Intersecting Tracks proposes a framework plan for the McDonald Observatory, a world-renowned observatory in the Davis Mountains of West Texas. The site was chosen for its remoteness and famous dark skies. Today the observatory's grounds are just as well known for their unique "sky island" ecology, their geologic uniqueness to Texas, and for surviving the destructive Rock House fire in 2011.
Intersecting Tracks prioritizes expanding programming for visitors and researchers, enhancing ecosystem performance, engaging a sense of place through experience, and building local relationships. Two "tracks" of research, one looking up at the skies, the other down at the soil, plants, and animals, will coexist on this remote, 800-acre satellite campus. And four physical "tracks", trail loops of differing lengths, allow both researchers, land managers, and visitors to explore the site. These trails link the varying terrain, plant communities, water features, and telescopes, weaving research and experience through the landscape. The 20-30 acre plots shaped by the trail network become research plots for both bison grazing and controlled burns.
Finally, a newly-designed visitor center acts as a hub for these four trail loops. Visitors explore a series of enclosed spaces designed to exhibit the unique geology, hydrology, biology, and astronomical research that the site hosts.