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

Snøhetta and Architexas Make Leaves of Steel

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Friday, September 27, 2013
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The pavilion's design is inspired by the surrounding tree canopy. (Courtesy Architexas)

The pavilion’s design is inspired by the surrounding tree canopy. (Courtesy Architexas)

A Dallas pavilion’s exposed structure demanded extremely tight tolerances of Irving, Texas–based fabricator, CT&S.

Ten years ago, the Dallas Parks & Recreation Department launched a revitalization project to update 39 decrepit pavilions throughout its park system. One of them—which was to be designed by the New York office of Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta in partnership with local practice Architexas—sat at the mouth of a meadow lined by old pecan and oak trees on the southern side of College Park. Speaking about the site, Snøhetta director Elaine Molinar said, “You’re aware you’ve left the surrounding neighborhood and entered a more rural setting.” This is the feeling that the team wished to encourage in its design for a new pavilion.

Continue reading after the jump.

Situ Fabrication Cracks Google’s Code

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Friday, September 20, 2013
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Situ Fabrication crafted 27 12-foot-panels for the lobby of Google's New York City office. (courtesy Situ Fabrication)

Situ Fabrication crafted 27 12-foot-tall triangulated panels for the lobby of Google’s New York City office. (courtesy Situ Fabrication)

HLW’s binary design for Google’s New York office supports the company’s product offerings.

Google is renowned in design circles for its unique offices around the globe, and the main lobby of the Internet search giant’s New York City office is no exception. Architecture firm HLW took its inspiration for the design of the space from Google’s Code of Conduct. The architects rendered the document’s stipulations in binary code, and applied those perforations on a series of 27, 12-foot-tall triangulated aluminum wall panels. This digital-age design feature is a nod to Google’s domain as well as to the process by which the panels themselves were created.

Brooklyn-based Situ Fabrication, the newly established fabrication arm of Situ Studio, worked with HLW to achieve a monolithic appearance across each of the 27 panels. Since the design called for “folded-looking planes,” Situ Fabrication opted to work with 1/8-inch-thick aluminum composite material (ACM) for ease of manipulation and the clean edges that the material would produce when processed on wood working machines. To reinforce the ACM sheets, Situ designed and fabricated a triangulated frame from welded aluminum tubing, resulting in a 2-inch-thick panel section. Read More

Mikyoung Kim’s Stainless Steel Serpent

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Friday, September 13, 2013
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Mikyoung Kim's 70-foot sculpture engages viewers with color changing LEDs and vapor emitted through strategic perforations. (Marc LaRosa)

Mikyoung Kim’s 70-foot installation engages viewers with color changing LEDs and vapor emitted through strategic perforations. (Marc LaRosa)

Amuneal Manufacturing fabricates a “breathing” sculpture for a North Carolina plaza.

For a public plaza in downtown Chapel Hill, North Carolina, landscape architecture firm Mikyoung Kim Design designed a unique sculptural installation that doubles as a stormwater management system. The 70-foot linear form is centrally located to engage the town’s residents with a looped, 10-minute light show. A misting sequence, drawn from a subgrade cistern, emanates through the perforated metal skin of the sculpture, giving the impression that “Exhale” is actually a living, breathing object.

The original concept for the piece incorporated hydrological elements of the site in an engaging and transparent way, but the form was less defined. Over the course of nine months, designer Mikyoung Kim said her team designed countless rock-like shapes from clay, carving each from the inside out to achieve a thin, amorphous shape that consistently collapsed in on itself. Then, one night at home, Kim had a breakthrough when her idling hands picked up a few sheets of trace paper in the early morning hours. “I started folding a piece of trace paper and kept folding, and folding,” she recalled. “It was yellow and easy and beautiful; I fell in love with that.” The sheets also helped Kim balance her aim for delicacy with function and helped define Exhale’s fan-like corrugation. Read More

PROJECTiONE’s Engrained Parametrics

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Friday, September 6, 2013
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PROJECTiONE fabricated 280 fins from polystyrene for a 12-foot, free-standing architectural panel. (courtesy PROJECTiONE)

PROJECTiONE fabricated 280 fins from polystyrene for a 12-foot, free-standing architectural panel. (courtesy PROJECTiONE)

Designers in Indianapolis fabricate a graphic, splintered design.

