The project was to design a transportation education center (a trucker school) on Interstate 40 in Amarillo, Texas. Included in the design program is a bio-diesel truck stop, repair facilities, convenience store, and local food diner. The site and its relation to I-40 is unique, in that it must perform at multiple scales: Interstate 40 is a major artery of goods across the United States from Barstow, California to Wilmington, North Carolina, with Amarillo almost midway between the two. Therefor, this multi-service truck stop must respond to the community of Amarillo along with the thousands of truckers and families traveling from hundreds or thousands of miles away via Interstate 40.

Our solution called for a giant "wing" lifted over the site. This allows us to tuck all of the pedestrian scale program elements (school, lounge, offices, etc) under this wing, safely above the vehicle traffic below. The wing acts as a filter for vehicle traffic with fueling for both trucks and cars, truck repair bays, truck wash bays and truck scales all under the canopy formed by the wing.

This massive horizontal wing, which both reflects and frames the relentless horizon in West Texas, is broken with a small garden, punctuated by a 150' tower. At the summit lies the truck stop's restaurant, with 360° views of the Amarillo landscape, including Cadillac Ranch less than a mile away. The tower is clad in black metal panels with small fins specifically designed to absorb light, making it significantly darker than any paint alone could offer, and much much darker than seems possible or natural. At night, the effect is reversed and the light emitting from the diner windows lights up the night sky like a beacon.

In the 1940's during WWII, it was common to use Naval Recognition Manuals with pictures and details about ships to help identify unknown vessels. The easiest and most reliable way to identify a ship was by its silhouette on the horizon line. This idea became a major component of the design for our truck stop. The approach to the site from the West (Eastbound I-40) is a flat, straight drive for over 6 miles on axis with the tower and directly perpendicular to the structure. Even traveling at the posted 65 mph, drivers headed towards the truck stop would have 10 minutes to watch the building grow out of the horizon line. The truck stop needed a strong, iconic silhouette that people could recognize.

The project required design at all scales, from site planning and major formal gestures down to small details in the design of egress stairs and truck parking that still have a tremendous effect on the overall character of the project.

Another part of the design process was to invent a series of billboards to advertise our truck stop. Our proposal called for a series of black pillars scattered across the United States along I-40, each clad in the same material as the truck stop's tower, the hope being that these austere "monoliths" would invoke curiosity ,and in their search for answers, travelers would find their way to the truck stop. The advertisements also serve as a tongue-in-cheek nod to Stanley Kubrick.

For additional information about the project, visit the class website.

Professor: Chris Taylor
Spring 2010


This project was completed in collaboration Stephen Roy and Sunny Tang. 
The images presented here are pieces of the project that I am primarily responsible for.