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College of Architecture
Texas Tech University
Mail Stop 42091
Lubbock, Texas 79409
Phone 806-742-3136
Email: architecture@ttu.edu

SITE work — Project Statement

The Great Salt Lake is the remnant of prehistoric Lake Bonneville that existed from 30,000 to 10,000 years ago with significant changes in the water level recorded in wave cut terraces ringing the present day basin. The lake’s liminal edge, where land emerges from water, varies widely as even small vertical changes in water level impact significant horizontal coverage areas because of the relative shallowness of the basin topography. As a terminal lake there is no surface outlet. Evaporation is the primary method water leaves the basin. Inflows arrive primarily in seasonal snow melt through the Bear, Weber, Ogden, and Jordan rivers. The relationship between evaporation and inflow cause the lake level to drop and rise over time. The geomorphology of the lake bed contains an expansive basin of alkali and salt flats lining the vestigial saline water rich in mineral content from season evaporative cycles over millennia.

The Great Salt Lake Desert is America’s backyard: collecting land-uses, building programs, and expounding material history expelled from other parts of the country. The Great Salt Lake is the lowest and most remote portion of this desert—our nation’s entropic sink. As a fundamentally inhospitable landscape (no fish live there), it holds unique and extreme architectural challenges for even temporary occupation.


  • Assemble as comprehensive as possible qualitative and quantitative data about the geomorphology of prehistoric Lake Bonneville and the contemporary Great Salt Lake.
  • Describe and communicate the experiential characteristics of the liminal boundary between land and water at the edge of the Great Salt Lake.
  • Synthesize analog and digital data sets that describe the liminal conditions of the Great Salt Lake.
  • Share the collective data sets and documents with the whole studio.
  • Create performative models that can be used throughout GSLEP base station development.


  • Locate data collected within a timeline from the existence of prehistoric Lake Bonneville to present day — approx. 15,000 years. Identify as a group the sets of information needed: i.e. chemical composition and weather history — temperatures, precipitation and wind.
  • Map the vertical and horizontal extents of the Great Salt Lake currently and across recorded time.
  • Identify patterns of isolation in the shifting limits of the lake over time — monthly, seasonally, yearly, millennially.
  • Topographic and bathymetric data for use in physical and digital modeling.
  • Specific research collection teams are to be formed once collection tasks are finalized.
  • Construct collective spatial model — physical and digital — for use in the in the project.
  • Share the collective data sets and documents with the whole studio.


  • Physical and digital model(s) of the Great Salt Lake registering the liminal and dynamic boundary condition of water and land over time.
  • Supporting data/evidence, maps, charts, tables, texts, images.


  • Assigned: 16 February 2015
  • Due: 13 March 2015
  • 15% of course total.

SITE work outline

2015 Liminal Studio Studio Home