Prefab Alpolic Units: Rapid type and SUM

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Friday, June 3, 2011
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Intersecting ribs form the prefabricated coffee cart's shell (Rapid type)

A coffee stand prototype explores new possibilities for small-scale modular construction.

As part of a push to get its products into the hands of young architects, the Alpolic division of Mitsubishi Plastics sponsored a spring design/build studio entitled “Rapid type” at the California College of the Arts (CCA). The goal was for 15 students, led by CCA adjunct architecture professors Andre Caradec and Kory Bieg, to explore new design uses and assembly techniques for Alpolic aluminum composite materials (ACM), which are most commonly used for exterior cladding and signage. The students had at their disposal not only the school’s resources, but also those of Bieg’s San Francisco-based design and fabrication firm OTA+ and Caradec’s Oakland-based design and fabrication firm, Studio Under Manufacture (SUM). Given the college’s location at the nexus of a burgeoning San Francisco food truck scene and students’ proclivity for caffeine, the team landed on design of a mobile coffee service unit as a means of testing Alpolic’s limits.

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SmithGroup′s ASU Facade: Kovach

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Friday, May 27, 2011
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The facade includes six copper panel types (Liam Frederick)

Articulated copper clads gateway building to new College of Nursing in Phoenix

Copper has certain attributes that make it an appealing facade option in arid climates. The first is that it doesn’t turn green. “Here in the desert, it weathers like a penny in your pocket,” said Mark Kranz, the SmithGroup Phoenix design principal in charge of the recently completed Arizona State University College of Nursing and Health Innovation Phase II project. Clad in an articulated and partially perforated copper skin, the 84,000-square-foot, five-story facility complements a collection of existing and new buildings that form the college’s new Phoenix campus. This month, the project won a 2011 North American Copper in Architecture Award, earning points not only for the identity it imparts to the campus, but also for a unique panel design that delivers environmental performance at a low cost.

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Nilus Designs′ W.E.T. Seat

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Friday, May 20, 2011
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W.E.T. seat 1/8 scale prototype made with 2mm coroplast (Nilus Designs)

Polycarbonate sheets become an interactive bench, part of Fort Mason Center’s upcoming SEAT exhibition.

San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center will be the stage for an outdoor chair show set to open June 23. Called SEAT, the yearlong exhibition is being curated by artist and landscape designer Topher Delaney, of Seam Studio, and will include work by more than 40 designers, artists, and architects. Each team was given a site on the former Fort’s 13-acre waterfront campus, which now serves as an arts and culture venue. As one of the invited participants, San Francisco-based Nilus Designs is preparing an interactive piece called W.E.T: West End Terminal, an anthropomorphic bench created with carefully stacked strata of clear twin-wall polycarbonate.

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Vlad Tenu′s Minimal Complexity: Tex-Fab

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Friday, May 13, 2011
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The Tex-Fab Repeat Competition winner: Minimal Complexity (Vlad Tenu)

The winner of the second annual Tex-Fab competition explores ideas of modular assembly and material efficiency.

Earlier this year, design practitioners from across the world converged on Houston to attend Tex-Fab 2.0, a two-day conference featuring experts, lectures, and workshops. Tex-Fab is a non-profit initiative founded by Brad Bell (Brad Bell Studio), Kevin Patrick McClellan (Architecturebureau), and Andrew Vrana (METALAB) to create a network of Texas designers focused on exploring issues of parametric design and digital fabrication. The organization hopes to serve as a bridge between academia, professional design offices, and industrial fabricators throughout the country.

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Aidlin Darling′s Bar Agricole Banquettes: Concreteworks

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Friday, May 6, 2011
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The bar's custom concrete banquettes (Concreteworks)

Ribbon-thin Ductal concrete creates sculptural seating at a San Francisco eatery.

The Aidlin Darling-designed Bar Agricole has brought new life to a warehouse in San Francisco’s industrial South of Market neighborhood. Built in 1912, the renovated building is now home to the 4,000-square-foot “urban tavern” owned by restaurateur Thad Vogler. Taking an unconventional approach to realizing his design vision, Vogler commissioned work from the designer and a variety of trades in exchange for a stake in the business. One of those craftsmen was Oakland-based concrete design and fabrication company Concreteworks.
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Wilson Savastano Venezia′s Dukhan facade: TAKTL

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Friday, April 29, 2011
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Prototype of a perforated Dukhan facade panel (TAKTL)

High-performance concrete creates new possibilities for a community college facade.

A new generation of concrete, called Ultra High Performance Concrete (UHPC), is changing the way architects and designers think about the material. Usually composed of cement, fine grain sand, silica fume, optimized admixture, and alkali-resistant glass fiber reinforcement, UHPC offers high ductility, strength, and durability with a fine surface appearance. A new UHPC product called TAKTL, launched last year, shows the many additional applications that are possible with the right material mix, including facade panels available through its sister company VECTR. Recently chosen by Milan-based Wilson Savastano Venezia Architecture Studio for its Dukhan Community College (DCC) project in Qatar, the company is in the research and development phase for perforated and solid panels to clad the school’s sculptural facade.
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Mike Niven′s Condo Presentation Center: Eventscape

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Friday, April 22, 2011
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Lacquer-coated MDF panels enclose a seating area (Eventscape)

A sales center on Toronto’s west side shows off a multifaceted approach to fabrication.

