Naples Jewish Community Center

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Naples Jewish Community Center

Naples, Florida    map
Status: Plan

In Naples Florida, at a location of only 12 feet above sea level, all sites are constructed; almost all "nature" in this environment is artificial. The landscape from above is miles and miles of perfect superimposed grids of flatness, orthogonal roads connect orthogonal plots, aggregated ad infinitum yet each one autonomous, a series of bathtubs connected only by there plumbing [literally]. Within their plots are constructed all manner of "nature", always picturesque, zoning codifies natural beauty and through strict adherence to these codes ersatz mutants are created. This project seeks to move counter to this trend of the constructed-to-be-natural and instead sets out to harness nature through the construction, favoring the experiential over the picturesque.

Water, and what to do with it, is at the heart of all construction in South Florida; The Army Core of Engineers along with multiple environmental constituencies enforce building practices making Naples a series of constructed bathtubs, a 20' wide embankment 3 to 5 feet higher around the site perimeter prevents contamination of adjacent sites. Additionally, any built construct, building, parking, playing field, etc. must be located on no less than 2 feet of imported fill. Combining these constraints with storm-water management requirements, and the mitigation of invasive plant species [the invasive melaleuca, a paper-bark like tree brought from Australia to this region over 50 years ago with the intention of drying up the Everglades], the potential to retain naturally occurring landscape is erased.

Key program areas include the following which total to approximately 80,000 square feet:

Site : 37.6 Acres
" Athletic Fields (Baseball and Soccer)
" Parking
" Pavilion
" Water Management Basin
" Accommodation for Future Senior Living Facility
" Related sight structures

Building: ~80,000sf + future expansion ~total 140,000sf
" Outdoor/Covered Aquatic Facility
" Gymnasium and Exercise/Fitness Areas with related Locker Room Spaces
" Community Services areas including Classrooms and a Kitchen
" Daycare Facilities for (35) children
" 350 Seat Black Box Theater and related support
" Café and Public Gathering Spaces
" Administrative Offices for the JCC and Jewish Community Federation of SW Florida

The following charts the progression from competition entry through conceptual design


Strategy
Initial studies of the site are predicated upon a single question, "what do we do with the water?" Though a number of hypothesis where explored, we finally settled on a canal-type scheme; favoring this strategy for its essentially experiential implications, the water could be made more than a thing existing independently, like Barragan, it would instead contribute materially to the life of the facility.

In highlighting the necessarily artificial nature of the 38-acre constructed site we choose to maintain the pattern of orthogonal superimposition on nature used in laying out the region historically. Subsequently, using survey data relative to wetlands areas, flora and fauna mapping, soil types etc. we ascribe to each of these zones a function: parking, ball fields, building, water, etc.

By embedding this system with a series of north-south canals, we are able to fulfill storm-water requirements relative to each zone; re-enforcing the already present geometry offered by plot lines, orange groves and an existing canal one must cross to access the site. These canals, re-sized through various iterations of performance criteria, provide a unifying landscape for future development, an elderly care facility to the southwest, as well as an experiential engagement with the building and user.

Parking, grouped compactly in what the survey characterizes as and "upland area", is then broken up by areas without land-fill, depressions of existing vegetation and swales of remediation, prior to its assimilation with the lake.

The impulse to maintain a small though active orange grove in the northeast corner of the site and the new entry to the site from Collier Blvd. [pre-determined by the Department of Transportation due to the location of its neighboring entry shown in the photo] are the impetus for creating an east-west spine of landscape connecting the two; entry to event pavilion nested within the orange grove. This articulated Bamboo spine will then provide a framework for the building and its future expansion.

Building
Typical building practice predicated by site and landscape constraints result in a kind of layered effect to building organization; first the setback, then a row of trees, then the water, then a rather hermetic building typology; as visible from the aerials, landscape is held separate and autonomous from building, one must always leave one before entering the other. Given this formula of autonomy our building seeks a much stronger ambiguity between landscape and building, favoring intensive zones of interiority and exteriority over drawing distinct lines.

Cleft in two, the program is organized along the central landscape spine, arts and cultural activities to the north and recreational activities to the south, while offices and other administrative functions occur on the second floors of each. This type of zoning allows programs intended for expansion, primarily the recreation and daycare to remain open-ended, while those requiring greater control and initial expenditure, theatrical, mechanical etc. to maintain their initial integrity as the building expands.

The morphology of the building is composed of primarily two elements; the ground, which modulates to offer sectional relationships between programmatic volumes and view not often experienced in such a ruthlessly flat environment, and the roof, providing solar benefits and a further integration of the landscape. The punctured roofs ability to define and contain exterior as well as interior space offers a more intensive variation between inside and out but also serves climactic requirements relative to solar shading and hurricane winds up to 140 mph. The variation in volumetric requirements for such a program so diverse [black box theatre, double court gymnasium, racquetball courts, aquatic facilities, office, daycare etc.] rely on this interplay between ground and roof; the building becomes a continuous programmed zone in the interstices between two modulating surfaces.