Wells Lamson Quarry Visitor Center

Michael Harpster

ARCH 410/ Fall 2011

The Wells Lamson Quarry Visitor Center investigates the potential of materials to enhance and influence one’s experience of a place. Set near an abandoned stone quarry in East Barre, Vermont, the project helps the public gain a better understanding of the history, technology, and topographic and ecological impacts of granite quarrying. The program includes a series of artist residences supported by a larger visitor center and memorial space. Each pavilion is conceived as a glass cube, measuring just twenty feet across and twenty feet tall. The size and materiality of the pavilions are kept consistent as a means of revealing differences in environmental conditions throughout the site. Rather than exploring only the transparency of glass, the project seeks to enact the reflectance, transmittance, and even the scattering of light that occurs as it passes through glass. In other words, the project is not about the material itself, but what the material is able to reveal about the surrounding environment. Conceptually, the artist residences echo the absence or void of the quarry. The artist residences and memorial function as a present “absence” within the site. Set within the hard stone of the area, these spaces have little or no visual presence, yet the negative spaces they create within the landscape serve as a measure of the landscape. In addition to its material exploration, the project also focused on how to construct the unique visitor center pavilions. Ultimately, the entire project engages directly with issues of materiality and tectonics. This project was an entry into the 2012 Lyceum Fellowship Competition.