A New Bench-mark at Governors Island

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Friday, January 3, 2014
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Over three miles of curbs and benches were fabricated from precast concrete. (Timothy Schenck/courtesy The Trust for Governors Island)

Over three miles of curbs and benches were fabricated from precast concrete. (Timothy Schenck/courtesy The Trust for Governors Island)

Southside Precast Products fabricates landscape architecture firm West 8’s designs for an organic system of concrete benches and curbs.

When Dutch landscape architecture firm West 8 envisioned a new terrain for Governors Island in New York’s East River, part of the plan included a section dubbed The Hills. The recently completed curving expanse of green space is defined by nearly one dozen curved sections, or “petals,” of seamless, white concrete bench and curb edges fabricated by Buffalo, New York-based Southside Precast Products.

Ellen Cavanagh, Director of Park Design and Construction for the Governors Island Trust, said that the concrete pathways along the petals help define areas where the ground was formed to rise and recede. “They call it eyeliner,” she told AN in a recent interview. “Thick and bold white stripes give your eye an anchor so you have a better sense of depth as opposed to one solid color.” At approximately 24 inches in width, the curbs along Governor’s Island are decidedly more massive than standard street curbs. Read More

Miró Rivera Architects’ Formula (Number) One

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Friday, December 20, 2013
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The 250-foot observation tower was designed, engineered, and constructed in approximately 11 months. (courtesy Miro Rivera Architects)

The 250-foot observation tower was designed, engineered, and constructed in approximately 11 months. (courtesy Miro Rivera Architects)

Austin’s Circuit of the Americas gets an iconic observation tower using 350 tons of steel.

The Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, will host the United States Grand Prix from 2012 to 2021. While German Formula 1 specialist Hermann Tilke designed the racecourse and technical facilities, COTA’s owners hired local firm Miró Rivera Architects to turn out a main grandstand and amenities for the 9,000 fans expected to attend the races. In addition to imbuing the project with a variety of programmatic functions that go beyond racing, Miró Rivera created a sleek observation tower that gives spectators unrestricted views across the racetrack’s twisting expanse.

“Our idea for the tower was to be able to go way up and see the track from one focal point in a structure that was an iconographic symbol for the track,” said Miguel Rivera, founder and principal of the architecture firm. “Our inspiration came from Formula 1 cars, where speed and efficiency are so important.” Just like the track’s feature attractions, the tower’s design didn’t feature any excesses. Structural engineers at Walter P Moore helped ensure every piece of steel did some kind of work so the tower was as efficient as possible. Read More

Thomas Balsley Reaches Destination with Landscape Forms

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Friday, December 13, 2013
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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.

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Situ Studio’s Sweet Food Truck

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Friday, December 6, 2013
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Situ Fabrication produced social entity Drive Change's first food truck. (IS Collective)

Situ Fabrication produced social entity Drive Change’s first food truck. (courtesy Situ Studio)

A social enterprise’s first mobile food entity uses design, mechanics, and hospitality to benefit incarcerated youths.

As the food truck craze continues to gain speed, it was only a matter of time before Brooklyn-based Situ Studio—one of the country’s premier design/build outfits—was tasked with creating a kitchen on wheels. But their opportunity to design and fabricate was not for just another rolling burger joint or mobile ice cream stand. The recently completed Snowday is the first food truck from Drive Change, a social enterprise that trains previously incarcerated youths to operate and manage roving restaurants.

Situ Studio and Fabrication’s co-founder and partner Aleksey Lukyanov-Cherny said client Jordyn Lexton, Drive Change’s founder, had a strong vision for the program. Her business model calls for locally sourced ingredient themed menus. Snowday’s ingredient is Grade A maple syrup harvested in upstate New York. To relay the image of a cabin in the woods where one might refine the tree sap, she envisioned a raw, natural facade that was both organic and industrial. Read More

Perkins+Will Canada’s VanDusen Gardens Orchid

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Friday, November 22, 2013
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StructureCraft fabricated 71 timber roofing panels for Canada's first Living Building Challenge-targeted new construction project. (Nic Lehoux)

StructureCraft fabricated 71 modular roofing panels from timber for a Living Building Challenge-targeted new construction project. (Nic Lehoux)

StructureCraft fabricates an orchid-shaped roof that supports vegetation and Living Building Challenge principles.

After serving patrons at one of Vancouver’s oldest botanical gardens for nearly 100 years, the VanDusen Gardens Visitors Centre had fallen dangerously into disrepair. Perkins+Will Canada conceived of a new, orchid-shaped center that meets CaGBC’s LEED Platinum ratings, and is the country’s first structure to target the International Living Building Challenge with features like geothermal boreholes, a 75-square meter photovoltaic array, and a timber roof that supports vegetation. To help fabricate the wooden structure to Perkins + Will Canada’s vision, the team contracted StructureCraft, a Vancouver-based design-build studio specializing in timber craftsmanship and structural solutions.

