A 20,000sf Rest Area
Salt Flats, Utah

Spring 2011 Design Studio
University of Cincinnati

University of Cincinnati Graduate Research Award

In an inhospitable environment the laying down of a blanket or carpet establishes place. we have only to look at navajo rugs, hopi sand paintings, or australian petroglyphs, to recognize the human need to establish and represent an underlying geometry.


In order to avoid either literally or psychologically getting lost in a vast and empty landscape. the persian carpet, for example, places us in a garden, a richly imagined courtyard providing refuge from the existential silence of the desert.



Carpet draws from imagery associated
with interstate 80


The harsh environment of the salt flats is exaggerated by the overwhelming brightness of the sun’s reflection off the white salt. The proposed rest stop inhabits the immense shadow created by a hovering “trucker/traveler” carpet. The carpet’s shadow mediates both the climate and the scale of the landscape, and orients the traveler in space and time. At night, resting beneath this carpet, one could imagine climbing aboard it and flying out amongst the stars.



We physically and imaginatively manipulate the desert so we can travel safely through it by imposing the most basic of all rectilinear geometries upon it, from petroglyphs to maps to highway signs. The construction process of the rest stop follows this same principle.

step 1.

Locate 3’ installation pole and set up tent support system, taking into account the carpet geometries.
step 2.

Stretch fabric over the structure. 90,000 square feet of photovoltaic thin film placed on the upper surface will collect an ample supply of solar energy to support the needs of the rest stop.
step 3.

Situate concrete platforms according to the noon shadow on the summer solstice. These platforms house the distribution system and hook-up for the well-water obtained from the acquifer below.
step 4.

Drop in pre-fabricated rooms with composting toilets. during the off-season -- when the salt flats flood -- the rooms can be removed and stored for safety.