Architect: Anmahian Winton Architects
Location: Central New Hampshire
Category: Up to $1.5m in construction costs (category two)
This astronomical observatory rejects the traditional dome in favor of a synthesized architectural form, emphasizing the observatory’s aesthetic relationship to its stark geographic context.
This private astronomical observatory is located in the mountains of central New Hampshire on a site characterized by gray granite outcroppings. Gemma’s siting, form, and materials are rooted in the practical requirements of minimizing building movement and dissipating heat gain, and in symbolic relationships to both celestial and environmental landmarks. The design rejects a traditional dome in favor of a synthesized architectural form, providing more usable space and emphasizing the observatory’s aesthetic relationship to its stark geographic context. Patterned zinc cladding integrates the site’s irregular topography with the building’s geometry. Its dimension, color, and patina evoke a material relationship to the austere environment. A helical stair leads from the cantilevered entry canopy to a fissure in the cladding that opens onto the exterior observation deck. Continuing, it arrives at the primary viewing platform inside the faceted turret, whose corner window frames Polaris when locked in the southern cardinal position.