Dig Deep into Digital Design at Facades+ Dallas

Facades+ tech workshops offer hands-on exposure to cutting-edge design software.

Facades+ tech workshops offer hands-on exposure to cutting-edge design software.

Today’s AEC professionals are more to reach for a computer mouse then they are a drafting pencil. Understanding and being able fully utilize cutting-edge digital design tools is essential to contemporary architectural practice, particularly the design of high-performance building skins. Attendees at next month’s Facades+ Dallas conference can choose among four hands-on tech workshops in a unique program designed to deliver in-depth exposure to platforms including Autodesk Revit, Autodesk Vasari, and Grasshopper.

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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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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

Hands-On Exposure to Cutting-Edge Technology at facades+Chicago

Participants in facades+ tech workshops learn and practice cutting-edge digital design technologies in an intimate setting.

Participants in facades+ tech workshops learn and practice cutting-edge digital design technologies in an intimate setting.

Contemporary architectural practice, and in particular the design of high-performance facades, is as much about mastering technology as it is about grappling with aesthetics and function. Attendees at next month’s facades+ Chicago conference will have an opportunity to explore cutting-edge digital design tools during a series of hands-on technology workshops. The tech workshops, which take place on the second day of the conference, follow a day-long symposium featuring keynotes and roundtable discussions by AEC industry leaders. “If on day 1 you’re being exposed to advancements in building methods, on day 2 you can learn the technology and techniques that are behind those applications,” said Mode Lab’s Ronnie Parsons. “It’s taking the next step from someone who’s in the audience to being a participant. Not just a participant who’s watching and engaged, but one who is actively involved in shaping what happens tomorrow.” Read More

James Timberlake to US AEC Industry: Bring Facade Manufacturing Home

KieranTimberlake's Edgar N. Putnam Event Pavilion, James A. Michener Art Museum. (Michael Moran/OTTO)

KieranTimberlake’s Edgar N. Putnam Event Pavilion, James A. Michener Art Museum. (Michael Moran/OTTO)

KieranTimberlake has long pushed the boundaries of conventional facade design. The Philadelphia-based firm started using pressure-equalized rain screen systems in the 1980s, well before other architects brought the technology on board. Their Melvin J. and Claire Levine Hall, at the University of Pennsylvania (2003), was the first actively ventilated curtain wall in North America. The designers at KieranTimberlake have introduced new materials and assemblies, such as the SmartWrap building skin deployed at Cellophane House, part of MoMA’s Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling exhibit. One of the firm’s latest projects, the Embassy of the United States, London, incorporates an outer envelope of three-dimensional ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) panels with integrated photovoltaic cells.

Continue reading after the jump.

Digital Technologies and the Future of Facade Design

Among the AEC industry’s most powerful tools are digital technologies, from parametric modeler software to environmental analysis programs. Neil Thelen (Diller Scofidio + Renfro), Gordon Gill (Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture), Edward Peck (Thornton Tomasetti), and Doris Sung (dO/Su Studio) took time out from April’s facades+ NYC conference to talk to our partners at Enclos about how technology is shaping the future of envelope design.

At next month’s facades+ Chicago conference, a series of tech workshops will offer hands-on instruction in topics including facade panelization and optimization and collaborative design and analysis. For more information or to register, visit the conference website.

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

UT Student Installation Takes SXSW

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Undergraduates at UT designed Caret 6 as a backdrop for TEX-FAB's annual competition exhibition. (Casey Dunn)

Undergraduates at UT designed Caret 6 as a backdrop for TEX-FAB’s annual competition exhibition. (Casey Dunn)

A room-filling parametric design makes its way from the classroom to Austin’s famous music festival.