Initial designs for the 19,000-square-foot building were delivered to StructureCraft as Rhino files. The uniquely shaped rooftop, which mimics an outline of the indigenous British Columbia orchid, had to be economically fabricated in a way that took net carbon effects into account. Within Rhino plugins—mainly Grasshopper—and with the help of strucutral engineers Fast + Epp, the StructureCraft team sliced the shape of the building into 71 long, curved panels of repeatable geometries. “Each curve is unique, so there’s a different radii for each beam,” said Lucas Epp, a structural engineer who worked on the project. “We optimized the global geometry of the roof so the radii of all the beams were in our fabrication tolerances but still achieved the architect’s desired aesthetic.” Read More

Kammetal Tops Off SOM’s 1 World Trade Center

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Friday, November 15, 2013
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Kammetal fabricated 48 triangular panels for the beacon of 1 World Trade Center in Manahattan. (courtesy DCM Erectors)

Kammetal fabricated 48 triangular panels for the beacon of 1 World Trade Center. (courtesy DCM Erectors)

Seven tons of glass and steel clad a structural stainless frame on the Western Hemisphere’s tallest building.

Brooklyn-based metal fabrication company Kammetal and DCM Erectors of New Jersey were selected to fabricate and install the crowning beacon atop the spire on 1 World Trade Center. The fabrication team executed SOM’s design for a dynamic and complex adornment to one of the country’s most anticipated buildings, along with the help of engineers at Buro Happold to ensure safety at 1,776 feet.

To craft a 15-ton, 50-foot beacon that accounted for thermal expansion and movement, Kammetal modeled and drew their designs in SolidWorks. The company’s team laser cut 48 triangular 316 stainless steel panels with ¼-inch thickness in a nondirectional finish to clad DCM’s square tubular steel frame. “Before we started the project, we had the structural frame 3D scanned to generate a point cloud,” explained Sam Kusack, president at Kammetal. “Because the structure was so dynamic—it contains zero right angles or reference points—we had to verify the conditions.” Read More

Tex-Fab’s Rigidized Metal SKIN

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Friday, November 8, 2013
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University at Buffalo's Nicholas Bruscia and Christopher Romano's 3xLT project won first place in Tex-Fab's SKIN. (Raf Godlewski and Stephen Olson)

University at Buffalo’s Nicholas Bruscia and Christopher Romano’s 3xLP project won first place in Tex-Fab’s SKIN. (Raf Godlewski and Stephen Olson)

A structural, textured metal system wins first place in a competition and the chance to develop a façade with Zahner.

Reinforcing the idea that time fosters wisdom, Nicholas Bruscia and Christopher Romano’s third iteration of a structural architectural screen was awarded first place in Tex-Fab’s digital fabrication competition, SKIN. According to Tex-Fab’s co-director, Andrew Vrana, the team’s 3xLP project was selected for its innovative façade system, which uses parametric design and digital fabrication.

The 3xLP designers’ exploration of the relationship between academia and manufacturing merged at the University at Buffalo’s (UB) Department of Architecture. Starting their collaborative research with a digital model, Bruscia and Romano solicited the help of local manufacturer Rigidized Metals, (RM), who helped realize the second stage of the project’s evolution with two thin gauge metals featuring proprietary patterns. “The project is important because we’ve partnered so closely with Rigidized Metals,” Roman told AN. “We’ve brought digital and computational expertise, and they’ve provided material knowledge for textured metal—it’s a reciprocal team.” Read More

MAD Museum gets Out of Hand

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Friday, November 1, 2013
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The ICD/ITKE Research Pavilion by Achim Menges and Jan Knippers is part of MAD Museum's new exhibition. (Achim Menges)

The ICD/ITKE Research Pavilion by Achim Menges and Jan Knippers is part of MAD Museum’s new exhibition. (Achim Menges)

A cross-section of postdigital design work illustrates the role of parametrics in the built environment.

Spawned from his 2011 show on Patrick Jouin, Museum of Arts & Design (MAD) curator Ronald Labaco conceived Out of Hand as a more comprehensive show that clarified the role of digital design, from its capabilities to its significance in our daily lives. “People just didn’t get it,” said Labaco of Jouin’s 2011 MAD show. “Unless you’re immersed in it, it can be hard to understand so I thought if we showed something like this in the galleries again, we needed to provide information that can be digested more clearly.”

Staged across three floors of the museum, with two exterior sculptures, Labaco said the show is an important program for MAD among other New York art institutions like MoMA, Cooper Hewitt, and the New Museum. The goal to raise awareness of 3D printing is timely, by chance. “Paolo Antonelli’s Design and the Elastic Mind, and two shows from Material Connection were complements to my show for the uninitiated,” Labaco explained. Out of Hand’s broad scope includes digital designing and fabrication processes like CNC milling, digital weaving and knitting, laser cutting, and 3D printing to display how these technologies influence the built environment. “It’s a historical look at the last 8 years and works from as early as 2005 are incorporated because, in my mind, that was when the major shift between rapid prototyping and 3D printing really occurred,” said Labaco. Read More

Rojkind Arquitectos’ Mexican Treehouse

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Friday, October 25, 2013
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Templates for a 14-foot wooden treehouse were printed on an HP Designjet T920. (courtesy Rojkind Arquitectos)

Templates for a 14-foot wooden treehouse were printed on an HP Designjet T920. (courtesy Rojkind Arquitectos)

Francisco Saavedra fabricates a template to scale with large-format, Designjet printers from HP.

