Balmori Associates and Leeser Architecture are the recipients of the 2008 AIA, New York Chapter Design Award Project Honor
The Museum, its Scientific Research Center and Laboratory were established to study not only Siberian mammoths, but also Yakutsk’s Permafrost layer: a condition that makes the ground surface prone frost heave. With each freezing and thawing cycle, soil and stones shift into self organizing patterns and creates a unique condition known only to that region. Balmori Associates developed the plan of making a permafrost landscape, and letting this respond and be derived from its context. This integration of interface between structure and nature, the trademark of Balmori Associates, provided the twist that ultimately helped the project to win.
The interior of the museum is covered with gardens that cascade down a sloped surface and help to create an healthy indoor climate. Lush mats of moss and lichen, the natural insulators of permafrost ground grow between latticework of pathways. Each moss and lichen requires different growing substrates (stone, wood, gravel, etc.) which present an opportunity for sculptural design. Based on patterned ground formations that occur above permafrost, the landscape design is both aesthetically and ecologically reminiscent of the local natural patterns.. All plants chosen are native to Eastern Siberia and are showcased as well in the extensive outdoor gardens. The Museum is to be completed in 2010.
Balmori Associates, founded in 1990, is a design firm recognized for its work in integrating architecture, urban planning and landscape architecture into complex urban projects. The firm seeks to incorporate innovative sustainable systems and patterns of use within an overarching sense of place. Balmori Associates combines a high level of artistic design with a deep understanding of ecological principles.
Competition: World Mammoth and Permafrost Museum in the city of Yakutsk in the Republic of Sakha-Yakutia
First Prize: Balmori Associates + Leeser Architecture
Project Team: Dr. Diana Balmori, Mark Thomann, Sangmok Kim, Catherine Byun, Kim Cooper ( March 2008 ) Balmori Associates and Leeser Architecture have recently been awarded the AIA New York Chapter Design Award Project Honor for their winning competition entry for the Woolly Mammoth and Permafrost Museum in Yakutsk, Siberia.