Design began with a series of mappings across multiple scales: region, territory, and site. The focus of these studies was to inform a thesis that integrates the project to its wider social and geographic context and to select a site for Cornell's research campus within Arnot Research Forest.
When studying across these scales, a pattern of forest structure was discovered. The gorges of this region in New York organize the region dominated by forests creating clear breaks and boundaries. Potential sites were examined for the location of the research campus. From west to east, the sites were the Water and Soil Research Facility, Animal Research Center, and the Field Campus. Ultimately the location of the Field Campus was selected for its existing culture, infrastructure, and function as the main gate into the research forest. In addition, the site strongly relates to the valley created by the Banfield Creek that breaks through the center of the Arnot forest. Due to its existing culture and traditions, the research campus design aims to emulate the old Field Campus, while improving the link to its landscape. The most sacred element of the Field Campus is the open field that all buildings bound. This field is the location of all outdoor training and social events for residents and visitors within the Arnot Forest.
The research campus moves from the valley edge to the open field to the forest edge. Architecture is used to articulate the edge conditions or extend past them creating a design that considers the site and its buildings as a single living ecosystem. Ultimately, a research campus at the edge of Cornell’s Arnot Research Forest aim to spatially define the physical and experiential link between a research facility and the landscape of research, creating a new social framework intertwined with the land.