Snøhetta’s RAK Gateway Facade Prototype

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Friday, February 10, 2012
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The finished RAK Gateway prototype (PCT)

A preview of the collaboration behind the entryway to Ras Al Khaimah

Snøhetta’s 656-foot-tall Gateway tower, 93 miles east of Dubai, will mark the entrance to the new planned capital city of the United Arab Emirates, Ras Al Khaimah. Inspired by the surrounding desert and mountain landscape, the project’s undulating form will bring almost 3 million square feet of mixed-use space to the city, which is being master planned by Netherlands-based firm OMA. Snøhetta has designed a prototype of the building’s white-scaled skin in collaboration with Dubai-based lightweight composite manufacturer Premier Composite Technologies (PCT).

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Synthesis Design’s Bespoke Office

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Friday, February 3, 2012
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The desk's volumes conceal storage space (Peter Guenzel)

A carefully detailed private workspace conceals office equipment behind birch plywood ribs

It’s a reality of the modern work world that many people work from home. But a home office need not look like a corporate cube. That was the idea behind a customized workspace designed for a personal investment advisor by Los Angeles-based Synthesis Design + Architecture. Located in the client’s Chelsea home in London, the design conceals storage units and office equipment behind a sculptural work surface.

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Bridge 5721: Historic Restoration and Relocation

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Friday, January 27, 2012
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The 3-D laser scan allowed engineers to look at the bridge even after it was dismantled (O.N.E.)

Laser scanning technology helped a Minnesota bridge find its third home

One of 24 historic bridges chosen for preservation by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Bridge 5721 is one of the state’s only remaining wrought iron bridge structures. The bridge was originally built to carry pedestrians over a river in Sauk Center, Minnesota, in 1870, before modern steel production methods had become available. In 1937, the bridge was disassembled and moved to span the Little Fork River near the town of Silverdale. But more than two years ago, the structure began its journey to a third incarnation, this time as an equestrian and pedestrian bridge for the Gateway Trail in the town of Stillwater, near Minneapolis. Because of the bridge’s provenance and the desire to keep its wrought iron parts intact, the Minnesota DOT worked with new owner Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and structural engineers at HNTB and Olson & Nesvold Engineers (O.N.E.) to collect crucial data for the rehabilitation using new 3-D laser scanning technology.
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Rojkind Arquitectos’ Tori-Tori Restaurant

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Friday, January 20, 2012
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Offset steel layers are painted in two shades of gray (Paúl Rivera)

A double-layer steel lattice transforms a former residence into a Japanese eatery’s new home in Mexico City

When Mexico City-based architect Michel Rojkind was chosen as one of the Architectural League’s Emerging Voices lecturers in 2010, he already had a lot of work under his belt. His firm, Rojkind Arquitectos, had recently completed Nestlé’s factory and chocolate museum in Querétaro and was beginning work on a 54-story mixed-use tower on Mexico City’s chic Paseo Reforma. But in spite of big-name projects, the architect who started out as a rock-and-roll drummer maintained a connection to the fabrication of his projects, collaborating with local workers and using simple components instead of employing more complicated techniques. “I joke with my Swiss architect friends that I wouldn’t know how to work in Switzerland, where everything is perfect,” he told AN in a May 2010 interview. “You have to figure out ways to make things happen here, and it inspires me.” A testament to that inspiration, Rojkind’s new Tori-Tori restaurant employs a double-layer steel lattice to transform an existing residential structure in Mexico City’s rapidly changing Polanco neighborhood.

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Play It Forward: A Temporary Interactive Installation

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Friday, January 13, 2012
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Part of this year’s Digital Capital Week, the project turns games into donations for a charitable cause.

When Washington, D.C.-area designers Hiroshi Jacobs, Jonathan Grinham, and Kash Bennett were asked to create an installation for Digital Capital Week’s 24-Hour City Project, which seeks to improve urban environments with creative technology, they knew it had to be more than just something to look at. The team created Play It Forward, an interactive, motion-sensing display that donates a small amount of money to charity each time someone plays with it. Unveiled at the technology festival’s closing party at Arena Stage and now part of an exhibit at D.C.’s Project 4 Gallery, the installation demonstrates how advanced parametric design and digital fabrication methods can work together to encourage interaction and promote social change in the process.

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Brooks + Scarpa’s Contemporary Art Museum Canopy in Raleigh

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Friday, January 6, 2012
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The adaptive reuse highlights Raleigh's red-brick vernacular (Brooks + Scarpa)

A folded canopy reinvents a former loading dock in the city’s historic Depot District

Raleigh’s Contemporary Art Museum chose its new home in the city’s Depot District carefully. Located in a former produce warehouse, the project calls attention to the city’s history of railroad transportation and red brick architecture while emphasizing its commitment to sustainability and adaptive reuse. Led by Brooks + Scarpa Architects, the project included renovation of the existing 21,000-square-foot structure and the addition of a 900-square-foot entry pavilion. The glass-enclosed lobby reinterprets the location of the original building’s loading dock with an expanded and folded canopy that announces the building’s new purpose and balances the effect of daylight on its interiors.

