Pratt Floats Student Work on a Mylar Cloud

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A cloud-like Mylar net supports architectural models in Pratt's annual graduate school exhibition. (Courtesy Michael Szivos)

A cloud-like Mylar net floats architectural models in Pratt’s annual graduate school exhibition. (Courtesy Michael Szivos)

Installation inverts conventional relationship between architectural models and images.

Each year, a group of Pratt Institute graduate students is challenged with pushing the boundaries of exhibition design as they curate the student work from the previous year. “The basic brief is for it not to be a show where it’s work on white walls, but that there’s an installation component,” said Softlab‘s Michael Szivos, who co-taught the 2014 exhibition course with Nitzan Bartov. The spring show coincides with the publication of Process, a catalog of student projects. “The book shows it in that more normative condition, year by year,” said Szivos. “The installation works in tandem with that. The hope is that the students come up with something different.” This year Szivos’ students passed the test with flying colors, constructing a floating display out of Mylar, medium-density fiberboard, cardboard, and Tyvek that upends the conventional relationship between architectural models and two-dimensional images.

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Radlab Makes Music with Moiré

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Radlab's Clefs Moiré brings life to the lobby of a Boston-area apartment building. (Courtesy Radlab)

Radlab’s Clefs Moiré brings life to the lobby of a Boston-area apartment building. (Courtesy Radlab)

Undulating birch walls create pockets of privacy in an apartment building lobby.

When Boston design and fabrication firm Radlab began work on Clefs Moiré, the permanent installation in the lobby of One North of Boston in Chelsea, Massachusetts, they had relatively little to go on. They knew that the apartment building’s developer wanted a pair of walls of a certain size to activate the lobby space, but that was about it. “Normally we get more information, so we can come up with a story—a concept based on the building and its requirement,” said Radlab’s Matt Trimble. “For this we pulled back and said, we have an opportunity to be a little more abstract about how we approach this conceptually.” Inspired by moiré patterning and a harpsichord composition by J.S. Bach, the team designed and built two slatted birch walls whose undulating surfaces embody a dialog between transparency and opacity.
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Pratt Students Raise an AAC Wall

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School of Architecture students designed and fabricated a portion of an AAC facade for display in the lobby of Higgins Hall. (Courtesy Lawrence Blough)

School of Architecture students designed and fabricated a portion of an AAC facade for display in the lobby of Higgins Hall. (Courtesy Lawrence Blough)

Installation investigates the future of facade design and fabrication.

Unlike some student projects, AAC Textile-Block v2.0 was shaped by both practical and speculative concerns. In back-to-back courses at Pratt, undergraduates designed and fabricated a prototype section of a screen wall system made from autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC). Co-taught by Lawrence Blough and Ezra Ardolino, the design studio and prototyping seminar encouraged students to look beyond their computer screens to real-world constraints including block size and light and air circulation. “The idea was that we wanted to make something that has an application later on,” said Blough. “It was more than a run-of-the-mill digital fabrication project,” added Ardolino. “It was really a comprehensive fabrication project.” Read More

PART Studio Plays Peek-a-boo with Plywood

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PART Studio designed the plywood Peek-a-boo Curtain to behave like fabric. (Courtesy PART Studio)

PART Studio designed the plywood Peek-a-boo Curtain to behave like fabric. (Courtesy PART Studio)

Louisville installation elicits fabric-like behavior from wood.

PART Studio designed and built their plywood Peek-a-boo Curtain in just four days, after a last-minute invitation from Louisville arts and business networking organization I.D.E.A.S. 40203. “We went to a meeting, talked about it, then drove to the plywood store,” recalled principal Nathan Smith. Luckily, the architects were not starting from scratch. Rather, Smith and partner Mark Foxworth seized the opportunity to build a full-scale mock-up of an idea they had been tossing around for some time: a curtain that, though built of wood, would behave like fabric. Staged at FirstBuild, a design and fabrication studio run through a partnership between GE Appliances and Local Motors, the exhibition also gave the designers a chance to explore the space between art and commerce. “With our piece we were looking not only to span the specific interests of the groups involved, but also to consider the relationships between product design, art, and architectural design,” said Smith. Read More

Red Deer Lights Up Burning Man

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As visitors climb on and around Luz 2.0, integrated sensors trigger an interactive lighting display. (Dustin Wong Photography)

As visitors climb on and around Luz 2.0, integrated sensors trigger an interactive lighting display. (Dustin Wong Photography)

Prismatic pyramid evokes desert mirage by day, Aurora Borealis by night.

