ICAR POV; George Mason University Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at Point of View
competition entry 2005
Point of View is a retreat and clinical lab site situated on a 120 acre parcel of pristine wooded land, bordered by the Potomac River and protected wetlands, is in Mason Neck, Va., about 30 miles south of Washington, D.C.
The program required a conference center with a series of meeting rooms, a large ceremonial space, an auditorium, a library and a series of guest cottages with dining facilities.
The circle is perfect – nothing may be added or subtracted to improve upon it. The circle is neutral, egalitarian, non biased. It doesn’t prejudice one direction over another. It is harmonious, cooperative and consensual. The circle is the ideal shape for the ICARPOV Conference Center individual conference rooms and tables with no discernable head, offering no psychological advantage for anyone. There are no corners to be backed into nor refuge to be sought in. Circles opened up along the exterior allow it’s users to enjoy the stunning natural beauty of the setting while conference attendees analyze, deliberate, negotiate. Exterior glazed openings at each of the conference rooms are situated to harvest daylight, thereby obviating energy consuming artificial lighting, satisfying sustainability goals and placing the conflict analysis and resolution in the light of day. Conference rooms are private but open to the environment, the line between interior and exterior deliberately blurred. Clerestory windows above the conference rooms and angled reflective ceilings allow daylight to penetrate as deeply as possible into the interior of the main Ritual Hall for social activities and the performance of rituals. Glazed separations between the individual conference rooms further allow daylight to penetrate as deeply as possible into the Ritual Hall and allow views out to nature from within while allowing for discreet entrance and exit from the conference rooms and providing an intimate alcove for private personal exchanges. The use of sloped roofs throughout is intended as metaphor for the shaping of inclinations related to the conflict resolution process, one end being more open and light than the other and always above the scrimmage.
The use of narrow building types with long axes oriented North – South optimizes the penetration of daylight into interior spaces, provides views out toward the natural beauty, allows the appreciation of the passing of time and seasons, and encourages a day spent in natural beauty. Separating the program into several building types and locations further minimizes a brutal impact on the environment, eliminates two story structures and allows for easy expansion in the future. Separating the buildings fosters the enjoyment of the various natural scents, fresh air, sunshine – weather permitting, time of day, seasons of the year, weather in general and abundant natural beauty by the necessity of salubrious and mentally stimulating walks about at mealtimes and to and from the conference center.
Separating the offices into a distinct building allows that configuration and orientation to be optimized for that particularized use. The placement and orientation is optimized for the harvesting of daylight – thereby reducing energy consumption and increasing the quality of the indoor environment thus, productivity. Possibilities exist for the prefabrication of portions of the office building offsite to optimize sustainable construction practices, waste management and energy efficiency while minimizing disruption to the delicate site. Future expansion is easily accommodated at ground level.
The common dining facility is intentionally simple and spare alluding to that of a monastery. It is a space intended to foster casual and convivial social interaction amongst the conference goers. A walk in nature is required to arrive there from both the conference facility and the guest cabins.
The use of modest cabins for the guest rooms is consistent with the context and provides the optimal configuration for privacy in this beautiful natural setting. Roughly arranged around a court, the configuration allows for the possibility of a few larger outdoor gatherings removed from the main body. Porches allow for friendly, casual visits with neighbors or deep and reflective contemplations while enjoying stunning views. The cabins may be prefabricated offsite to allow for optimal sustainable construction practices, waste management and energy efficiency while causing minimal disruption to the delicate site.
- contemporary design
- green building design