The Greenhouse Reading Room

"Your playing small does not serve the world."  -- Marianne Williamson

The Greenhouse Reading Room design proposes to create a focal point of community learning in the Buckman neighborhood of SE Portland.  But this design is more than a community center.

In function, The Greenhouse is a community based alternative learning environment in which individuals and communities can strive for excellence, independently or collectively, in their respective areas of endeavor.

Aesthetically, The Greenhouse will be an ethereal, transcendent, yet bold social space, defined by its tranquility, gentle warmth, filtered sunlight, abundant greenery, fresh, clean air, the juxtaposition of colors, forms, and textures, and an overall reflective, and inclusive atmosphere.

This concept takes its inspiration from the function and aesthetic of greenhouses which serve as a tailor-made sanctuary of magnified growth.

This type of community space might be useful in any urban setting, but the explorative, eccentric, community-oriented culture of Portland as a whole is particularly suited to such a forum.


Concept Statement

The Greenhouse Reading Room is based on the concept of its namesake, a greenhouse.  The function of a greenhouse is to provide a safe, ideal environment for the healthy growth of a diversity of plant life, within the context of otherwise incompatible conditions.  It is assumed that the nurtured plant-life will bare fruit, flowers, or other useful components.  The artificial nature of the greenhouse accomplishes this environment by carefully recreating and magnifying specific elements, like light, temperature, and irrigation, to provide an ideal ecosystem within its walls.  The resulting atmosphere of a greenhouse is notable:  gentle warmth, filtered sunlight, muffled sound, fresh, fragrant air, and of course, an abundant sense of life.  

The metaphor of the greenhouse communicates a "fertile terrarium" for overcoming unsupported circumstances, striving toward excellence, collaboration across a diversity of characteristics, individual and collective growth, tranquility, and the empowerment of its users.  The resulting yield, diverse, vital, and nourishing, propagates beyond initial borders with the intention to support and serve.