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Carrie Furnace

How can the design of space and wayfinding be utilized to purposefully influence human decisions?

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I, as well as five classmates, proposed a plan to the non-profit, Rivers of Steel, for how to transform what is currently a tour-only furnace into a public park with a historical presence. My area of focus was the wayfinding for entering the park.

WHAT IS CARRIE FURNACE?

Carrie Furnace is the only pre-World War II iron furnace left in the Pittsburgh area. Given the rich history of Pittsburgh in relation to the American Steel Industry, the importance of Carrie Furnace cannot be understated.

Final Concept

A Museum

To welcome a visitor into the park, there needed to be a clear experience threshold separating the modern world from Carrie Furnace. The museum is also a hub for previously disconnected bike trails, and a crucial educational component.

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An earth berm would be able integrate into the current structure of the furnace and surrounding area without distracting from Carrie itself. Compared to a modern architectural design, an earth berm felt far less intrusive.

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Main cyclist entrance

The closer bikers get to Carrie, the more obscured their sight line becomes. The fork in the road features a reveal of the furnace and encourages cyclists to turn right; the widening of the path affords slowing down and stopping.

Entrance from parking lot

Parking spots are a single row in order to increase the distance between visitor’s cars and the park, further emphasizing the separation of the modern world from Carrie. Visitors have decreased visibility as they walk to the museum, encouraging them to enter the park itself, versus spending time looking at the furnace next to their car.

Secondary cyclist entrance

Bikers on this path would have a choice over whether to enter the furnace or to avoid it. The reward for entering the park, the option we want bikers to take, is a clearly superior vantage point of Carrie Furnace.

Museum Interior

The museum itself is small, meant only to provide a simple education to visitors. The goal was for a visitor to spend minimal time in the museum, so they could experience the wonder of the furnace firsthand.

There is only one main room, leaving few options for a visitor to explore before entering the park. 

The curving interior is meant to draw visitors away from the museum and into the park while separating the museum content from the visual experience of seeing Carrie.

Process

Iteration 1

My first museum was intended to feel small and light, clearly subordinate to Carrie Furnace. However, the museum felt too modern and was a visual distraction from the furnace itself.

Iteration 2

With this model, I experimented with immersing bikers into the furnace grounds with a path leading to the top of the retaining wall. This is where I first began using visual stimuli to try to encourage certain user behaviors.

References