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

NeoCon Taken by “Force”

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Friday, July 19, 2013
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The Guild fabricated a site-specific installation for Chicago's Merchandise Mart during NeoCon 2013. (James Shanks)

The Guild fabricated a site-specific installation for Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. (James Shanks)

Wolf-Gordon’s “Force of Nature” spirals through Chicago’s Merchandise Mart during NeoCon 2013.

Based on the success of Wolf-Gordon’s inaugural NeoCon installation in 2012, chief creative officer Marybeth Shaw commissioned yet another show-stopping design piece for 2013. With the working title “Forces of Nature,” she turned once again to New York City–based design studio karlssonwilker and Brooklyn-based design-build collaborative The Guild to create a sculpture that would showcase the breadth of the company’s textiles and wall coverings. “The title ended up being quite appropriate to the final form, as the sculpture is a geometric construct with all of the resulting physical forces that might spin it out of the Mart’s ‘town square,’” Shaw recently told AN.

Karlssonwilker initially conceived of a kinetic sculpture, but Shaw wanted a large installation—nearly 30 feet long and 14 feet wide. At that size, there was no room for movement within the given space, a double-height ceiling over an escalator that would carry 42,000 show attendees. “We wanted it to rotate like a rotisserie chicken, but we went for a larger form,” said Graham Kelman, creative manager for The Guild. Ultimately, the team decided on a static sculpture resembling a twisted spine that gives a sense of movement through color and form. “I lost sleep over whether it would fit because if there was flex in the spine, it wouldn’t work.”

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Fallen Angels Rescued Parametrically

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Friday, July 12, 2013
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Boston Valley Terra Cotta restored four original 20-foot decorative angels in New York. (courtesy Boston Valley Terra Cotta)

Boston Valley Terra Cotta restored four decorative angels from the 23rd floor of a Beaux Arts building in New York. (courtesy Boston Valley Terra Cotta)

Classically trained sculptors breath new life into four 20-foot angels with the help of Rhino.

When Old Structures Engineering engaged Boston Valley Terra Cotta in the restoration of the 1896 vintage Beaux-Arts building at 150 Nassau Street in New York—one of the city’s original steel frame structures—the four decorative angelic figures, or seraphs, that adorned the corners of the uppermost story were in serious decay. “Up close, they were in an appalling state,” said Andrew Evans, engineering project manager. “The biggest issue we had with the angels was understanding what happened with the originals.”

The seraphs were carved from stone by Spanish immigrant Ferdinand Miranda in 1895 and had suffered years of exposure and improper maintenance. By the time the facade was up for rehabilitation, the angels were haphazardly strapped to the building with steel bands and supported with bricks. Their state was such that repairs would not suffice and Boston Valley’s artisans began the task of recreating the 20-foot-tall Amazonian figures.

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The Cartesian Collection: A 17th Century Design Reboot

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Friday, June 28, 2013
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The Cartesian Collection by Alexander Purcell Rodrigues was fabricated from 1/2-inch thick aluminum by the Neal Feay Company. (courtesy Alexander Purcell Rodrigues)

The Cartesian Collection by Alexander Purcell Rodrigues was fabricated from 1/2-inch thick aluminum by the Neal Feay Company. (courtesy Alexander Purcell Rodrigues)

An ambitious designer used Rhino to design and fabricate 20 variations on a chair in four months.

For a designer aiming to streamline the gap between design and manufacturing, parametric modeling tools are a natural solution. LA-based Alexander Purcell Rodrigues found a place to work in just such a way at the Neal Feay Company (NF), a 60-year old fabrication studio in Santa Barbara, California, that is known for its exceptional metalworking. Together, the designer and the fabrication studio created the Cartesian Collection of chairs, aptly named for the analytic geometry that helped facilitate close to 20 design variations on the same aluminum frame in just under four months. “Not only were we pushing the boundaries of aluminum fabrication, the aim was to simultaneously create a lean manufacturing process,” said Rodrigues.

Using Rhino with a Grasshopper plugin, Rodrigues developed a design for a chair that weaves together the simplicity of Western design with the complex ornamentation of traditional Eastern aesthetics. While the lines of the chair are clean and smooth, intricate embellishments on the back traverse multiple planes and angles, all on a shrunken scale. The time savings involved in designing with Rhino allowed the creation of another 19 variations on the theme. Read More

In 3D-Printed Sugar

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Friday, June 21, 2013
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Liz and Kyle Von Hasseln have developed a method to 3D print edible sugar.

Liz and Kyle Von Hasseln have developed a method to 3D print edible sugar. (courtesy Sugar Lab)

A team of SCI-Arc–trained architects establish a sweet set up in Southern California.

Liz and Kyle Von Hasseln wanted to bake a birthday cake for a friend but, unfortunately, their rented apartment didn’t have an oven. Not to be deterred, the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) alumni hit upon a solution that would leave most bakers scratching their heads: They decided to 3D print one.

