Torrey Pines Gliderport Design Process Thoughts

Referenced Readings:

“Post Carbon Reader” Richard Heinberg and Daniel Lerch

“The Death of Sprawl: Designing Urban Resilience for the Twenty-First-Century Resource and Climate Crises” Warren Karlenzig

“Smart Decline in Post-Carbon Cities: The Buffalo Commons Meets Buffalo, New York” Deborah E Popper and Frank J. Popper

“Toward Zero-Carbon Buildings” Hillary Brown

“Ecology and the Architectural Imagination” Chapter 6 & 7 Brook Muller

I am currently working on a studio project involving the redesign of the Torrey Pines Gliderport which involves designs for the building as well as the surrounding parking lots, paths, and natural areas. After a fair amount of frustration in the early stages, I am finally beginning to clarify a cohesive vision for the area which focuses on the creation of a meandering but highly managed experience – somewhat reminiscent of a Japanese Garden in its organization. Since I am at a critical juncture in the design process this week is a time for questioning my progress so far and will serve as more of an update, rather than the usual proposal.

Articles from the Post Carbon Reader this week focused on the importance of food & transit systems, managing city policy amidst declining populations, and the importance of transitioning towards net-zero construction. All of these topics are important for discussion because they provide a reminder of the larger context, giving occasion to pause and consider how our built artifacts individually effect the collective direction of society.

The issue of food in urban areas is one that is especially dear to me and the reading by Karlenzig is timely because I just completed a paper in which I examined the idea of improving resilience through urban agriculture. Since the start of my current studio project I have been imagining the restoration of native habitat as a major aspect of my design, but recent reminders about the importance of urban agriculture make me question that decision. Surely native habitat is important and due to site constraints a full-blown food forest isn’t appropriate for this project, but perhaps there is a balance to be struck that includes both.

The article concerning policies aimed at managing declining populations actually relates more closely to a project that I am undertaking in my theory class which involves the reimagining of San Diego public transit. Although San Diego has been somewhat insulated from recent boom and bust cycles due to the draw of its amazingly consistent weather, eventually resource availability will force economic realities onto the city and changes will have to be made to the structure of development and transportation. The city is managed as though declining populations are impossible, but in fact San Diego is somewhat reminiscent of the Mesa Verde Anasazi settlement.

The discussion of net-zero construction is important as well because it is a reminder to consider process issues in regards to my design. I have already considered solar, water treatment, and passive temperature management strategies in my design but thus far have neglected to consider the other important petals of the living building challenge: materials, health, and equity.

As always, Muller provides dense material that requires more consideration than my schedule currently allows. I look forward to having the opportunity to reread this text but my initial thoughts are as follows. In these two chapters Muller focuses on the interaction of landscape with architecture. Since the landscape on this site is so commanding, it provides the main driver for my architectural intervention and new methods of examining the relationship between architecture and landscape are extremely useful. Because of this, the question of whether to use emulation or interaction as a method of creating this relationship is at the forefront of my mind. I don’t have an answer yet, but this will be driving my design as time moves forward.


  1. The gliderport as an element of a distinct architectural intervention into an extremely rich yet venerable landscape serves a specific challenge. There are definitely ways to introduce what you have learned about urban agriculture as a basis for the rehabilitation of specific site.


  2. Although Muller is difficult to understand, he has some profound insights that broaden the discussion regarding sustainability. I wouldn’t have considered choosing between emulation or interaction before. It would have always been the former out of ignorance.



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