CLUI American Land Museum Gallery

Michael Harpster

ARCH 311, Spring 2011

The Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI) American Land Museum Gallery explores the boundary between architecture and topography, between building and site. The Gallery is only one building within a larger master plan for a 280-acre site along the Missouri River in Council Bluffs, IA. The master plan incorporates both a public park and live-work studios for visiting artists working in collaboration with the CLUI - a research and education organization interested in understanding the nature and extent of human interaction with the earth's surface. The Gallery and outdoor exhibition areas highlight the work of visiting artists and provides a gathering place for public lectures or events concerning the American landscape. The program includes gallery space, an auditorium for at least 100 people, and support and service spaces such as offices, restrooms, and a cafe. Rather than housing these programs within a structure that is simply placed on the site, the project is envisioned as a reconfiguration of the site itself. The program is set below the surface of the landscape, allowing visitors to access the site from above via numerous vegetated roof spaces or from below using a series of sunken pathways that cut through the site. The project thus functions as a landform building, operating as both an open accessible landscape and an enclosed, habitable space.