Ithaca Satellite for the Glenn H. Curtiss Aviation Museum

headshot of a young man with dark hair wearing a black sweater
  • Andy Chen, B.Arch. 2020
  • Hometown Arcadia, California
  • Class ARCH 2102 Design IV
  • Instructor Ryan Ludwig

"Airplanes are like dreams. They are both temporary escapes. You may take off from the ground, but you must always still return to it."

The Glenn Curtiss Ithaca Satellite Aviation Museum is situated along a critical intersection along the Cayuga Inlet with views out towards the lake. Adjacent to a golf course featuring two large willow trees and a pre-existing dock, this project takes a radical approach to the flat site by excavating a large pond. The excavated earth is then used to build up a hill to add an element of natural verticality to the site while providing a way to "carve" into the ground to achieve the dark, processional sequence through the museum needed to view the specifically curated planes. Six Glenn Curtiss planes and one motorcycle generate their own specific exhibition spaces from sectional studies of the arched T-column, which vary the way light is brought into the museum. Conceived as an intimate experience with light, architecture, and the history of American aviation, the Glenn Curtiss Museum in Ithaca seeks to challenge the paradigm of "white box" museums as well as the traditional aviation museum model.