Terry Thomas Transcended is an examination of how topophilia can encourage social ownership of sustainability. Author and humanist geographer, Yi Fu Tuan, described topophilia as “a framework to discuss all the different ways that human beings love a place.” Our perception and love of place is influenced by the interconnection of our sociocultural, natural and built environments. The overlap of these environments are framed by the idealized qualities of resiliency, regeneration and responsiveness.
2018 is the decennial anniversary of The Terry Thomas office building, which is celebrated as a groundbreaking learning laboratory for its progressive sustainability goals. The Terry Thomas is located in Seattle’s most dramatically changing neighborhood with rapid urban growth and a growing global community, influenced by local technology giants. The design team, also building occupants, reflected first-hand the relationship of the users and building to its immediate neighborhood and asked what “love of place” means to all.
Terry Thomas Transcended began with a firm-wide call for concepts and models to consider how users might interact with the urban built environment in the future considering the trajectories of change over the past decade. “In Pursuit of Topophilia” was the selected concept model with a design prompt to reflect upon the successes in the building’s original design and translate these ideas for 2038.
The resultant conceptual design explores themes of memory and nostalgia, permeability and connection to the natural, community and urban fabrics. It considers how technology simultaneously shortens and lengthens distances between us. The lines between residential and work life will continue to blur, necessitating the need for hybrid spaces that support both functions. Radical shifts in how we commute will redefine the ground plane and reclaim the right of way to allow for regenerative natural systems and food production. The repurposed garage levels serve as storm water cisterns for water filtration and reuse. Public space at higher building levels create opportunities for broader community connections and respite from the urban surroundings. Economic resilience and evolving programatic needs are addressed with a modular superstructure, allowing for future adaptation in program type and density.
As participants in the built environment, we will always make a mark on the planet and its resources. Topophilia is a foundational framework for creating healthier communities that celebrate the core principals of sustainability through resilience, regeneration and responsiveness.