McGrane, Kurt Ryan.
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Continued population growth is inevitable to Montana's future. This can be seen as a source of great alarm or great opportunity. If suburbanization of Montana's agricultural and wild mountain landscapes continues, eventually that which makes Montana so appealing - its open space - will disappear. Future growth should be seen as an opportunity to densify and enrich Montana's existing urban centers. However, prevailing attitudes of what it means to live in Montana as well as economic and infrastructural constructs, currently promote a gradually expanding low density sprawl. As important as open landscapes and nature are to the identity and appeal of Montana, continued population growth means man-made structures are increasingly becoming the dominant presence on the land. Perhaps instead of pressing low density architecture outward over the landscape, the landscape can be drawn into the architecture. By providing an urban park of densely layered activity but defined by a spacial characteristic of openness, a surrounding urbanity can be made possible which still retains Montana's defining character and appeal. This project will be a proactive architectural act, an urban catalyst for change. It will utilize the concepts of Landscape Infrastructure, Terrain Vague, and The Fold to give a sense of ambiguity and slipperyness to the program and allow it to relate to both urban and ecological frameworks. This ambiguity will allow for the interpretive freedom necessary for the assertion of individual identity to occur, as well as give the project an ability to adapt to future changes in the urban (and rural) fabric. Individual programs will be defined based on local needs, and where these separate (and perhaps strikingly disparate) programs intersect, nodes of unpredictable excitement can manifest. Introducing a public, open ended, multi-layered program designed with both specificity and ambiguity will provide an answer to the western conflict between freedom of the individual and the shared environmental responsibility of land stewardship.