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UNLV Libraries -> Architecture Studies Library -> Las Vegas Guides and Collections ->
AIA Nevada Design & Service Awards Archive -> 2008 awards



Entry number: COL08003
Project Name: McCarran Ranch Shade Structure
Building Type: Shade Structure
Completion Date: March 2007
Architect: Cathexes, LLC
Building Location: Washoe County, NV

Design Team:
General Contractor: AGC Apprentice Program
Structural Engineer: Cathexes, LLC
Photographer: Cathexes, LLC

Narrative/Project Description:
Type of Project: Shade Structure in marsh restoration area
Completion Date: March 2007
Type of Construction: Type B - non rated
Materials Used: Wood, copper, steel, concrete

Statement of Design Approach:
It was expressed to the Architect by the Owners and Donors that what was wanted was a modern structure that was evocative of the surroundings and the Native and local traditions. Further, it was to follow the footprint of an existing "amphitheater" and fire pit already on the site. Finally, it was necessary to produce a design that would be economical as we moved forward into construction, and that would have minimal maintenance considerations.

The design selected is evocative of both modern structure and native building traditions. It combines concrete, wood, copper, and iron, and it follows the original foot print of the existing amphitheater. The primary cantilevered beams of the shade pavilion will have a natural and organic appearance. The appearance of the natural materials will change somewhat as the wood and copper age. This will enhance the sense of an organic structure that really belongs to the site. Thus, the beams, while being strong and structurally sound, will develop natural features such as slight twists and cracks.

This structure of woven wood and copper becomes a tighter weave laterally as the wind increases from the west, and is tighter overhead to follow the movement of the sun. An apprentice program was used to construct the structure. The project was used as an educational tool for reading plans, engaging with architects and engineers and constructing a more "customized" structure. Materials and services were donated by other outside entities.

Centuries before the first western settlers reached the spot now known as the McCarran Ranch, this area was characterized by dense willow jungles and vast meadowlands teeming with wildlife. The Truckee River was so sinuous and lush as to be virtually impassible. The abundance of the river and surrounding country were central to the survival and culture of the Paiute peoples of Pyramid Lake.

In 1862, not long after John Fremont's famous exploration of the Truckee River canyon, an Irish immigrant named Patrick McCarran laid claim to the land that would become the McCarran Ranch. In 1878, Mr. and Mrs. McCarran and their two-year-old son Patrick moved from Reno to the ranch to raise sheep. The McCarran Ranch stayed in the family for over a hundred years.

The Nature Conservancy, meanwhile, had joined others in the late 1980's in an effort to restore waters to the Truckee River and reverse the long and precipitous decline of Pyramid Lake. In 1995, as progress was being made in securing water rights for the lake, TNC turned its attention to restoring the floodplain and in-stream habitat along the lower river. This was the year that TNC began exploring the purchase of the floodplain portions of McCarran Ranch, and the five miles of river running through it.

In 2000, TNC entered into a joint agreement with the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center (TRI) to divide the property such that TNC would acquire 305 acres along the entire length of the property, while TRI would acquire the balance of the ranch's 1,600 acres for its emerging industrial park. The transaction was finally completed in 2002.

Over the next five years, TNC restored the 305 acres of McCarran Ranch it now owns to a condition that the ancient Paiutes, John C. Fremont, and other early explorers would recognize. The restoration project calls for reconstruction of the river channel to reverse human-induced changes made over the past 100 years.

The McCarran Ranch Shade Structure is a memorial, resting space, gathering space and performing space as well as a beautiful and functional structure, located in the heart of a meandering restoration of the Truckee River. The structure takes cues from the Native American structures that used to inhabit this area. Woven shelters were used from the willows on the site as protection from the elements.




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Material in ASL Library: Form Core Boards, Project Description Form, Exteriors Photos, Location Map, Site Plan, Floor Plan, and Interior Photos

These images are low-resolution reproductions of the images provided for the AIA Nevada Design Awards. All materials should be considered copyrighted and may not be reproduced or used without permission.

Monday, 17-Dec-2012 10:50:05 PST