The Panoptic Experience
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Title: The Panoptic Experience Goal: The town of LaCrosse, WA and the Ice age Flood Institute are working together to combine information on the regional ice age floods with a welcoming visitors center for the town. A major goal was to make the site visible and graphically exciting to the town and visitors. Background: The site is a vacant lot surrounded by historic buildings built from the areas basalt rock. The goal is to create a graphically and physically exciting spot for the town’s visitor center and for interpretation of the ice age floods. Method: Research on the town of LaCrosse, WA included looking into the area’s history, the local environment created by the ice-age floods, and the site itself. Research on the geological history included understanding what had occurred, its relationship to the town and the region and its importance as well as inspiration for design. Case-studies were completed on pop-up exhibits (low-cost, temporary exhibits, graphics) in order to gain knowledge of the building type. Results: The conceptual design is the panoptic experience. Panoptic means all-encompassing or seeing the whole in one view. The whole site is an experience of many characteristics of the ice age floods and encompasses local heritage. A cargo box provides the visitor and exhibit shell. It will be easily visible from any approach. The box itself is at an angle to maximize daylighting and receive the least amount of exposure to the wind. The cargo box will have a stripping detail to mimic the layers of sediment banding and rolling hills caused by the ice age floods. A large awning is custom shaped to mimic the look of a glacier to provide some shading at the entry. Inside the center are hands-on learning exhibits.