We immediately set out to help turn his shower-inspired dream into a reality. In addition to housing the complicated ecosystem that was required to house delicate butterflies, my main goal was to take the visitor on an emotional journey. This would be an architectural experience that could parallel the feelings one must go through after a diagnosis with cancer, but one that could also offer bright hope and flight out of that darkness.
In the resulting design, the journey into the building requires a subtle sloped descent into a partially submerged underground section. This subterranean area serves, not only as a foyer to the pavilion, but also as an educational area and theater. After leaving this area, one enters into the glassy pavilion, spiraling on an upwardly ramped path that eventually culminates in a cupolaed sacred structure in the epicenter. This continuous walk from darkness into light was crucial in the message of the building; a veritable built pilgrimage from despair to hope.
The Genesis Pavilion (as it was aptly named) is currently in the process of seeking funds. You can learn more about their noble aspiration here. Dickie and Joy, no small visionaries themselves, are already seeing this initial pavilion as the first of many. They see these glowing beacons, filled with fluttering, delicate lives scattered across the country, offering much needed optimism and grace to all those touched by breast cancer.
I sincerely hope their bighearted dream takes flight.
Greg Tankersley for McAlpine Tankersley
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