Thomas Balsley Reaches Destination with Landscape Forms

Fabrikator
Friday, December 13, 2013
.
Brought to you with support from:
Fabrikator
Brought to you with support from:
Fabrikator

The Transit Bench was fabricated in Landscape Forms custom project division, Studio 431. (Michael Koontz/Thomas Balsley Associates)

The Transit Bench was fabricated in Landscape Forms custom project division, Studio 431. (Michael Koontz/Thomas Balsley Associates)

Aerodynamics of transit inform the design for new public seating in busy pedestrian areas like train platforms.

Landscape architect Thomas Balsley has been shaping public spaces in urban settings for more than 35 years, from the Bronx to Dallas to Portland. Even at large scales his work underscores attention to detail, all the way down to the furniture that adorns his sites. As a resident of New York since the 1970s, Balsley is all too aware of the way public benches and seating function in densely populated cities. For Transit Bench—fabricated by Landscape Forms custom project team at Studio 431—he designed a seating option for busy pedestrian areas, like train platforms and street-side parklets, where movement engulfs stationary seating.

“I started thinking of the aerodynamic aspects of transit and airline design, where the skin of the plane is an important structural component,” Balsley told AN. “I had the idea that this folded piece of skin could be the structure.” The bench, which rests on two sled base legs, is one solid form, made from a single sheet of stainless steel with laser cut perforations that suggest motion.

Balsley modeled his design for the new bench in Rhino. (courtesy Landscape Forms)

Balsley modeled his design for the new bench in Rhino. (courtesy Thomas Balsley Associates)

  • Fabricator Studio 431
  • Designers Thomas Balsley Associates
  • Location Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • Date of Completion December 2012
  • Material stainless steel, bolts
  • Process Rhino, SketchUp, SolidWorks, press break forming, welding, laser cutting, bolting

Based off his design for the Redline Bench (one of many products Balsley has designed for Landscape Forms), Transit Bench hones in on efficiency of form and material, something he hopes will become hallmarks of 21st century design. Wrestling to rectify an ongoing inconsistency in bench design—“Why isn’t the back as attractive as the front?” pondered Balsley—Transit Bench’s back extends 1/3 of the way down for a more balanced aesthetic. A skirt folds down to conceal the legs at the front of the bench. On the backless version of the design, the skirt wraps down over the backside as well.

Rob Smalldon of Studio 431 took the Rhino design files supplied by Balsley and worked on them in SketchUp and SolidWorks. A sheet of stainless steel was laser cut in flat form, and sent to a press break to achieve its three defining bends. For simplicity and consistency, the same dye was used for all three bends. The legs are also made from one band of steel, as are the arms, which are bent to their preferred shape. “I believe some of the best designs are pretty simple,” said Smalldon, “but there’s usually twice as much effort to make it work.”

Transit Bench’s back extends 1/3 of the way down for a more balanced aesthetic. (Michael Koontz/Thomas Balsley Associates)

Transit Bench’s back extends 1/3 of the way down for a more balanced aesthetic. (Michael Koontz/Thomas Balsley Associates)

The legs are bolted to the seat panel to avoid heat deformations and ensure safety and stability. “With the bolted connection, you see rounded bolt heads but no warpage,” explained Smalldon. “It looks and performs better.” In all, the bench is made from four pieces.

Transit Bench was designed in New York and fabricated in Michigan. Balsley was pleased with the outcome. “If it was a fabricator I wasn’t familiar with, I would have been there. But Landscape Forms is a top shelf company,” he said. “Our other stainless pieces with them have been extraordinary.”

2 Responses to “Thomas Balsley Reaches Destination with Landscape Forms”

  1. Alicia Loy Griffin says:

    I have a few sculptural prototypes for Benches for the new Metro Crenshaw Rail Transit Project in Los Angeles, Ca .

    Alicialoygriffin.com

  2. Alicia Loy Griffin says:

    I really like the design that you have created. Very encouraging!

Post new comment

Name (required)

E-Mail (required)

Advertise on The Architect's Newspaper.

Submit your competitions for online listing.

Submit your events to AN's online calendar.




Archives

Categories

Copyright © 2014 | The Architect's Newspaper, LLC | AN Blog Admin Log in. The Architect's Newspaper LLC, 21 Murray Street 5th Floor | New York, New York 10007 | tel. 212.966.0630
Creative Commons License