Elevation Station Preview: to-g(R)o

May 31st, 2012 : : : :

Provisions “to-go” are regularly of the “fast food”, unmemorable, non-contextual type, but not in the case of to-g(R)o. Whereas the “fast food” custom carries the association of a standardized product from a globalized chain or franchise, to-g(R)o is intended to succeed beyond the solitary condition of serving as a temporal dining environment. This take-away outlet is designed to not only provide savory, sustainably-farmed foods presented in an extremely appropriate, exclusive, and unforgettable manner, but also to propagate a singular event into a larger faction through certain portions of the designed composition and procedures of the anticipated protocol.  The proposition of to-g(R)o is intended to conceptually embody the multifaceted phenomena which emerges from the anthology of the correlated perceptions and events of; colonization, afforestation > deforestation > reforestation, and organized complexity all within an ambiguous milieu.

The formal geometry of to-g(R)o (Plate 01, Fig. 01/Fig. 02) was developed to abstractly depict themes at multiple scales simultaneously while providing various seating and lounging opportunities for its occupants who wish to dine. These depictions range from the observation of a turgid plant cell seen through a microscope, to the rolling hills surrounding Omaha, NE perceived from the ground, to the highly rationalized, gridded farmland of the American Midwest perceived from the air.

To-g(R)o is constructed from 375 sheets of 40” x 80” corrugated cardboard (Plate 01, Fig. 03).  The stock material was laminated in sets of three (Plate 01, Fig. 04) and CNC milled to produce 630 individual, interlocking sections of material (Plate 01, Fig. 05)  and divided into 33 modules (Plate 02, Fig. 01) that combine to produce the 14’ x 20’ dining environment.

Once assembled, the surface will be populated with hundreds of strategically placed collars affixed into the cells of the cardboard structure to provide support for 150 tree saplings and hundreds of poplar veneer serving vessels from which the food* is eaten (Plate 02, Fig. 02).  The trees, which are housed in transparent plastic tubes are meant to be taken to-go by each guest and planted in a location of their choosing.  Along with the tree tube itself, the guest will remove the laser etched collar (Plate 02, Fig. 03) that is designed to be coupled with the tree once planted to both aid in the regulation of moisture and deter unwanted growth at base of the tree.  Labels adhered to the tree tube (Plate 02, Fig. 04) offer two methods of linking directly to care instructions for the tree provided by Arbor Day Farm.

At the start of the elevate event, to-g(R)o, untouched by the 120 anticipated guests will be in it’s most systemically designed, yet unnatural state.  The trees will be placed in a concentrated zone within the surface that provides protection from direct sun exposure, establishing a “microforest”.  The serving vessels will be spread evenly throughout the remaining territory (Plate 03, Fig. 01) to create a field condition that reflects the uncultivated, yet highly organized condition of a natural prairie.

As each rotation of twenty occupants remove, displace, and alter the arrangement of the field to accommodate desired dining positions, the surface will display a shifting surface aesthetic reflecting the natural dining and social performance of the event (Plate 03, Fig. 02).  After six rotations of twenty guests occupy the surface, the resulting transformation from a lush and bountiful environment to a barren beige structure is intended to reflect the traversing, claiming and re-appropriating of territory as observed through historical accounts of human activity (i.e. colonization and deforestation due to urban sprawl).

It is only after to-g(R)o is transplanted to the grounds of Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City and its cells are filled with soil and seed (Plate 04, Fig. 01)that it returns to a point of homeostasis; the cardboard erodes and is replaced by berms of grass and other vegetation (Plate 04, Fig. 02), creating an augmented landform to serve as a permanent picnicking area.


“Micro Farm Scapes” – selections of farm bounty served with edible soil and micro “pastures”:

“Sunny Side Ham” – TD Niche Farm Heirloom Pork, carrot-horseradish emulsion
“Prairie Fire” – Perfect Ten Ranch organic bison, juniper, smoke
“Chicken or the Egg” – Plum Creek Chicken confit, pickled egg, Woody Creek Farm Lavendar aioli

Additional Credit:

Lied Lodge & Conference Center at Arbor Day Farm

Brian Halder

Arbor Day Farm

RDG Dahlquist Art Studio (Special thanks to: Chris Rodi, Reinaldo Correa, Brian Frederiksen, Don Scandrett)

Brent Brigham [the most supportive dad in the world]