Tietz-Baccon Dials Down The Volume in a Textural Chicago Office

Fabrikator, Midwest
Friday, March 15, 2013
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The "fin" feature wall measures 10 feet by 160 feet. (Christopher Barrett)

Raw material was juxtaposed against lacquered MDF at the bottom that alternates for textural variation as well as durability. (Christopher Barrett)

Tietz-Baccon fabricated a 7-foot by 23-foot freestanding wall, and a 10-foot by 160-foot decorative wall for Enova’s Chicago offices.

As more and more companies embrace open workspaces that support collaborative and impromptu group work, acoustics are of utmost importance to employee productivity. To craft sound-absorbing feature walls for the Chicago offices of financial firm Enova, Brininstool + Lynch turned to fabrication studio Tietz-Baccon. Their six-person facility in Long Island City, New York, makes bespoke solutions for a variety of design-minded clients who appreciate—and ultimately benefit from—the founders’ architectural background: Erik Tietz and Andrew Baccon met as students at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.

“On the fabrication end, we take nonstandard projects and make them achievable by relying heavily on our digital capabilities,” Baccon said. “Brininstool + Lynch had a concept that was worked out very well and was looking for someone who could execute on a tight budget in a short period of time.” According to Baccon, the architects came to the fabricators with a family of shapes and a way of aggregating them, which was then applied to different materials, helping Tietz-Baccon deliver finished projects very close to the firm’s original requests. “There was good collaborative discussion, and a back-and-forth to tweak and bring the concept to realization. They didn’t have to compromise their idea that much.”

Three-quarter-inch strips of Micore® were CNC-milled to form a 7-foot by 23-foot wall between a cafe area and workstations.

A sound absorbing Micore® wall separates a cafe area from workstations. (Christopher Barrett)

  • Fabricator Tietz-Baccon
  • Architect Brininstool + Lynch
  • Location Chicago
  • Date of Completion July 2012
  • Material 3/4-inch MDF, 3/4-inch Micore, aluminum laminate, aluminum
  • Process Rhino, CNC milling, water jet cutting, assembling with screws

A free-standing “stack” wall serves as a spatial divider that doubles for heavy-duty sound mitigation. Realized in Micore® mineral fiberboard, 3/4-inch strips of the porous and lightweight material were CNC-milled to form a 7-foot by 23-foot wall between a cafe area and workstations. Selected for its acoustical absorption, exceptionally light weight, and varying density availability, Micore® had an appealing tactile quality that agreed with the architects’ design. “All the selected shapes are related and contribute to material efficiency,” Baccon says. “We extrapolated [from that premise] to tweak the scale and amplitude of the surface but tried to remain true to their initial approach.”

The “fin” wall, the larger of Tietz-Baccon’s contributions at 10 feet by 160 feet, also serves to soften noise from bouncing off the preexisting wall. Three-quarter-inch strips of MDF in dozens of individual sizes are installed as a series of sets to produce a unique rhythm. Raw material was juxtaposed against lacquered MDF at the bottom that alternates for textural variation as well as durability. Each “rib” can be removed to replace bulbs in the concealed lighting scheme or for necessary repairs, and the lacquer safeguards the MDF from task chair run-ins or related daily impacts.

MDF strips in dozens of individual sizes are installed as a series of sets to produce a unique rhythm. (Christopher Barrett)

MDF strips in dozens of individual sizes are installed as a series of sets to produce a unique rhythm. (Christopher Barrett)

“The most interesting part of this was trying to use the material in a slightly different way without affecting the durability or lifespan of the project,” said Baccon, referring to the unconventionally exposed edges. “There is a strong presence of other materials, for example bespoke concrete next to highly refined acrylic panels with backlighting, so it’s the juxtaposition of the really refined next to the raw that helps us understand the materiality.”

The architects introduced their concept for the fin wall with 2D drawings. Tietz-Baccon modeled the third dimension in Rhino and realized the final product with a CNC router. Each rib fits within a registered slot on an aluminum laminate track, and is locked into place with a shelf plate at the bottom. The entire system is secured with a series of water jet–cut aluminum mounting fins screwed into the preexisting wall.

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