The new Studio On Richmond condominiums are located in the middle of Toronto’s Entertainment District, an emerging cultural area around Queen Street on the west side. The 31-story building, designed by Toronto-based Quadrangle Architects, includes 8,000 square feet of space that the Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCADU) will use as a public art gallery and café. The condo’s 2,950-square-foot sales center needed to reflect the area’s artistic vibe, so interior design firm Mike Niven Interior Design turned to Eventscape, a custom architectural fabricator also based in Toronto, to build a collection of faceted, folded elements to reflect the neighborhood’s personality and inspire potential condo buyers.

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Molo′s Nebuta House Ribbon Screen

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Friday, April 15, 2011
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Each bent steel ribbon is unique (Molo)

Steel takes on a paper-like appearance at Aomori’s new cultural center, creating a dynamic backdrop for life on the Japanese city’s waterfront.

Nearly a decade ago, Vancouver-based design and production studio Molo Design won an international competition for its design of a housing and community project in Aomori, Japan. As firm founders Stephanie Forsythe and Todd MacAllen worked with the City of Aomori in the years following the competition, the design evolved into that of a cultural center celebrating the city’s yearly Nebuta festival, during which huge mythical creatures made of wood, wire, paper, and lights are paraded through the streets. Though millions attend the festival every August, the cultural center would provide an opportunity for more visitors to witness their creation throughout the year.

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Beckley Las Vegas Display Tree: Flatcut

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Friday, April 8, 2011
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The tree is installed at Beckley Boutique in the Cosmopolitan Resort and Casino, Las Vegas (Flatcut)

Unraveling strands of steel pipe create a clothing display and focal point for the tony boutique.

Flatcut, a design and fabrication firm with a studio in Brooklyn and a 100,000-square-foot facility in Passaic, New Jersey, has more than 100 machines to its name. Though it has the capabilities to mass-produce 20,000 custom furniture pieces and 50,000-square-foot facades, the firm also creates small, site-specific installations for museums and retail stores. Most recently the Beckley Boutique, a celebrity hot spot and shopping destination on Melrose Avenue, hired Flatcut to design an eye-catching design feature at its new Las Vegas outpost in the Cosmopolitan Resort and Casino.

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Doban Architecture′s Academic Center: Think Fabricate

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Friday, April 1, 2011
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Prefabricated faculty offices offer space for one-on-one tutoring (Kevin Chu Photography)

A custom-built environment allows faculty and students to work collaboratively at a new academic center in the Bronx.

Doban Architecture has a longstanding history with Monroe College. In 2009, the Brooklyn-based firm founded by Susan Doban completed a modular pod design for the Bronx school’s loft-style dormitories at 565 Main Street, a building for which they had also worked on an award-winning facade restoration. Last fall, the firm completed a renovation of the school’s 2,360-square-foot academic center with a scheme that allows students and faculty to interact in a collaborative environment. Neither of these projects would have been possible without Think Fabricate, the firm’s sister company. Co-founded by Doban and Jason Gorsline in November 2009, the design studio handles design projects across a range of disciplines—furniture, product, graphic, and industrial—in addition to operating its own fabrication shop in a shared East Williamsburg workspace.

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Epiphyte Lab′s Hsu House Mass Wall

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Friday, March 25, 2011
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The poured-in-place concrete wall (Susan and Jerry Kaye)

A south-facing heat sink mass wall stores heat and diffuses light, creating an all-seasons solarium for an energy efficient home in Upstate New York.

Dana Cupkova and Kevin Pratt, founders of Ithaca-based design and research practice Epiphyte Lab, met the client for which they built Hsu House in one of Cupkova’s classes at Cornell where she teaches design and fabrication strategies for ecologically adaptive construction systems. The client, a medical doctor, was in the class with the goal of designing his own energy efficient home in Danby, New York, but after an initial consultation, asked Cupkova and Pratt to design it instead.

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EOA′s Spring Street Loft: Amuneal

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Friday, March 18, 2011
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A swinging door reveals the freight elevator (EOA)

Sliding blackened steel walls create functional space in an art collector’s loft.

When Philadelphia-based Amuneal Manufacturing Corp. won a bid to fabricate a set of large movable residential walls designed by New York-based Elmslie Osler Architect (EOA), they had a lot of experience to draw on. As experts in the field of magnetic shielding, they work routinely for aerospace and scientific research industries, while the company’s custom fabrication branch handles everything from retail fixtures to large-scale public art installations. For EOA’s project, a gut renovation of a 2,200-square-foot Soho loft, Amuneal began with the architects’ drawings of large sliding doors needed to reveal or conceal parts of the apartment.

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