 studio

yyat the at theArboretum Arboretum B-2 Studio Arnold Arboretum Aviary



Elizabeth Leidy


Elizabeth Leidy - 8 weeks public areas

potential site location

exhibit/ educational space aviary restrooms indoor viewing space

buiding protected land


water (stream/pond)

private areas

planned building

research laboratory veterinary care


10% 5% 0% 1% 5% 3%


13% 3% 5%


storage mechanical

outdoor viewing space for "bird watching parking off site

nt it

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offices director's office 2 small offices waiting/ reception


program Week 1 challenged We were challengedto to design a 6,500 square e challenged todedefoot aviary in the Arnold Arboretum. Up to this square foot aviary point, all the projects within the curriculum had square foot aviary taken place on flat sites. The focus of this studio ofof choosing one ofof architecwas to challenge students to develop choosing one ture on a sloped site. I was personally interested ses with flexibility in the idea of in continuingflthe development ofin with exibility ‘architecture as landform’ from a previous stuthat it wassupported dio which it never fully resolved. The prod that supported called forneed. a 2000 square foot bird viewing nd gram given The andspace,given The offices, a need. veterinary space, and a small wasgallery tospace. explore Beyond this,and I was interested in y was to myexplore and understanding of natural light as fordeveloping a sloped it pertained to architecture,site, the interior spaces s for a andsloped site, the ways in which designers put ingitit toaffects, close examinause. aking close examinapace, use, anda light selecting site space, use, and light There were three sites to choose from. The /Educational Space first challenge was deciding which one, and it/Educational Space why. The first oneelement. (labeled 1 and so on) had a grammatic stream running through it which I found to be ogrammatic element. an interesting element, and something I would


site analysis

This project initially posed documenting challenges for me because I wasn’t really sure what to analyze and I didn’t know what was important. The diagrams below demonstrate major circulation, noise patterns (from weekend samples), topography, and pedestrian circulation routes. None of these diagrams rendered useful information. The diagram above and the corresponding section view on the bottom of the page helped me key in on the local issues that I saw as more relevant, such as grade shifts, species of trees, bushes and flowers, and their blooming seasons. Later in the process, these details became the most important to me.


draw from. I was not, however, comfortthelater took a of the site. able aviary working with the steep slope roach. the Despiteaviary my attraction totook climbing, universal In the way that a accessibility has always been an important feature roach. Inor the way on a very subconscious level.that The second site slither, envelope, lies on the summit of the Bussy Hill 198’ high. w,building slither, envelope, Frank Lloydor Wright said it best, behave as “one should never occupy the best location on a site, which building behave as I completely plane. agree with. The third site felt like ee ground Mathe most logical pick because of its proximity heinteriors, ground plane. Mam, program to the main entrance and the fact that it was on a relatively gentle slop compared to the precedm, interiors, program here explored with ing options. Also, its location near existing institutional buildings would allow where explored with dering and demon-this project to build on the idea of a learning campus. Later, I chose to stretch the demon‘usable site option’ south dndering artifi cialand conditons. east towards one of the ponds in order to incorporate water my final design. The third site nd artifi cialintoconditons.


wasn’t the quietest, it wasn’t the most beautiful, but it seemed like the least intrusive of locations because, like the existing buildings, it represented an inscribed perimeter, an “outside” if you will, allowing the nucleus of the park to remain untapped and undeveloped by infrastructure.





concept sketches

If anything was taken from the site analysis path diagram, it was the notion of a path itself. This was the ‘first brush stroke’ without any clear trajectory or reason. A path is described as a line with bends to define abstract notions of inside and out. The extruded line occupies and defines space in a very rudimentary way. Below, rhythmic links create a pattern that inspired my programming significantly. The models take shape with bends, winds, and clusters which became mass with qualitative space. At the time, the process felt arbitrary but later decisions would always be brought back to these very simple ideas of line, inside meets outside, linkage, and so on.

a module

Linked modules stretch across the site. I wanted to experiment with the idea of a path with linked modules. This process promoted early ideas about the site’s physical and ephemeral qualities. I wondered, what feelings does the site evoke? How can the lay of the land be used to influence the design?

study models

A module exhibits the possibility for a building system with infinite configurations, a quality ideal for natural environments. It represents a programmatic building block that bends around and takes form depending on site restrictions like trees, as in this case.

site strategy program public + viewing + private path

context water + trees + path

The building is integrated into the site by being visually and physically connected to an entrance, a water feature, and two existing paths. The instructor encouraged the class to develop a simple program as quickly as possible so I used the concept of stringing building blocks along a path with a stack-able program. The program was separated into three concentrations. Public areas which face main entrances to ensure a clear sense of orientation, staff spaces that are nestled into the rear to secure privacy, and a large bird viewing arena that wraps around the public and staff spaces. A series of shaded spaces denoted

path and contemplation?