Earlier that year, the couple had been awarded the school’s inaugural Gehry Prize for their work on Phantom Geometry, a 5-axis fabrication study of UV-cured resin within a shallow vat system that responded to real-time feed back and feed-forward mechanisms. “In our graduate work, we were really interested in the way free form fabrication would influence architecture,” Kyle recently told AN. “We thought a lot about the potential for the intersection of culture and technology that would be accessible to the public, so printing sugar was that.” Read More

Sliced Benches at Harvard Great for Loafing

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Friday, June 14, 2013
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Stoss Landscape Urbanism designed 17 unique, wooden benches for a new plaza at Harvard University. (courtesy Stoss Landscape Urbanism)

Stoss Landscape Urbanism designed 17 unique, wooden benches for a new plaza at Harvard University. (courtesy Stoss Landscape Urbanism)

Seven design variations are applied across 17 custom wooden benches, fabricated by Mark Richey Woodworking.

Sited above a vehicular tunnel and therefore bereft of old growth trees, the Plaza at Harvard University, with its aggregate porcelain paving and curvaceous, sculptural benches, stands in stark visual contrast to the school’s notably shady yard and north campus. Designed by Stoss Landscape Urbanism, the plaza serves as a multi-functional space for staff, students, and the local community. A large part of accomplishing this goal fell to the unique seating solution, a collection of custom-designed, wooden slat benches that aim to increase the function and user comfort of the public space. Some of the benches are meant for lounging with no back and a low seat height, while others are higher with full seat backs. Some twist in the manner of a Victorian tete-a-tete settee, while still others support a touchdown working posture.

Stoss’s design for the benches, sliced like a loaf of bread, was achieved in Rhino with a Grasshopper plugin. The parametric modeling tool was instrumental in defining the benches’ complex geometries. “At every change, the curves meet two general sections so there’s a morphology of that form work,” said Erik Prince, an associate at Stoss who worked on the plaza. “The wooden slats are an incremental radial splay of the overall geometry so every rib has a unique angle to it.” The design team produced a 3D model for each of the 17 benches. Since the benches were manufactured based on information contained in the digital files, a substantial portion of time was spent developing accurate models that could be extrapolated for the fabrication process. Read More

A Plus Design for Elevator B Hive

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Friday, June 7, 2013
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Elevator B by students of the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of Buffalo, located in Buffalo's First Ward (Hive City Design Team)

Elevator B by students of the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of Buffalo, located in Buffalo’s First Ward (Hive City Design Team)

The 22-foot Elevator B honeybee habitat was the winning proposal in a design competition sponsored by Rigidized Metals and the University
at Buffalo.

The disquieting phenomenon of colony collapse disorder is seeing global bee populations vanish before our eyes, threatening the pollination of much of the world’s food crops. So when Buffalo, New York, metal fabricator Rigidized Metals discovered a colony of bees in an abandoned grain silo that its owner purchased, the company sponsored the Hive City competition. Students at the University at Buffalo (UB) were invited to design a viable bee habitat that would spark interest in the Silo City area and demonstrate the strengths of various building materials suppliers in Buffalo’s First Ward. As the first, permanent new construction on the Silo City site, Rigidized Metals wanted something that would be visible from nearby Ohio Street, stand out in the industrial landscape, and be reverent to neighboring silos.

The winning design, known as Elevator B, is a 22-foot tower of 18-gauge sheet metal panels, with strategic perforations for natural ventilation, light, and heat management. An operable bee “cab” in the interior supports the actual hive on a pulley system, allowing beekeepers to access the colony and return it to a level that keeps the population safe from predators. Read More

MammaFotogramma Brings Motion to Plywood

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Friday, May 31, 2013
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The concept for WoodSkin was first developed for Autoprogettazione 2.0, an open-source design competition, in 2012. (courtesy Mamma Fotogramma)

The concept for WoodSkin was developed for Autoprogettazione 2.0, an open-source design competition, in 2012. (courtesy MammaFotogramma)

MammaFotogramma designed a plywood and high-performance mesh composite that is scored on a CNC mill to facilitate textile-like movement.

WoodSkin is a flexible wood surfacing material developed by interdisciplinary design studio MammaFotogramma. The concept is an exploration of movement developed for Autoprogettazione 2.0, an open-source design competition from 2012 that originated in the firm’s work in stop motion animation. “We’re still in animation production, but what we do is all about movement,” said studio founder Giulio Masotti. MammaFotogramma’s current work includes architecture and design projects as well as a lab that evolved naturally as projects came in, where collaborators develop new techniques for hybridized exploration. “Project after project, we saw we were applying movement everywhere, not because it was a need but because it’s how we work and what we explore,” said Masotti.

Later in 2012, after the competition, the composite wood material was first fabricated as an interior finish for the lobby of Allez Up, an indoor rock-climbing facility in Montreal. “When we figured out what we wanted to do, we knew we needed something different,” said Masotti. “We needed a system, not just a project solution.” The goal was to design a visually appealing material that could be used in a static way with the possibility for movement. Read More

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