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Los Alamos, New Mexico

When the air begins to cool and daylight hours shorten, pine cones begin to open, bringing forth the fruit for people and animals. Locally foraged pinon nuts are cherished in New Mexico. Gathering pine nuts is an important yearly ritual for native New Mexico residents. For the Native American tribes living in pueblos, it was a staple of their diet.

Between 2000 and 2005, the combination of drought, fire and disease killed more than 50 percent of the pinyon tree in Northern New Mexico.

An estimated 350 million pinons died statewide in the early 2000s and millions more died a decade later when harsh drought condition led to severe beetle infestations.

The devastation of the pine forests is a signal of forthcoming ecological changes and negative impacts. Pine trees are a key ingredient in the health of the surrounding ecosystem. Conserving and restoring the pine forests are critical to sustaining the symbolic relationship between people, animals, and plants their shared environment.

Upon closer look at Los Alamos, the city bears, rich layers of pinecone landscape and related cultural history. ​However, due to the climate change and drought, pinyons are dying off. The greatest die-off is occurring. Lòs Alamos, a county with a respectable population, at the edge of the dying pine forest called this research attention.

From Ancestral pueblo dwelling to homestead living. In the early 20th century, the Los Alamos became a center for nuclear weapon research called, Manhattan project. Even though 50 years passed from the atomic bomb experiment, the site is still classified and isolated for privileges with limited life of local communities. 

Thus, this project imagines the possibility of Los Alamos as a center for ecology and culture which pays homage to the historical and ecological conditions, while also serving as a site that demonstrates a regenerative future. 

As this research provides combined program of researching, eating, and learning, the Los Alamos will play an important role in regenerating pine forest while teaching the next generations about sciences, ecology, and the environment. This project is not only to produce more native trees on our site, but also create future generations to value nature and become its avid protectors.  


This project is inspired from both the function and formal language of indigenous architecture. The formal language of indigenous building kiva has a clear connection between sky basket, earth bowl, and underground.

This connection represents not only the biodiversity of the ecosystem but also highlights the formal connection to nature. Thus, the building strategy is exaggerating this sequence of connections. As the project uses ground, and soil types as the building materials, it poses the building itself as landscape. 

Thus, the project highlights the dynamic sectional forest experience. The research is proposing an elevated pathway across the small valley on the site as an opportunity for exhibition that allows the visitors to experience all perspectives and lifecycle of the pine tree. The buildings are situation in the landscape as sky baskets and earth bowl with a consistent path as the datum to navigate the landscape.

Kiva - Sky, Ground, Unerground


With a research program at the main entrance, leading directly to the museum at the edge, with a restaurant bisecting cross on the side. This project strategically divided zones of pine tree based on age and condition to foster natural succession and fight against pine beetles. In addition to the elevated path, this project also has ground trails that allow visitors to experience the ground conditions and topographic change. 

Both the laboratories and indoor pine nursery are open to the public, working as one of an education exhibitions program for living museums. The pathway will lead visitors from the Sky Basket to experience the greater forest landscape.


For pine tree conservation research, the nature vegetation division prompted us with two key regions for pine tree conservation intervention. An experimental pine nursery that focuses on bridging the barren landscape and the native forest. And young pine forests that allow greater fungi dominate in the soil to cultivate natural succession.


Before the final destination to the Pinyon Museum, visitors have the opportunity to experience pinyon meals. The restaurant is posed as the earth bowl, where visitors will descend down from the pathway to inhabit the earth. Visitors can enjoy Pine nuts inspired cuisines and Pine needle tea.

Visitors are exposed to the native way of pine nuts and pine needles are harvested and roasted. Through eating, this research hopes to welcome more people in this active participation in pine ecology and pinyon tradition conservation. 


The pinyon museum is inspired by the concept of indigenous sky basket and earth bowl. 

The exhibition takes place around the center plaza of pine tree. The ground is carved into the room and becomes the material of buildings such as roofs and walls. Thus, the integration between building and landscape, inside and outside, work together to present the history and culture of Los Alamos pine forest.

From the entrance, people will explore the public landscape exhibition space with the pinecone artifact, and it is naturally connected to the event space with the spectacular view of the canyon. After the visitors will further explore the enclosed exhibition program such as restoration lab with seedling archiving and showcase of pine tree growing. Then in the basement, collecting water from the sustainable roof system will work as another exhibition program that educates the importance of water in Los Alamos. Thus, the museum's overall program not only archive the past of the Los Alamos environment but also suggest the sustainable future of the site. The building itself does includes several sustainable features, such as the use of byproducts of local pinecones, which blends with the surrounding forest, natural daylighting, efficient insulation, and a pinecone system roof. 

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