Site Location Forming Design Decisions

Today’s Topics:

  • The importance of a site
  • Visitor Station/Overlook Project
  • Designing More Than Just a Building

Watch this YouTube video showing how I effectively chose a design for my national forest site.

The Importance of a Site

Architecture always begins with a site. With a site, there are many different aspects that can effect the way you design.

You could be designing in Boston where there is a much colder climate, or you could be designing in Arizona where it gets very hot. this could change the way you design your roof, as Boston gets more rain and snow that need to runoff on a higher slopes roof.

Then there is terrain. You could be designing at a place where there are many hills, or on flatland. Maybe your building has an entrance on top of the hill which then leaves room for the building to cantilever off of the back of the building.

Another important part of planning a site is knowing the surrounding area. You do not want to build a skyscraper in a rural area, and you most likely won’t need to design a farm in the middle of a city.

Having a site informs designers with much more information on how to start designing.

Visitor Station/Overlook Project

I have gotten to work on this project for the first 3 weeks of school. This location is surrounded by the national forest near Blacksburg, VA.

The main attraction of the site is on the west side where there is a 65’ drop to the ground. From the ground, the tree level also extends 100’ making the trees about 35’ taller than my site ground level.

This inspired me to cantilever my building off of the edge. Something that not many others accounted for was the tree line. So I designed my building so that you can still see overtop of the trees and all around the forest.

Since it is in the national forest, I knew that there are trails that go around for people to hike through. So in addition to my site, I created 2 new trails connecting back to the forest as a transition from exploration to experiencing the national forest.

Designing More Than Just A Building

When designing a project as an architecture student, one of the easiest things to overlook is the site.

Having a site when you design gives the building context and meaning.

If you just have pictures of the building alone, then it almost looks like just a blank page.

The project always exists beyond just the building itself. It is the landscape, the sidewalks, the roads, and everything else.

I admit I haven’t always done all of these things myself, but it is never to late to start. It will always be helpful to work with in your design process.


Thanks for tuning into this week’s blog post. I hope you enjoyed it and if you haven’t yet, go watch the video on my project. Lastly if you’ve read down this far congratulations you received $50 off on a custom art order. As always, Dream Big!

Published by Alonzo Colon

Architecture Student at Virginia Tech

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