Design Study: A Human Place in the Network
The material palette of trucking guided the design of a distribution center and employee hub for Dollar General. Early sketches play with the dimensions and structural rhythms of a tractor-trailer.
The project finds an architecture within the context of the distribution network, embracing the aesthetic and transience of trucking to create a memorable and performative place for employee interaction, safety, and comfort.
Unlike the urban center, the context for a distribution center is based on the scale of massive machines rather than humans. The yellow portion here shows the human spaces—an employee parking lot, a connection spanning the roadway, and an employee hub.
The material palette – translucent glazing, oriented strand board, steel, and a company logo wall – all derive from trucks and transportation containers, and explore materiality, phenomenology and the production of mood and atmosphere with a determinate but non-representational value.
An enlarged tire tread pattern embedded into precast concrete panels adds a human layer of texture to what is typically a white box, providing differentiation and ownership for this portion of the building.
The design finds unexpected beauty in the materiality of trucking. Under the light through translucent panels, checkerplate wall coverings take on a crystalline, mirror-like quality.
Under daylight, a highly-polished concrete floor becomes almost veil-like, imbuing the big, simple room with depth. A walking figure appears to almost skate.
The sculptural connection from employee-parking to the distrbution center communicates a sense of ownership to staff members. Instead of using a corner column, the bridge bends toward the ground as a signature.
In the environment of a distribution center, with its bollards and valves, the elegance of the bending bridge elevates its context while honoring it.