Drayton Hall Modern Facilities – Preliminary Schematic Design

March 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

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Thomas and Denzinger Architects along with Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and Wertimer & Associates recently presented the preliminary schematic design for the Modern Facilities at Drayton Hall.  This facility will offer the visitor a more in-depth understanding of the Drayton Hall mansion, its architecture, a gentlemen’s plantation, and the Drayton Family.  Through a process of interviews, research, and comparative site visits, a master plan was developed for the entire 125 acre site.  This allowed a better understanding of the historical, natural, and manmade features of the site that are not readily apparent.  One aspect that helped to guide the planning process has been the cultural landscape features.  There are a series of ditches and berms that were created when phosphate mining was profitable on the site.  They are currently hidden and being erased by the new growth in the wooded areas.  As part of the new facilities landscape, these historic features will be cleaned and preserved.  The new Center uses these features, extensive marsh setbacks and the existing, already disturbed, parking area as its boundaries and organizational informants.

Set back in the woods to allow little visual noise from the house, the Facilities endeavor to blend with nature.  The building is an apparatus for the proliferation of nature.  The exterior form and treatment is thought of more as a garden structure than a building.  At the same time the interior program pieces- exhibit rooms, retail, event space, orientation theater and offices- are offered dappled views of the mansion’s base through the trees.  This visible but not visible duality is critical so that the gallery spaces and artifacts feel connected to a place and not just on display.  While the house does not need the facilities to maintain its stature, the vast amounts of information discovered about it need a venue for display.  The facilities will offer an unprecedented view into a Drayton Hall that is currently locked in storage.

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