Week 2 - Defining "The Box" / by Caroline Ingalls

Evergreen  cargo ship at the  Port of Savannah  bound for China. 

Evergreen cargo ship at the Port of Savannah bound for China. 

This past week I had a great opportunity to visit the Georgia Ports Authority at the Port of Savannah.  To be able to design a destination that will feature the amazing life of a shipping container and it's relationship with our communities, I must first and foremost understand how the industry's system works.  I feel as if the incredible journey of a container is often overlooked in many of today's projects that utilize them for structures.  I am sure it is taken in to account in many cases, but to my presumption, a lot of users, designers, developers and architects just see it as an old steel box that can be turned in to something "sexy" and "green".  As I stated in my last post, creating sexy boxes is not my intention by any means.  

I was absolutely fascinated on the visit to the port, getting an up-close-and-personal tour of the entire operation at the third busiest and fourth largest port in the United States.  The Evergreen ship above is too large for the Panama canal, so to get to its destination of China from Savannah, it has to cross the Atlantic, head in to the Mediterranean and through the Suez canal in Egypt, pass Somalia and down into the Indian ocean to make it to China.  Witnessing the operation with my own eyes gave me a valuable understanding of what "Made in China" or "Made in Bangladesh" means and so forth.  

In discussing with the employees at Georgia Ports Authority that kindly took the time to show my professor and I around and give us a presentation, it was clear that they were incredibly passionate about global shipping and the amazing box that changed the world.  I was also thoroughly impressed with the sustainability efforts that the company is going through to sustainably increase the efficiency of their ports while never interfering with the natural ecosystems that are thankfully still around here in the Lowcountry.  

I am now starting a book called "The Box" by Marc Levinson on 'how the shipping container made the world smaller and the world economy bigger'.  I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning about the influential box that allows us to live the lives we do today.  

I will be selecting the site for the space within the next few days; one that will really connect the three concepts of global shipping + commerce + community.  I think a spot along the edge of the Savannah River may just be perfect as it is the center of commerce and community in the city, and to be spending time amongst repurposed shipping containers while the big ships slowly move by, well I am not sure that picture and experience could be topped!  I am also thinking about a name; definitely one that embraces "the box", so do not hesitate to throw any ideas out to me!