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BLOCK Research Group’s Freeform Catalan Thin-Tile Vault

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Friday, December 30, 2011
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The freeform vaulted structure is BLOCK Research Group's first built prototype (BLOCK)

A research project explores techniques from the past to learn about building stronger structures in the future

Sometimes research involves destruction in the name of creation. Architects and engineers from Zurich-based BLOCK Research Group at science and technology university ETH Zurich recently teamed up to build, and destroy, a vaulted masonry structure that was designed with advanced digital fabrication methods but constructed with traditional timbrel, or Catalan, thin-tile vaulting techniques. Through its research of freeform shells, tiling patterns, building sequences, and formwork, the group hopes to construct increasingly radical forms without sacrificing efficiency.

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LEAPfactory’s Gervasutti Refuge

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Friday, December 23, 2011
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Installation of the Gervasutti Bivouac on the Mont Blanc range's Freboudze Glacier (LEAPfactory)

Built to withstand extreme weather conditions, the alpine pod explores new frontiers for prefabricated architecture

Climbers on the Freboudze glacier can now take refuge from the punishing terrain of the Italian Alps thanks to a new prefabricated shelter commissioned by Italian alpine club CAI Torino. The New Gervasutti Refuge, which cantilevers from the rocky landscape in front of the east face of the Mont Blanc Range’s Grandes Jorasses, was designed and fabricated by LEAPfactory, an Italian firm specializing in modular structures with low environmental impact.

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Haresh Lalvani’s Morphing Fruit Platter 1D Series 300

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Friday, December 16, 2011
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One of 1,000 patterns created as part of the Morphing Fruit Platter 1D Series 300 (Moss)

The designer’s most recent collaboration with Milgo/Bufkin explores mass customization

Architect-morphologist Haresh Lalvani is continuing his longtime relationship with Brooklyn-based fabricator Milgo/Bufkin with the Morphing Fruit Platter 1D Series 300, which was unveiled at this year’s Design Miami as part of the Moss exhibit, Mass Customization of Emergent Designs. The 100 platters presented at Moss represent the designer’s latest thoughts about the intersection of mathematics and manufacturing based on a process he calls Lautomation.

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Buckminster Fuller’s Fly’s Eye Dome Restoration: Goetz Composites

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Friday, December 9, 2011
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Assembly of the restored dome in Goetz's shop (Ian Garber)

Fabrication techniques honed for racing boats give the dome new life.

Racing boat builder Goetz Composites has crafted many icons of the sea, including ten America’s Cup boats. Now, the company is trying its hand at architectural icons. Several months ago, Goetz began the restoration of Buckminster Fuller’s Fly’s Eye Dome, one of only three existing prototypes of the prefabricated shelters that the designer patented in 1965. The piece, a 24-foot-wide fiberglass shell with Plexiglas eyes, had been neglected for years and arrived at Goetz’s Bristol, Rhode Island, headquarters with chipped corners, peeling paint, and a patina of mold.

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a+i’s White Veil Wall: Ceilings Plus

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Friday, December 2, 2011
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The screen spans the ceiling and the three-story atrium of a Midtown Manhattan office (Magda Biernat)

A custom-perforated screen balances lighting and privacy in a three-story New York office space.

Ceilings are not just for the ceiling anymore. “With architecture becoming more organic in shape, we are becoming the architecture, not just a ceiling or wall,” said Nancy Mercolino, the president of architectural ceiling, wall, and enclosure manufacturer Ceilings Plus. This fall, the company completed a 33-foot-tall painted aluminum feature wall at the Manhattan offices of a global investment management firm. Designed by New York-based a+i design corp, the project was a consolidation of the firm’s offices in the city, adding three floors to the company’s existing three-story office space in a Midtown building.

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Brooklyn Navy Yard Gates: Ferra Designs

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Friday, November 18, 2011
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Designers abstracted photography of manufacturing scenes to create the gate's pattern (Ferra)

The Building 92 museum’s new gates were inspired by a history of manufacturing

Last week, the Brooklyn Navy Yard threw open its doors to the public for the first time in more than two centuries. With the opening of its new BLDG 92, designed by Beyer Blinder Belle in collaboration with workshop/apd, the Yard welcomed community members to the new 24,000-square-foot exhibition space and visitors’ center. From their first view of the building’s south-facing forecourt, visitors will be inspired to learn about the area’s industrial past by an operable gate made by Ferra Designs, an architectural metal fabricator that calls the Navy Yard home.

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