Indiana-based design/build studio PROJECTiONE employs a multidisciplinary approach to its work that runs the gamut from digital to analog fabrication. Founders Adam Buente and Kyle Perry craftily bridged that gap with Synthetic Grain, a set piece for the Young & Laramore advertising agency of Indianapolis that explores the natural knotting and grain of lumber. The team used parametric software to create a graphic, 3D pattern system for an architectural screen that mimics natural variations of wood.

Working in Rhino, parallel lines—or the wood grain—were drawn and points were defined within. Each point served as a knot, around which the lines would gently curve. “Our only input for this project were those points in 3D space,” said Perry. To ready the design for fabrication, curves and cut holes for the plywood backing were generated in Grasshopper. Read More

Disheveled Geometry

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Friday, August 30, 2013
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Students of Mark Foster Gage's Disheveled Geometries seminar fabricated a 20-by-40-foot panel of Obomodulan. (Mary Burr)

Students of Mark Foster Gage’s Disheveled Geometries seminar fabricated a 20-by-40-inch panel of Obomodulan.  (Burr/Stranix)

Students use parametric design to fashion a porous architectural screen that draws from contemporary marble sculpture.

In the third edition of Mark Foster Gage’s Disheveled Geometries seminar at the Yale School of Architecture, students Mary Burr and Katie Stranix began their exploration of extreme surface textures with marble. Inspired by the sculptural work of Tara Donovan and Elizabeth Turk, the student duo set out to design a delicate yet porous screen that transformed a two dimensional panel into a rhythmic and dynamic 3D structure.

According to Stranix, the first design emerged as an aggregation of several different parts and wasn’t intended for parametric processes. “We wanted to maintain delicacy in our design but add porosity,” she told AN, referencing Herzog & de Meuron’s ground level screen at 40 Bond Street in Manhattan. Working in Maya, the students added elliptical apertures in varying diameters to transform the two-dimensional form in a wavy, 3D screen that departed significantly from a standard panel format. Read More

Ceilings Plus Soars in Texas

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Friday, August 23, 2013
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280 custom-fabricated ceilings panels are installed across 18 planes at the University of Houston's Quiet Hall. (Ryan Gobuty/Gensler)

At the University of Houston’s Quiet Hall, 280 custom-fabricated ceiling panels are installed across 18 planes. (Ryan Gobuty/Gensler)

Gensler’s design at the University of Houston is realized in a cloud-inspired, sound-absorptive ceiling solution.

Gensler and Ceilings Plus have brought a touch of the Big Apple to the University of Houston’s recently completed Quiet Hall in the Classroom and Business Building. Gensler drew its design inspiration for a ceiling in the new building from the New York Central Library’s Rose Reading Room. The firm hired the California-based Ceilings Plus to translate its interpretation of this classical interior, which includes perforations and geometric folds, into an affordable, buildable, and installable ceiling solution.

Ceilings Plus used digital software to marry the design architect’s vision with a workable model that offered minimal joint tolerances and maintained compatibility with HVAC systems. “Since the architect was interested in doing something completely new, it was important to realize that process together,” said Michael Chusid, who works in marketing and business development for Ceilings Plus. Gensler produced three conceptual renderings in Revit, then turned them over to project engineer Robert Wochner, who developed sound-absorptive perforations and a suspension system that could support the various angles of the Quiet Hall’s multi-planar ceiling. Read More

New Rhino Plugin, Ay-Karamba!

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Friday, August 16, 2013
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Eigenform_04

Justin Diles’ self-supporting Eigenform wall measures 11 feet in length, 6 1/2 feet in height, and varies in width from 2 inches to 2 feet. (Phil Arnold)

A fellow at the Knowlton School of Architecture expounds on the work of Le Ricolais with a new plugin for Rhino.

For Justin Diles, Ohio State University’s KSA LeFevre fellowship was a fateful progression of past experiences and ongoing professional work. While studying under Cecil Balmond at the University of Pennsylvania, Diles encountered hand-built models that Robert Le Ricolais constructed with his students in the 1960s. “Le Ricolais built models with his students for 20 years,” said Diles, “and one that I found he had built out of tubular steel and loaded to failure. It produced a really beautiful deformation pattern.”

Two years later, Diles was teaching at the University of Applied Arts Vienna in the master class studio of Greg Lynn. While in Austria, he met Clemens Preisinger, a developer who, with support from Klaus Bollinger’s firm Bollinger Grohman Engineers, wrote a new plugin for Rhino called Karamba. The plugin is an architect-friendly, finite, element analysis method that delivers fast, intuitive graphic information, along with the requisite numbers. The plugin would figure heavily in Diles’ fellowship work.

