Fort Tryon Park Meditation Space

Thomas Phifer, Critic

West of the Heather Gardens in Fort Tryon Park there is an existing arched Belvedere from where you can view the Palisades. I have chosen this spot for my site. 

You arrive at the project from the back, after walking through the perennial Heather Gardens. You enter a ramp that takes you up into the building and begins to separate you from the exterior world as the space gradually darkens. It is a process of entering; a gradual fading out before arriving at the linear view of the Palisades. 

The sun rises at the rear of the building, in the East, and sets in the West facing the front. The Pine boards that compose the building and its structure run East-West. Between each board there are openings that allow the sun to flood the building at sunrise and sunset each day. Twice per day the light enters the space from either side of the building, marking the appearance and disappearance of the sun. At one point, the light streams completely through the building.  

As you move out and onto the raised platform to sit with the view, you physically leave the park and go over the edge to be in dialogue with the landscape. A raised platform at the terminus of a space has a history in religious and spiritual architecture. In the ancient Greek temple it was called the Bema; later called the Chancel in Christian architecture. The Bema was the elevated place where the orator would stand and address the crowd. In the Christian Church and the Buddhist temple, it is also the space where the altar sits. In this building, the raised platform serves as the place where you sit, outside the park, to be in dialogue with the changing landscape. 

The Hudson River was the main highway for timber in the 19th century coming down from the Adirondacks. The majority of the timber was White Pine, mostly clear cut and unsustainably harvested. Now, the timber industry in the Adirondacks is changing significantly and Eastern White Pine can be sustainably harvested. I have chosen to use it for is lightness, strength, rot resistance, local sourcing and most importantly, its color.
Being complimentary, the yellow color of the Pine contrasts and intensifies the blue of the sky and the water from the inside. 

The structure is a series of dimensioned lumber ranging from the actual sizes of a 2x4 (1.5x3.5) to a 2x8 (1.5x7.5). They are layered and held together in groups that are each tied together and bolted in compression. The groups could be assembled off-site and then brought on-site to be tied together.