The Temple and the Forgotten Canyon—

Competition of Competitions: Taking Buildings Down

2016—Competition, 1st Place Hosted by Storefront for Art and Architecture
As Untitled Studio

Modern progress sits upon a narrative of how humanity ought to interact with the landscape: above, victorious, terrific. We challenge this narrative. What if Native tribes had equal say about the fate of landscapes? What if we valued experience as much as money? What if species had the same rights to land as humans did? What if growth in inhospitable conditions were honored rather than seen as a war for resources?

We desire the “removal” of one of our largest temples, an infrastructural compound that exemplifies growth, progress, and development, an ideal object to confront our environmental failings and to usher in a new cultural plurality: Glen Canyon Dam. The second tallest dam at its time of construction, it created the second largest reservoir in the US, Lake Powell, initiating what has been called the “greatest environmental disaster in United States history.” Habitat was swallowed, a forgotten home of 6 now extinct species. Indigenous peoples’ holy lands and significant archeological sites were drowned. Massive landscapes of dramatic and sought after geological formations were glossed over.

We encourage the chaos of deleting unnecessary and violent infrastructure. Without Glen Canyon Dam’s running turbines and the nearby Navajo Coal Generating Station, which relies on the reservoir of Lake Powell to cool itself, power conservation measures will be implemented for Arizona and California. Navajo and Hopi tribes may re-invest in renewable and alternative energy sources with the help of the Southwest states and continued revenue for an already marginalized people. Otherwise-stagnant water may finally reach Mexican families. A new park may be established, a landscape unique to this earth opened for new memories. Boating along the Colorado river will be preserved within the sinuous walls of the canyons.