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Concrete Nurse Logs:

Spawning Biodiversity from Ballard’s Century-Old Locks

Hillary Pritchett (Master's Thesis, 2016)

This thesis embraces the task of biodiversity conservation within the realm of architecture. In the midst of an anthropogenic mass extinction on Earth—the most menacing of the current environmental crises—it advocates for the prioritization of biodiversity conservation in any design project. A bold articulation of the attitude that has engendered mass extinction, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-operated Hiram M. Chittenden Locks is emblematic of its early twentieth century origins for its rigid hydrologic control of an entire watershed, severely impacting the pattern and success of migration for several populations of Pacific salmon. As Seattle commemorates the centennial of the opening of one of its most popular yet least understood sites, this thesis re-envisions a complex that continues to fulfill the requirements of human water transportation but with increased biodiversity as a defining goal. The proposed phasing approach looks forward—and backward—centuries and considers the existing historical structures as metaphorical nurse logs that evade obsolescence through their decay.

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