San Andreas: Architecture for the Fault

Advanced Architecture Studio 4

Spring 2013

Geoff Manaugh + Nicola Twilley, critics

The San Andreas Fault is an 810-mile landscape feature cutting diagonally across the state of California, from the ocean waters north of San Francisco to the deserts of the U.S./Mexico border, marking a stark and exposed division between the North American and Pacific tectonic plates. It is a landscape on the move. Seismologists estimate that, in one million years, the two opposing sides of the fault will have slid past one another to the extent of physically sealing closed the entrance to San Francisco Bay and dragging Los Angeles more than 15 miles north of its present position.

For generations, the fault itself has inspired equal parts scientific fascination and pop-cultural fear, seen—rightly or not—as the inevitable source of the “Big One,” an impending super-earthquake that will devastate California, flatten San Francisco, and wreck bridges, houses and roads throughout greater Los Angeles.

Our studio explored the possibility of a future San Andreas Fault National Park—asking students what it would mean to preserve such a dynamic and dangerous landscape, where on the fault an interpretively successful park should be located and what architectural forms are most appropriate for mediating the Earth’s overwhelming seismic energy for the visiting public.

Lina Peilin Ayala A/B
Ricardo Vega C/D/E
Whitney Starbuck Boykin F