Pitts, Charlotte, School of Architecture, University of Virginia
Pancorbo Crespo, Luis, AR, University of Virginia

The project emerges from a legacy of over one hundred years of relentless extraction of gold, silver, lead, copper, and zinc ore, which shaped the physical and cultural landscape of the intermountain American West. Colorado’s Southern Rocky Mountains, in particular, contain over 140,000 abandoned hardrock mines, concentrated in the San Juan Mountains.

Historically, sites of extraction operationalize landscapes for the advancement of economic growth and state power. ‘Extraction’, here, can be understood not only as the act of forcefully taking out, stripping, or removing something irreplaceable from the geologic strata’, but also considers the material articulation of an ideology that converts nature into commodity.

While past and active research continues to interrogate the histories, processes, and material flows of active hardrock mines across the globe, less attention has been given to the futures of post-extraction, or post-mining, territories. What possible futures exist for post-mining landscapes in the intermountain west and what roles these sites might play in framing how we understand our relationship to the non-human world around us. How might post-extractive sites be transformed to reveal the complex historical entanglements embedded within the land? Can a new understanding of their past and possible futures help us think differently about our day-to-day lives? Since all active mines across the globe will eventually transition into a post-extractive state, I think it is imperative to consider the afterlife of these spaces.

As such, the project reimagines a series of three post-mining sites in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado as system of site works and outposts along an existing indigenous trail-turned mining trail- turned recreational trail that reveal latencies embedded within the landscape. Through leveraging an approach akin to acupuncture, the network of three sites unfold distinctively within their immediate environments - orient, in the valley, measure, on a ridge, and ascend, on a peak - as points of discovery and recognition. After Extraction harnesses the episodic moments of the acupunctural scheme in order to call attention to often overlooked elements of significance. They collectively operate as openings, portals, and instruments for a new reading of a potentially familiar landscape.

MArch (Master of Architecture)
extraction, mining, Colorado, landscape
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