Intermarine is a marine logistics and ocean transport provider focusing on the needs of breakbulk, heavylilft, drybulk, and project cargo with a fleet of more than 55 advanced multi-purpose vessels. The project is located at industrial terminals – a 95 acre site directly adjacent to the Houston Ship Channel functioning as Intermarine’s primary load and staging center for cargo and projects. Two main work groups were co-located with the balance of the program dedicated to observation spaces and conferences. It functions as both a terminal visitor center for Intermarine’s clients and as a port operations facility.
We started the project with a myriad of site and building configurations to optimize the building’s potential to serve as a business development strategy for the company. We sited the building at the terminus of Industrial Road and then dodged every existing subterranean obstacle imaginable with the building’s relatively small foundation – approx 5,000 sf.
We simultaneously began studying the form-making possibilities of shipping containers as an obvious means of indexing the company’s industry. Combination strategies were studied in search of the optimal stacking logic… perpendicular or parallel? We pondered the ability of a literal compilation of containers to equate to something architectural like Moshe Safdie’s Habitat 67. But in the end, the literal use of containers provided something a little less than architectural form – untransformed. So we took what we learned and moved forward…
After determining that the interior environment produced from the literal strategy was less than desirable, we began studying various elements and materials that could act as an artifice to index what we found provocative about the shipping processes. We decided that artifice was the active catalyst to architecturalizing the containers. Referring to the containers opened iconographic and spacial opportunities that actually using them cannot. No shipping containers were harmed during the making of this building.