Given that their pyramidal acrylic installation at this summer’s Burning Man was inspired in part by Pink Floyd‘s Dark Side of the Moon album cover, it seems safe to say that the architects at Red Deer “get” the festival’s vibe. “We try to get very intimate with our sites, so it was interesting to approach one that we hadn’t been able to visit,” said founding director Ciarán O’Brien. “Some of the primal forces we could see at play there were the heat of the desert and the way people interact with structures. Specifically, for us it was about light in all its forms.” The UK firm worked closely with the structural engineers at Structure Mode to design a transparent six-meter-tall structure comprising interlocking equilateral triangles, while New York Institute of Technology professor Charles Matz contributed an integrated light display based on the Aurora Borealis. “All kinds of imagery came to mind that held to the desert landscape,” said O’Brien. “By day, the concept evoked a mirage; by night, a kaleidoscope. One is ephemeral, a non-place; the other is specific, a beacon.” Read More

Martha Schwartz’ Hillside Mountain Range

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Fengming Mountain Park features a series of metal pavilions imagined as abstracted mountains. (Terrence Zhang)

Fengming Mountain Park features a series of metal pavilions imagined as abstracted mountains. (Terrence Zhang)

Illuminated steel pavilions mimic Chinese peaks.

The hillside site of Fengming Mountain Park, in Chongqing, China, presented Martha Schwartz Partners with both a practical challenge and a source of inspiration. Asked by Chinese developer Vanke to design a park adjacent to the sales office for a new housing development, the landscape architecture and urban planning firm quickly gravitated toward the metaphor of a mountain journey. “That’s why in the plans you see a zig zag pattern” to the path leading down to the sales center from the car park, said associate Ignacio López Busón. Steel pavilions scattered along the walkway pick up on the theme, taking the form of abstracted mountain peaks. “That’s something the client really liked,” said López Busón. “Once the idea was clear, it was all about developing the shape of them, and trying to make them look special.”
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Herringbone Whisky Bar by Taylor and Miller

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Taylor and Miller Architecture and Design crafted a playful patterned interior for former contractor and whisky bar proprietor Steve Owen. (Courtesy Taylor and Miller)

Taylor and Miller Architecture and Design crafted a playful patterned interior for former contractor and whisky bar proprietor Steve Owen. (Courtesy Taylor and Miller)

Owner-built interior explores the transition from two dimensions to three.

For his latest venture, The Montrose in Park Slope, Brooklyn, whisky bar proprietor and former contractor Steve Owen (with partners Michael Ferrie and Alex Wade) wanted a rough, industrial look evocative of an Old World distillery. “He was coming at it sort of from an antique perspective, as a pastiche,” said B. Alex Miller, partner at Taylor and Miller Architecture and Design. “We were thinking of it in a different way.” Taylor and Miller, who had worked with Owen on several projects when he was a practicing contractor, noticed the prevalence of wood herringbone patterning on the walls and floors of the spaces Owen was inspired by. “We’d done some other herringbone studies,” said Miller. “We said, ‘This is something that’s often done in a high-end scenario. Let’s pare it down to the barest of essentials, just do it out of 2-by-4 pine, do it in grain on the walls.’” Read More

Urbana’s Shape-Shifting Parking Garage Facade

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Urbana Studio designed an interactive aluminum facade for an existing parking structure at Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis. (Serge Hoeltschi)

Urbana Studio designed an interactive aluminum facade for an existing parking structure at Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis. (Serge Hoeltschi)

Folded aluminum panels deliver the illusion of movement to passersby.

