Energy strategist Sangeetha Divakar on the role of digital techniques in facade design

OMA/LMN's Seattle Central Library. (Andrew Smith / Flickr)

OMA/LMN’s Seattle Central Library. (Andrew Smith / Flickr)

Digital techniques including parametrization play an increasingly important role in the work of many architects, engineers, and builders, especially those involved in the design and fabrication of high performance facades.

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SOM’s Neil Katz on parametric modeling in facade design

Parametric model of structural system for a very early version of Tower One of the World Trade Center project, New York. (Courtesy Neil Katz)

Parametric model of structural system for a very early version of Tower One of the World Trade Center project, New York. (Courtesy Neil Katz)

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) associate Neil Katz describes his approach to crafting facades as involving a “computational design” methodology.

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The Metamorphosis: Marc Fornes breaks ground on a parametric amphitheater in Maryland

(Courtesy Marc Fornes/Theverymany)

(Courtesy Marc Fornes/Theverymany)

On September 12, New York–based practice Marc Fornes/Theverymany broke ground on its largest project to date, the Chrysalis Amphitheater project. The parametric structure’s fluid form is intended to define a public space and live performance venue for outdoor gigs and shows.

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Australian architects get planning approval for skyscraper based on Beyoncé’s curves

(Courtesy Elenberg Fraser)

(Courtesy Elenberg Fraser)

Piggybacking off the axiom that sex sells and anything Beyoncé-related has the potential to break the Internet, Australian architecture firm Elenberg Fraser has nabbed planning approval for a “Beyoncé tower” inspired by the superstar’s hourglass form.

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TEX-FAB explores new frontiers in high performance facade design

Plasticity Pavilion. (Courtesy Andrew Vrana)

Plasticity Pavilion. (Courtesy Andrew Vrana)

The motto of Houston architecture, civic art, and product design firm METALAB is “finding new and better ways to build things.” In addition to forming the core of his professional practice, this mission aptly describes principal Andrew Vrana’s work with the Texas digital design and production network TEX-FAB.

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Visions of Plasticity: TEX-FAB 2015 probes into new digital fabrication technologies

Plastic Stereotomy by Justin Diles

Plastic Stereotomy by Justin Diles.

This year’s TEX-FAB symposium in Houston continued the digital fabrication alliance’s exploration of new frontiers and technologies in the field by investigating the latest developments in 3D printing and composites.

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Höweler+Yoon combine cutting-edge tech and age-old craft to complete the Sean Collier Memorial at MIT

Sean Collier Memorial. Photo by Scott Newland. Courtesy Howeler + Yoon.

Sean Collier Memorial. (Scott Newland / Courtesy Howeler + Yoon)

On April 18th, 2013, the Boston Marathon bombers went on a crime spree that included the killing of Officer Sean Collier who was shot in the line of duty on the MIT campus. In honor of the slain MIT patrol officer, the university commissioned Boston-based Höweler+Yoon Architecture to design the Sean Collier Memorial—a somber, grey stone structure that marks the site of the tragedy. The heaviness of the unreinforced, fully compressive masonry structure is meant to convey the concept of “Collier Strong,” or strength through unity.

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Plan for a parametric townhouse of undulating brick “flames” is rekindled in Tribeca

Model of 187 Franklin. (Courtesy SYSTEMarchitects)

Model of 187 Franklin. (Courtesy SYSTEMarchitects)

Getting the blessing of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission can be a tricky thing. Typically, your best bet is to go contextual: stick with historic materials and keep the modern ornamentation to a minimum. That is clearly not the approach that SYSTEMarchitects‘ Jeremy Edmiston took for a parametrically designed Tribeca townhouse in search of facelift.

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Zaha Hadid to design mathematics wing at London’s Science Museum

The Mathematics gallery. (Courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects)

The Mathematics gallery. (Courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects)

In an effort to make math appear exciting, London‘s Science Museum has tapped Zaha Hadid to design its new mathematics gallery. According to the museum, the new multi-million dollar, Hadid-ian space will “tell stories that place mathematics at the heart of our lives, exploring how mathematicians, their tools and ideas have helped to shape the world from the turn of the 17th century to the present.” If that doesn’t sound absolutely riveting to you, well maybe some math-themed architecture can help.

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SOFTlab creates a flowery vortex for a New York City couture shoe shop

Melissa We Are Flowers (Courtesy SOFTlab)

Melissa We Are Flowers (Alan Tansey Photographer / Courtesy SOFTlab)

Forget about the Sharknado, New York–based designers at SOFTlab have created a vortex of flowers that has taken over one Manhattan shoe store, bringing SOFTlab’s signature parametric forms to the modern shoe brand, Melissa. The Soho store already grabbed design headlines when it opened its flagship location decked out in a custom-fabricated Corian interior by architecture firm Eight and Associated Fabrication. This latest design intervention is part of Melissa’s “We Are Flowers” campaign that used organic shapes and colors to inform its shoe line.

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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

The Grand Macau Hotel: Zaha Hadid Behind Parametric Addition to Chinese Casino Resort

(Courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects)

(Courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects)

Zaha Hadid has designed another seemingly-structurally-impossible parametric building form that is set to touch down in Macau in 2017. The building, which could be equally at home in Miami or Dubai, is a large block that has been punctured by three curvaceous openings. The entire mass is encased in an exposed exoskeleton that twists and turns along the structure’s contours.

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