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Peace of Infinity in California

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Friday, August 9, 2013
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Concreteworks fabricated 122 8-inch components for an architectural screen in a California residence. (Mariko Reed)

Concreteworks fabricated 122 8-inch components for an architectural screen in a Sonoma, Calif., residence. (Mariko Reed)

Concreteworks fabricates a Hauer-inspired concrete screen for a residential West Coast architect.

Oakland, California–based design and fabrication studio Concreteworks has crafted custom concrete products—bath fixtures, commercial and residential surfacing, outdoor furniture—for more than 20 years. In the last three years, the company has branched out into “lab projects,” in which the 30-member workshop models and mills concrete into three-dimensional architectural features. It does so without the aid of specifications from the designer. “We solve the design issue and the technical requirements,” creative director Mark Rogero told AN.

Interior architect Michelle Wempe of Zumaooh discovered Concreteworks’ advanced capabilities in the company’s showroom and was impressed enough to incorporate the work in a residential project she was working on in Sonoma. Though her original design did not include it, Wempe asked Rogero to develop a custom patterned architectural screen at the terminus of a hallway between a living area and private quarters. “We got a lot of inspiration from Erwin Hauer’s work, and the client contributed some images of a 2D cross that is a symbol of peace in some parts of the world,” Rogero said.

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Inside Ball-Nogues Studio’s Canadian Vault

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Friday, August 2, 2013
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Ball-Nogues Studio engineered 930 reflective stainless steel spheres for a site-specific installation in Edmonton, Alberta. (Benjamin Ball)

Ball-Nogues Studio manipulated 930 reflective stainless steel spheres for a site-specific installation in Edmonton, Alberta. (Benjamin Ball)

In 2011, a major expansion to Edmonton, Alberta’s Quesnell Bridge generated an ongoing effort to enliven the landscape surrounding the overpass, which connects the northwest and southwest portions of Canada’s fifth largest city. A resultant public art commission from the Edmonton Arts Council for Los Angeles–based multidisciplinary design-build fabricators Ball-Nogues Studio called for an engaging installation along the south side of the North Saskatchewan River, which sees a live load of 120,000 vehicles each day.

While brainstorming the project, it was apparent to the firm’s principal and designer in charge Benjamin Ball that the areas immediately surrounding the bridge were not carefully considered by passengers. “It was a sort of no-man’s-land between the transportation infrastructure and the landscape,” he recently told AN. Drawing inspiration from the mundane—sand piles, gravel, and detritus from the trucking industry—and the majestic—talus and scree formations enveloping the base of surrounding cliffs—Ball and the studio’s cofounder Nogues applied their knowledge of sphere packing to echo the angle of repose of natural and man-made mounds. Read More

Allied Works and Arup Find Common Ground in SketchUp

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Friday, July 26, 2013
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Various design iterations for the perforated concrete ceiling at Denver's Clyfford Still Museum were modeled in SketchUp and Rendered in Maxwell Render. (courtesy Allied Works)

Various design iterations for the perforated concrete ceiling at Denver’s Clyfford Still Museum were modeled in SketchUp and Rendered in Maxwell Render. (courtesy Allied Works)

Allied Works communicates with project collaborators Arup Daylighting via SketchUp plugins.

When Joe Esch, Brad Schell, and a small group of AEC and CAD industry veterans launched SketchUp nearly 13 years ago in Boulder, Colorado, many of the 3D modeling tools on the market had been developed for the entertainment industry. Google acquired the company in 2006, and Trimble bought it in 2012, yet in spite of these changes in ownership, the team has continued to develop SketchUp into an intuitive design-build program to develop sketches and 3D models for the AEC industry. With its user-accessible Ruby API (application programming interface), the generic modeling program of yesteryear has become a full-blown, application specific design tool capable of detailing architectural projects faster and cheaper than in the past.

In addition to the program’s capabilities that facilitate 2D drawings and 3D models, the latest release of the software—SketchUp Pro 2013—includes a categorized selection of plugins organized within the new Extension Warehouse. According to John Bacus, product management director at Trimble for SketchUp, a study conducted several years ago revealed 45 percent of SketchUp users had used plugins, but without an organized search and retrieval system those benefits were underutilized. “There was some chaos in that world, with people writing extensions that didn’t perform particularly well,” said Bacus. A team of developers has worked to compile and format 167 extensions that have been downloaded more than 200,000 times since its release less than two months ago. Read More

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