During their recent expansion, Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis approached Urbana Studio with an unusual request. The hospital wanted the Los Angeles-based art and architecture firm to design an interactive facade for a recently completed parking structure. “With Indianapolis’ really extreme weather patterns, we gave a lot of thought to: how can we make something that’s interactive but won’t be broken in a year?” said Urbana principal Rob Ley. “Unfortunately, the history of kinetic facades teaches us that that they can become a maintenance nightmare.” Urbana’s solution was to turn the relationship between movement and the object on its head. Though the aluminum facade, titled May September, is itself static, it appears to morph and change color as the viewer walks or drives by.
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Page Floats a Cedar Sunshade in Albuquerque

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Page designed a simple cedar and steel-wire screen to shade the courtyard of the new GSA building in New Mexico. (Patrick Coulie)

Page designed a simple cedar and steel-wire screen to shade the courtyard of the new GSA building in New Mexico. (Patrick Coulie)

Minimalist catenary canopy lends warmth and lightness to office courtyard.

When Page design principal Larry Speck suggested a catenary sunshade for the courtyard of the new GSA building in Albuquerque, his colleagues set about identifying precedents. “There were some really great devices that we looked at, but a lot were done in the 1960s out of heavy, monumental materials,” said principal Talmadge Smith. “We wondered if there was a way to do it in a lighter, more delicate way that would also introduce some warmth to the space.” The architects elected to build the structure out of western red cedar, which performs particularly well in arid climates. Comprising 4-, 8-, and 12-foot boards suspended on steel cables, the sunshade appears as a wave of blonde wood floating in mid-air, casting slatted shadows on the glass walls of the courtyard.
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Interactive Thermoplastic Pavilion by B+U

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(Joshua White)

Baumgartner+Uriu designed and built Apertures with students from SCI-Arc. (Joshua White)

A thin shell pavilion with an audio feedback program invites engagement.

Apertures, the amorphous pavilion designed and fabricated by Baumgartner+Uriu (B+U) with students from SCI-Arc, challenges two of architecture’s defining dualities: the distinction between wall and window, and the division between exterior and interior. “Conceptually, we were looking at objects that are multi-directional and have apertures as their main theme,” said partner Herwig Baumgartner. “That was one aspect of it; the other was the barriers between inside and outside and how we can dissolve these. We’re interested in architecture that’s responsive through either movement or sound.” As visitors pass through or otherwise engage with the 16-foot-tall, 1/8-inch-thick structure’s many rounded openings, attached heat sensors trigger sounds based on human bio-rhythms, creating a feedback loop that encourages active exploration of the space. Read More

IIT Students Explore the Potential of Carbon Fiber

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Undergraduates at IIT designed, funded, and fabricated FIBERwave PAVILION during the spring semester. (Courtesy Alphonso Peluso)

Undergraduates at IIT designed, funded, and fabricated FIBERwave PAVILION during the spring semester. (Courtesy Alphonso Peluso)

Composite materials are on display in the undergraduate-built FIBERwave PAVILION.

Carbon fiber’s unique properties would seem to make it an ideal building product. Untreated, carbon fiber cloth is flexible and easy to cut. After an epoxy cure, it is as hard as steel. But while the automobile and aerospace industries have made widespread use of the material, it has gone virtually untouched by the architectural profession. Alphonso Peluso and his undergraduate students at the IIT College of Architecture set out to change that with their FIBERwave PAVILION, a parametric, sea life-inspired installation built entirely of carbon fiber. “We want to make the studio an expert resource for people trying to get into carbon fiber in terms of architecture,” said Peluso, whose students designed, funded, and built the pavilion this spring. “There’s a studio in Germany that’s in their second year of working with carbon fiber, but I don’t think anyone in the United States is working with it.” Read More

Constructivist Playground by Warren Techentin Architecture

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Warren Techentin Architecture's La Cage Aux Folles is on display at Materials & Applications in Los Angeles through August. (Nick Cope)

Warren Techentin Architecture’s La Cage Aux Folles is on display at Materials & Applications in Los Angeles through August. (Nick Cope)

An interactive installation reconsiders the definitions of enclosure and openness.

Warren Techentin Architecture’s digitally-designed La Cage Aux Folles, on display at Materials & Applications in Los Angeles through August, was inspired by a decidedly analog precedent: the yurt. “Yurts are circular,” explained Techentin, who studied the building type as part of his thesis work at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. “That began the idea of using small-diameter rods and taking software and configuring sweeps with some special scripts that we found online.” But while the yurt’s primary function is shelter, Techentin’s open-air installation, built of 6,409 linear feet of steel pipe, is a literal and intellectual playground, its form an investigation of the dualities of inside and out, enclosure and openness. Read More

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