Synthesis 3D prints a rocking chair

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Synthesis Design + Architecture's Durotaxis Chair showcases the unique capabilities of the Stratasys Objet500 Connex3 printer. (IMSTEPF Films)

Synthesis Design + Architecture’s Durotaxis Chair showcases the unique capabilities of the Stratasys Objet500 Connex3 printer. (IMSTEPF Films)

Durotaxis rocker features gradient mesh informed by function, ergonomics, and aesthetics.

For Synthesis Design + Architecture founding principal Alvin Huang, there is a lot to love about 3D printing. But he does not always like how the technology is applied. “I see it all the time—a lot of students just 3D print everything,” said Huang, who also teaches at the USC School of Architecture. “You see things that could have been done better, faster, or cleaner by hand. I find it a very troublesome predicament we’re in, we’re letting the tool dictate.” When Stratasys contacted Synthesis about designing a piece for their Objet500 Connex3 printer, the architects decided to turn the relationship between human and machine on its head. Instead of asking how they could implement a preconceived design using the Objet printer, they challenged themselves to create something that could only be manufactured using this particular tool. Durotaxis Chair, a prototype of which debuted at the ACADIA 2014 conference, showcases Objet’s multi-material 3D printing capabilities with a gradient mesh that visually communicates the rocker’s function and ergonomics.

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Digital Incan Masonry by Matter Design

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Matter Design's Round Room was inspired by the Incan wedge method of masonry construction. (Courtesy Matter Design)

Matter Design’s Round Room was inspired by the Incan wedge method of masonry construction. (Courtesy Matter Design)

Architects update pre-Columbian building method with modern tools and materials.

Matter Design‘s latest installation, Round Room (on display at MIT‘s Keller Gallery last fall) was born of a “marriage” between two of the firm’s ongoing interests, explained co-founder Brandon Clifford. First, Clifford and partner Wes McGee had long hoped to work with Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (AAC). Clifford, moreover, had been impressed during a trip to Cuzco by the Incan wedge method of masonry construction, in which precisely-carved stones are aligned on their front face, then backfilled with mortar. “This seemed like a tremendously rational way of building,” he said. “Ever since then we had been wanting to do a project that translates that process into digital design.” With Round Room, designed and fabricated in cooperation with Quarra Stone, Matter Design did just that. Though inspired by pre-Columbian building practices, the installation firmly situates the wedge method in the digital age.
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Goetz Brings Bucky Back

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Goetz Composites designed and fabricated a reproduction of R. Buckminster Fuller's Fly's Eye Dome in cooperation with the Buckminster Fuller Institute. (Lala Periera)

Goetz Composites designed and fabricated a reproduction of R. Buckminster Fuller’s Fly’s Eye Dome in cooperation with the Buckminster Fuller Institute. (Lala Periera)

Fly’s Eye Dome reproduction applies contemporary tools and materials to 1970s concept.

Thirty years after R. Buckminster Fuller‘s death, the visionary inventor and architect’s Fly’s Eye Dome has been reborn in Miami. Unveiled during Art Basel Miami Beach 2014, the replica dome, designed and fabricated by Goetz Composites in cooperation with the Buckminster Fuller Institute (BFI), pays tribute to Fuller both aesthetically and technologically. Constructed using contemporary materials and digital design tools, the new 24-foot Fly’s Eye Dome (which serves as the pedestrian entrance to a parking garage in the Miami Design District) is yet further evidence that the creator of the geodesic dome was ahead of his time.

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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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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

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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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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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

LMN Architects Materialize a Metaphor in Cleveland

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Wrapped in textured precast concrete, LMN Architects' Global Center for Health Innovation is a high-tech addition to Cleveland's civic core. (Ed LaCasse, LaCasse Photography)

Wrapped in textured precast concrete, LMN Architects’ Global Center for Health Innovation is a high-tech addition to Cleveland’s civic core. (Ed LaCasse, LaCasse Photography)

A digitally-designed medical products showroom plays well with its City Beautiful neighbors.

The Global Center for Health Innovation, designed by LMN Architects along with the attached Cleveland Convention Center, is more than a showroom for medical products and services. Located adjacent to the Burnham Malls, the open space at the heart of Daniel Burnham’s Group Plan of 1903, the building is part of Cleveland’s civic core. “One of the things about the Global Center is that it has a unique expression and in particular the facade treatment,” said design partner Mark Reddington. “But it’s also a really integrated piece of a bigger idea and a bigger composition.” A dynamic combination of textured concrete panels and irregular slashes of glazing, the Global Center’s facade, which won honorable mention in AN’s 2014 Best of Design Awards, deftly negotiates the gap between the building’s historic context and its function as a high-tech marketplace. 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

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?

Public’s Tree-Like Transit Shelters for UBC

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Friday, February 21, 2014
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THE TRANSIT SHELTER'S DESIGN WAS INSPIRED BY THE TREES LINING UNIVERSITY BOULEVARD (PUBLIC: ARCHITECTURE + COMMUNICATION)

THE TRANSIT SHELTER’S DESIGN WAS INSPIRED BY THE TREES LINING UNIVERSITY BOULEVARD (PUBLIC: ARCHITECTURE + COMMUNICATION)

An abstracted version of a street tree, a canopy of tessellated irregular polygons balances atop slim steel posts.

When Public: Architecture + Communication visited the site of the transit shelters the University of British Columbia had asked them to design, they found that something was missing. The main point of entry to the campus, University Boulevard is lined with trees—except where the bus shelters would go. “There was this language of gaps that we noticed,” said Public’s Christopher Sklar. The shelters themselves, they decided, should fill in the tree line. The designers were left with a question, articulated by Sklar: “How does it be a quiet piece but also something interesting and unusual that relates to its surroundings?”

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