Seal Silo

The Marine Mammal Center (MMC) in Sausalito, California, treats elephant seals injured by “shark bites, gunshot wounds, and untenable toxins in their liquid habitat,” Architecture magazine explains. “Half of all injured pinnipeds and cetaceans found in the United States – typically 700 over recent years, mostly reported by vigilant fishermen – are treated here.”
More relevant to the present website, however, the MMC is now receiving a much-needed, multi-million dollar architectural upgrade – and the new design fascinatingly incorporates a derelict “pair of Nike missile silos.”

[Image: Architecture Magazine].

“A dozen anti-aircraft missiles were first secured here in two 3,000-square-foot underground berths,” Architecture tells us. “Soon, one of those deep concrete wells will contain all of the hospital facility’s water processing equipment, keeping it away from the sun’s damaging rays and freeing the territory above ground for recovery functions… The other silo will contain long-term freezer storage of animal tissue specimens for study.”
Let’s hope neither of them accidentally go off.
Of course, reusing missile silos for architectural purposes is nothing new – and, in skimming the original article, I actually thought the silos would be turned into functioning aquariums – but the project still works as a brilliant engagement with existing site conditions.
You can see one or two more images of the design at the website of Gyroscope, Inc., the project architects –

– where, for instance, we find the above diagram. “Because the center operates around the clock,” Architecture explains, “illumination for night had to be directed in a manner sensitive to the fact that animals in the bay use light for migration. A portion of the pools will always be shaded by overhead awnings – many of which will be lined with photovoltaic panels, thanks to a generous donor – giving the animals a choice of where to hang out, and cutting down on cooling costs.”
On the other hand, at least one question remains: seeing as how the missile silos will not be turned into functioning aquariums, is there an aquarium avant-garde anywhere else – and, if so, what does it look like? My provisional vote is for a series of truly gargantuan blimps dragging huge, transparent, cable-tethered aquariums full of coral reefs, fish, and blue whales through the skies of Baghdad.
The insurgency might end right then and there: dazzled, confused, feeling touched by the miraculous, the only thing the militias will know how to do is just put down their guns – and stare.

3 thoughts on “Seal Silo”

  1. A fantastic conclusion. Forget that old hat idea of ‘divide and conguer’ and replace it wiht ‘confuse and conquer’, ‘cept without the conquering bit. People only respond to acts of aggression with more fear and aggression. But if you confuse them, they’re response is almost comical and harmless. Cheers to that!

  2. marc tsurumaki did an aquarium studio a few years back at columbia (where he has taught a whole series of water-related studios). the site was the central park zoo – the projects were fantastic and dealt with nature as a construction, different curatorial strategies, etc.

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