Trammel Fossil Park is located in Sharonville, Ohio. Sharonville is a quiet city that showcases a fossil park that is quite famous in the area. At the fossil park, visitors are allowed to search and collect fossils. The park is surrounded by trees and industrial buildings. The fossils are located in the middle of the site on a steep hill.
Architect: Allison Miller
Project: Trammel Fossil Park Visitor Center
Completed at: University of Cincinnati, College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning
Under the instruction of Renee Martin
With the site being surrounded by a thick vegetation, there is little vegetation where the fossils are which means there is little shade to find fossils. That was the first site condition that was noticed. Creating shade for the visitors was one of my main design decisions. When I visited the fossil park it was very hot and there was little wind. Creating a comfortable environment, weather wise would encourage more visitors to spend more time in the park.
I visited the site three times at different times of the day. Every time I went there were multiple families digging for fossils. Parents would take their younger children and make an afternoon out of it. The children would run around and explore on their own. Another design decision I focused on was who was using the site and how they were using it. I decided to focus on the children and how a young child uses the site. The first thing I noticed was where they ran to. They would come from the parking lot and run straight up the hill to the tree line. That is where I have located my visitor center.
My visitor center is composed of two L shaped buildings that are compressed at the back on the first level. This is because I wanted to create a space where you felt compressed like a fossil underground, and as you circulate up the visitors center you experience more light and air like a fossil when it is uncovered. The program of the center includes: lounge space, conference rooms, maintenance, kitchen, storage rooms, bathrooms, and a large gallery space. There are three floors within the building. The first floor is occupied by the lounge space, conference rooms, maintenance and kitchen. The second floor is occupied by the bathrooms and storage. The third floor is dedicated to the gallery space which is flooded with the most natural daylight with a 20-foot-tall ceiling.
Tectonics wise my building is constructed of engineered wood, glazing, and structural mullions. Being composed of wood, the building blends in with the surrounding site since it is tucked into the trees slightly to provide more shade. By using trusses for the wall structure, the walls are able to support the cantilever by themselves. The structural mullions are proportionate to each other at 20 feet across.
Allison Miller is an undergraduate student from Detroit, Michigan studying Architecture at the University of Cincinnati, College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning. Throughout most of her life, she has had a passion for design and architecture. Since the age of 10 she knew what she wanted to be when she grew up. She has worked at Stucky Vitale Architects in Royal Oak, Michigan and is currently working at Wright Heerema Architects in Chicago, Illinois. She believes that the surrounding site and nature have a big impact on the architecture that is built on that site. Transparency between building and nature is a key concept in her design.