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This graduate studio project required programming and design of a new municipal airport for a small city in the mountainous northwest region of Montana. With a growing population of nearly 35,000 residents, a local university, and a healthy summer and winter recreation tourism industry, the city is in need of an adequate welcoming point for residents and visitors alike. Because the airport is the first and last experience these travelers will have with the city, it is critical that the new structure celebrate the dramatic local scenery while providing a high level of security, efficient use of space, and effective shelter from the rigorous winter climate.

My airport design serves as a sort of 'sensory launch pad'. The structure itself is sensitively nestled into the mountainous landscape, utilizes solar mass, and opens like a crevasse in the earth which lifts up towards the sky. As travelers enter the earthen airport through the long, narrow, planted passageway, they depart from their previous and familiar environs and enter into a place of transition. The initially enclosed structure gradually grows taller and the views of the sky and mountains more perceptible, as individuals slowly process through the various stages of airport procedure. The traveler is preparing for flight both literally and figuratively. Once a traveler passes through security and ascends into the main lounge, the tall structure and soaring views allow them to decompress, rest, and contemplate the journey ahead - a journey from earth to sky, reality to dream. Conversely, a visitor is welcomed by the upwardly sweeping gesture of the airport terminal and gradually drawn into the city through this new gateway. By creating such intense compression at the beginning of the sequence and decompression at the end, the experiences of both arriving and departing are gradual, memorable, and individual.