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Gemma Observatory

Gemma Observatory

Gemma Observatory sits on a remote mountain summit in New Hampshire, integrating environmental, geological, and celestial influences into a nexus connecting earth and sky.

The design rejects a traditional dome in favor of a synthesized architectural form responsive to the stark geological context. Terraced concrete platforms transition between bedrock and the building foundation, knitting together natural and man-made landscapes. Zinc cladding evokes a material relationship to the gray granite outcroppings in its dimension, color and patina, and supports functional needs for heat transfer and formal adaptability. The cladding’s unconventional pattern mediates between the topography and the building’s geometry, and reflects Gemma’s orientation to both geographic and celestial landmarks.

The observation turret and viewing hatch can be hand operated by a single person. When the turret is locked into the southern cardinal position, its corner window frames Polaris. The journey is complete, as functional and abstract merge in a unique architectural expression.


Gemma Observatory

  • Central New Hampshire
  • United States
Completion: 2016
Used materials
  • Wood
  • Facade cladding

Type of Building

Architect Office