Slow Motion: The Spaces of Waiting at the Bainbridge Island Ferry Terminal
Wright, Michael Allen
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The beauty of the Puget Sound is succinctly captured in the thirty-five minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle to Bainbridge Island. This journey is a complete, and self-contained experience regardless of whether one commences it simply for pleasure or for the daily commute, and the complex character of arriving and departing leads to a diversity of expectations, through which the ferry terminal can be interpreted. The ferry terminal typology is defined physically by its position between land and sea. It is also defined temporally by the well-choreographed sequence of events that simultaneously animate and annihilate its spaces. In contemporary terminal design the efficient operation of traffic flows is the base framework upon which all other design decisions are made. Designing for a consistent experience is an admirable and difficult goal, however this goal often overshadows the subtle opportunities that arise when passengers find themselves outside of the framework of efficiency. These periods of waiting exhibit unique characteristics dependent upon a passengers place and direction in time and space, that ferry terminal architecture too often ignores. This thesis proposes to re-interpret the ferry terminal typology not as a skin covering an abstraction of efficiency but instead a background upon which the lives of those who travel to and from Bainbridge Island is enacted. The design reveals the social/physical/temporal interactions and provides waiting passengers with a better knowledge of their choices within the spaces of waiting. Existing simultaneously as a threshold to the Island and as a space for the enacting of commuter choreography, meaning in this space is derived from blurring the edge between elemental boundary and domestic familiarity. This tension between polarities which elevates the mundane act of waiting is achieved through an underlying ambiguity to the terminals design which mirrors the complexity of its transient inhabitants.
- Architecture