Founded in 2002, Rojkind Arquitectos is leaving an imprint across its native Mexico through a combination of civic, retail, residential, and hospitality projects. Its innovative design and production methods have garnered international recognition, particularly for projects like Nestlé’s Chocolate Museum is in Toluca and innovation lab in Querétaro, and Mexico City’s Tori Tori Japanese restaurant, but the firm also engages in smaller projects and creative diversions that explore new avenues of the design/build process.

Casa del Arbol is one such example. Conceived as an add-on for a venerable client, the project is a tree house for the family’s three young daughters. “There was a bird’s nest in the garden when we visited the site,” said Gerardo Salinas, partner at Rojkind. “And a 2-meter space between two trees in the yard was an ideal location that wouldn’t damage the existing trees.” Read More

The Twisting Tour Total

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Friday, October 18, 2013
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Aesthetic dynamics for the 18-story tower were designed in Rhino. (Ina Reinecke)

Aesthetic dynamics for the 18-story tower were designed in Rhino. (Ina Reinecke)

Barkow Leibinger designs a precast folded facade that puts a gentle spin on surrounding traditional architecture.

On one of the last urban tracts of available land in Berlin, Germany, local architecture firm Barkow Leibinger recently completed an 18-story tower, Tour Total. Highly visible from a neighboring train station, and the first completed project in the site’s 40-acre master plan, the tower has a raster facade with precast concrete panels that were geometrically computed in Rhino to create twisting inflections, conveying a sense of movement around the building’s four sides.

As a load-bearing facade, 40 percent of the surface is closed, and 60 percent is triple-glazed, with every other window operable. In addition to integrated energy management strategies—the first building tenant is French energy company Total—partner Frank Barkow said the firm’s extensive background in digital fabrication and research allowed the efficient development of the dynamic facade. Drawing from the surrounding, traditionally quadrilinear brick facades of the 1920s and 30s, the tower’s lines are imbued with an engrained depth that twists optically to read differently in direct sun or cloudy weather, without actually moving. Read More

Blurred Lines: SOFTlab and Cosentino

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Friday, October 11, 2013
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SOFTlab's ATRIUn model is on view through the month of October, as part of an ongoing exhibition featuring designs with Dekton. (Creative Whirlwind)

SOFTlab’s ATRIUn model is on view through the month of October, as part of an ongoing exhibition featuring designs with Dekton. (Creative Whirlwind)

A new exhibition helps a New York-based firm explore indoor and outdoor applications of a new building material.

Cosentino is celebrating Architecture Month with Surface Innovation, a multi-media exhibition at the Center for Architecture in New York that presents innovative applications of its new Dekton material. A combination of raw, inorganic materials found in glass, porcelain, and natural quartz, the new indoor/outdoor surfacing material is made with particle sintering technology (PST) that recreates the natural process of stone formation. The company invited six local architecture firms to design unique projects featuring the material, including SOFTlab, a design/build firm known for its mix of research, craft, and technology in large-scale installations and building projects.

For SOFTlab, working with a product that could be used for both interiors and exterior applications was an opportunity to reconcile the growing inverse relationship between the skin and volume of large buildings. “We came up with the idea of building something a little more dense than a single story or residentially scaled building, where Dekton may be used,” said Michael Svivos, founder and director of SOFTlab. “We went to a larger scale building, that blurs the inside and outside.” Read More

W Seattle Hotel’s Parametric Pilings

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Friday, October 4, 2013
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Each column measures approximately 36 inches in diameter. (Boone Speed/Skylab Architecture)

One dozen columns are wrapped in a CNC milled wood solution that recalls Seattle’s cultural and maritime history. (Boone Speed/Skylab Architecture)

LIT Workshop fabricated sleek lodge poles to complement the city’s heritage.

When Starwood Properties began to reimagine a new living room concept for the W Seattle, the existing first floor space featured a disconnected bar, restaurant, and lounge area, much like the traditional layout of a formal home. Portland, Oregon–based architecture firm Skylab Architecture was charged with knocking down the visual barriers for an open floor plan that resembled a more modern, casual living space.

Several preexisting columns could not be removed for structural reasons, so a truly open plan had to be amended. “In some ways you could see them as a negative, or they could be seen as a positive,” Skylab principal Brent Grubb told AN. “We try to turn those perceived negatives into a design element and make it unique.” Researching the city’s cultural and maritime history inspired the architecture team to combine the water-worn patina of shore-front pilings with the physical mass of wooden totem poles. The solution was a parametrically streamlined form that was fabricated in modular sections for swift installation. Read More

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