When Kory Bieg and his students at The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture began working on Caret 6, they had no idea that it would wind up at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) music and arts festival. But the rippling, room-filling installation soon took on a life of its own. Within months, Bieg’s undergraduates—who had little previous exposure to digital design—had designed and fabricated Caret 6, and assembled and disassembled it twice, first at the TEX-FAB SKIN: Digital Assemblies Symposium in February, and then at Austin’s most famous annual gathering in March. Read More

An Impossible Stair by NEXT Architects

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Sander Meisner_03

The steel staircase is based on a Möbius strip. (Sander Meisner)

A folly in a Rotterdam suburb draws on residents’ complex relationship with the city.

The residents of Carnisselande, a garden suburb in Barendrecht, the Netherlands, have a curious relationship with Rotterdam. Many of them work in the city, or are otherwise mentally and emotionally connected to it, yet they go home at night to a place that is physically and visually separate. When NEXT architects was tapped to build a folly on a hill in the new town, they seized on this apparent contradiction. “This suburb is completely hidden behind sound barriers, highways, totally disconnected from Rotterdam,” said NEXT director Marijn Schenk. “We discovered when you’re on top of the hill and jump, you can see Rotterdam. We said, ‘Can we make the jump into an art piece?’” Read More

Boston Valley Brings a 100-Year-Old Dome into the Digital Age

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BOSTON VALLEY FABRICATED 18,841 INDIVIDUAL TERRA COTTA COMPONENTS FOR THE RESTORATION PROJECT (BOSTON VALLEY TERRA COTTA)

BOSTON VALLEY FABRICATED 18,841 INDIVIDUAL TERRA COTTA COMPONENTS FOR THE RESTORATION PROJECT (BOSTON VALLEY TERRA COTTA)

Boston Valley Terra Cotta restored the Alberta Legislature Building’s century-old dome using a combination of digital and traditional techniques.

Restoring a century-old terra cotta dome without blueprints would be a painstaking process in any conditions. Add long snowy winters and an aggressive freeze/thaw cycle, and things start to get really interesting. For their reconstruction of the Alberta Legislature Building dome, the craftsmen at Boston Valley Terra Cotta had a lot to think about, from developing a formula for a clay that would stand up to Edmonton’s swings in temperatures, to organizing just-in-time delivery of 18,841 components. Their answer? Technology. Thanks to an ongoing partnership with Omar Khan at the University at Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning, the Orchard Park, New York, firm’s employees are as comfortable with computers as they are with hand tools.

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After Record-Breaking Concrete Pour in Los Angeles, Wilshire Grand Reaches for the Sky

THE $1.1 BILLION WILSHIRE GRAND IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION IN DOWNTOWN LA (AC MARTIN)

THE $1.1 BILLION WILSHIRE GRAND IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION IN DOWNTOWN LA (AC MARTIN)

The Wilshire Grand, a 73-story tower under construction in downtown Los Angeles, hasn’t yet risen out of the ground, but it’s already in the Guinness Book of World Records. That’s thanks to a February 15–16 event promoters called the Grand Pour, in which construction crews poured 21,200 cubic yards (82 million pounds) of concrete in 18 hours—the largest continuous concrete pour in history.

Why all the fuss?

This Week is SCI-Arc’s Viennese Week in Los Angeles

West
Monday, March 3, 2014
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WOLF D. PRIX WITH RAIMUND ABRAHAM (ALEKSANDRA PAWLOFF/COURTESY SCI-ARC)

WOLF D. PRIX WITH RAIMUND ABRAHAM (ALEKSANDRA PAWLOFF/COURTESY SCI-ARC)

Austria comes to Los Angeles with a lecture series dubbed “Viennese Week in LA.” The talks will take place at SCI-Arc as part of the Wolf D. Prix/COOP HIMMELB(L)AU design studio. Prix himself is the headliner, with a lecture on Raimund Abraham happening on March 5 at 7:00p.m. In “Visions in Exile or: Before we were so rudely interrupted,” Prix will talk about his mentor and friend’s influence on the early works of COOP HIMMELB(L)AU. He will also probe the digitization of architecture practice, asking how architects like Abraham would have designed using the tools available today.

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