The arboretum is a place of study and contemplation. These experiences take place on a series of winding paths. The principle concept builds on this experiential notion by using ‘a path’ as an archetype.

the no-build zone from data taken of the site. Everything else was imagined as ‘buildable’ open space. My focus shifted towards the site’s sloping nature and I began overlapping programmatic layers until my ideas began to take physical representations.

critical idea

The building integrates the program into the site. Public spaces are spatially sequenced above ground while private (laboratory) spaces exist below. The building literally grows from the site creating a continuous path from ground to roof.


After the third site visit I chose to talk to landscapers and botanical researchers who represented, in my mind, the most important end users. After an interview with staff I learned that botanists from around the world travel to the Arnold Arboretum to give lectures and study its internationally acclaimed biodiversity. No other landscape on Earth has as much tree diversity in such small and controlled confines. They described the difficulty in giving lectures with the spaces they currently had available to them, so I decided to add a new lecture space to the building program. The program is linked by three simple qualities; the public, the ephemeral, and the private. The qualities are expressed in physical terms by making ‘the public’ an elevated box, off the ground, visible to all from every direction. The ‘private’ is given the opposite treatment by burying a box and nestling it inside a grove of trees. The ‘ephemeral’ has the qualities of both. It is visible, hidden, and lives between the two previously mentioned elements. The program uses the site’s slope to carry out these qualities. Imagine a sloping hill and a long box; the box is pressed into the ground in a parallel fashion until one end of it touches the crest of the hill. One third is buried, one third is more or less above ground, and the last third is jutting over the lowest end of the slop.




skin and edge

A cantilevered platform supported by wooden trusses brings people up to the trees.

The sites slope is expressed with overlapping and intersecting programs (circulation ramp and seated lecture hall).


The linked modules that were developed early in the process are revisited and considered in a less abstract manner. Rather than having a long chain, I edited the diagram down to two simple links. Circulation routes mark the myriad of paths that various building occupants might travel along. The paths stem directly from existing pedestrian paths on the site and any existing trees which the building avoids. The path, or a series of processions, informed the distribution of program. The design process was neither an “inside out” or “outside in” method. Instead, my thinking was more of a “from here to there through this or that” because I was interested in developing criteria based purely on visual experiences and choreographed sequences.


Major zones where mapped out around landscape in plan format but the real lessons emerged from model making. The models demonstrated the issues of grade, cut, and fill which helped me design how people circulated in section.


The building engages visitors early in the touring process. It is between the cusp of parking and the bottom of the hill, central enough for it to become a walking destination like anything else in the park. One travels over water, over dirt, bridges, and wooden ramps to enter the building from two main directions. It snakes around trees, snuggles around ďŹ ll and creates arenas for sitting and viewing. Two arms lightly encircle existing trees with wooden latticed arms supported by thin steel. Indoor public spaces hover over water, galleries face north, staff portions are discretely tucked away from public routes, mechanical spaces take advantage of geothermal heat, and it all wraps around an empty void pointing towards the sky.

site plan

roof plan


outdoor arena


outdoor arena public route staff visitor

ground level

lecture hall




skewed building section

framed trees bridge

research offices


assembly The building attempts to address the balance between feeling like a nest, a cage, and a public space by use of wooden horizontals. The perimeter is wrapped with varied dimensional wooden bands. Some thicken to offer structural support and others thin out to allow in light. The overall skin is punctuated with slivers of glass to focus a vista or is obscured by solid walls to engender partial privacy or screen direct lighting.

The skin straps itself to a contiguous truss wall that provides critical lateral and rack support. The truss wall tighten with greater struts at shorter distances and allows the building to cantilever a minimal (reasoned) distance over the water. The single story assembly allows the building to be lightweight and airy. I imagined several thin steel members acting with wooden trusses supported by a typical concrete foundation.

space and context

Ironically, the need for human privacy creates an event for viewing. For those who actually work here, the architecture creates opportunities for the subtle ‘witnessing‘ of nature. Birds carry on with a sense of privacy in a room of their own.




form & structure



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from pond to lecture to courtyard wooden truss armature lecture space with end vista view of building from hill connection point aerial view facing north east elevation (agora spaces)

To the site’s discredit, the model is devoid of any landscaped features so as to afford critics the opportunity to peer within. What remains true is that the form evolved around all the existing trees, bushes, owers, and perceivable ecosystems. This allowed for an architecture that was born out of a dialog beyond the scope of purely human needs. The building neither attempts to impose on, or be set aside from the environment—it is of the environment. This project is of high importance to me because it represents an attitude and a diagram that I continually iterate. The notion that architecture can literally be born out of the bosom of land and environment has ultimately become my reoccurring thesis.


B2 Studio proposing a new aviary for the Arnold Arboretum in Boston.