Tomás Saraceno’s Cloud City

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Friday, May 18, 2012
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One of 16 steel and acrylic modules is hoisted by crane to the Met's rooftop (Tomás Saraceno)

The artist’s first major U.S. commission lands at the Met

On Monday, the Metropolitan Museum of Art held a preview of the latest installation to take root in its Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden. Designed by Tomás Saraceno, the installation is the largest of the artist’s Cloud Cities/Airport Cities series, and his first major commission in the United States. Under overcast skies and a sprinkling of rain, the installation’s first visitors—or at least those wearing rubber-soled shoes—clamored through its 16 interconnected modules. Some paused to sit or lie in the structure’s uppermost areas, while others were content to view the constellation of mirrored acrylic forms and nylon webs from the ground. The experience of boarding the structure is disorienting, and the piece gives visitors the impression that it would float away from the rooftop and over Central Park if not tethered to the Met by steel cables.

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Fabricating New Solar Skins

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Friday, May 11, 2012
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A rendering of Martin Ferrero's new BIPV concept

Research into flexible active skins opens up new BIPV possibilities

As building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) technology becomes more advanced, architects are getting involved in how new systems affect not only a building’s performance, but also its appearance. “The photovoltaic industry was until now largely developed by engineers,” said Daniel Martín Ferrero, a Madrid-based architect researching solar design. “The architect must enter the industry to develop their integration into the urban scene.” Ferrero has launched a new company named The New Solar Architecture with a goal of bringing a higher level of design to solar energy-producing facades.

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HygroScope: Meteorosensitive Morphology

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Friday, May 4, 2012
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HygroScope: Meteorosensitive Morphology

New climate-responsive architecture research makes structure the machine

A new project commissioned by the Centre Pompidou for its permanent collection explores responsive architecture based on the behavior of material during climate changes. Designed by architect Achim Menges in collaboration with Steffen Reichert, “HygroScope: Meteorosensitive Morphology” appears at first glance to be a wooden model suspended within a glass case. But when the humidity level within the case rises, the system begins to breathe, ventilating the moisture-saturated air without any sensory equipment or electricity.

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Npsag’s Grass-To-Grid Installation

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Friday, April 27, 2012
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The installation at night under blacklights (Npsag)

A wayfinding beacon for New Orleans’ electronic music festival

With a successful debut last month at Mardi Gras World in New Orleans last, the electronic music festival Buku Music and Art Project could become a mainstay of city’s lineup destination events. Envisioning what a success the event would be, Tulane architecture professors Nathan Petty and Sheena A. Garcia jumped at the opportunity to create a temporary installation for the event site at the edge of the Mississippi River. Petty and Garcia founded their design office, Npsag, in 2008 to work with radical architectural forms and emerging technology. While much of their work is speculative, the Buku installation had the practical purpose of being a wayfinding device at the event’s main entrance.

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Harvey Mudd College BubbleDeck Construction

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Friday, April 20, 2012
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Bubble deck installation (Boora Architects)

New learning center gives an in-progress look at lightweight structural design

Construction is underway on the first academic facility in almost two decades to be built on the Claremont, California, campus of Harvey Mudd College. Designed in 1956 by Edward Durrell Stone, the 39-acre school is a private engineering, science, and math institution, which is planning for growth in the coming decade.

“A lot of their current classrooms are underground so they were literally wanting to bring these into the light,” said Amy Donohue, a principal at Boora Architects. The Portland-based firm has designed a new 70,000-square-foot Teaching and Learning Center to create a bridge between academic facilities located to the west and dorms to the east. Though the design emphasizes transparency, energy efficiency, and a range of academic and social functions, a unique bi-axial hollow slab structural system concealed in the building’s concrete will have one of the greatest impacts on reducing material use as it targets LEED Platinum certification.

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Taylor Family Digital Library Sunscreen

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Friday, April 13, 2012
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The self-tensioning system has 52 percent open area (Cambridge)

LEED Gold-certified building protects old documents with a modern mesh design

The new Taylor Family Digital Library houses some of the University of Calgary’s prized documents—more than 800,000 architectural drawings, one million maps and aerial photographs, and thousands of print monographs are among the nine million items in the collection. The university built the library as part of its mission to become one of Canada’s top five research libraries by 2016, the year of its 50th anniversary. But the library also serves the practical goal of protecting the special documents and art collections that were relocated there from other facilities. To that end, architect Kasian Architecture Interior Design and Planning envisioned the 265,000-square-foot building enshrouded in a veil of mesh that would provide solar protection while creating a semi-transparent facade and day-lit interiors to be enjoyed by students and community members.

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Gehry Technologies Discusses Burj Khalifa Ceiling

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Friday, April 6, 2012
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The completed ceiling (SOM)

Members of the Gehry Technologies New York office outline a collaboration that spanned between four U.S. cities and Dubai

Editor’s Note: The following has been excerpted from Knowledge Engineering: The Capture and Reuse of Design and Fabrication Intelligence on the Burj Khalifa Office Ceiling by Neil Meredith and James Kotronis of Gehry Technologies:

Behind schedule and with the finish date of the building fast approaching, Gehry Technologies was presented with a unique problem. A complex, double-curved wood ceiling for one of the main entrances to the Burj Khalifa (then Burj Dubai) was under construction and it was becoming apparent that the proposed system would not work as designed. Instead of delaying the schedule or scrapping the design, an integrated team was quickly mobilized. This team was based in different design and fabrication domains, with all participants working toward the shared goals of redesign, fabrication, delivery, and installation of the new ceiling, all within a tight timeframe and construction site. Partners included Skidmore Owings and Merrill (SOM), Imperial Woodworking Company (IWA), ICON Integrated Construction and Gehry Technologies/New York (GT). Working through the design issues, the new team developed a strategy to strip the design back down to essential geometry and redesign the system from the ground up, satisfying design intent and a host of fabrication and constructability constraints through a shared parametric model.

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Shift_Design’s Philly Shake Shack Green Wall

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Friday, March 30, 2012
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Ivy climbs custom steel panels that conceal the food stand's construction site (Shift_Design)

A temporary installation spruces up the burger stand’s site ahead of its summer opening

Two years ago, Mario Gentile founded Phildelphia-based Shift_Design after being laid off from Peter Marino Architects. With an infant son in tow, he began to design and manufacture a range of systems for outdoor garden environments. The company was part of the GoodCompany incubation program for socially responsible products and will complete a green roof, living wall, and rainwater harvesting system at the Urban Outfitters headquarters at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in September. They are also working with Philadelphia’s Water Department to design new stormwater-collecting planters. Though functional and environmentally minded, the group’s work has a lighthearted appeal for urban environments—something that’s apparent in its newly completed installation at the construction site of Danny Meyer’s first Philadelphia Shake Shack, scheduled to open this summer.

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Design Looks Up with Bluarch’s Cloud Installation

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Friday, March 23, 2012
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The ceiling-mounted installation in made of 144,000 poplar pieces assembled by hand (Bluarch)

A geometric ceiling installation creates an organic, light-diffusing shape in a new Port Washington restaurant

New York-based architecture and interiors firm Bluarch has become known for innovative designs that have people looking up. The group has created ceiling installations for residences, restaurants, and retail locations across the world. One of their latest projects is close to home, at Innuendo restaurant and bar in Port Washington. Located on Main Street, the restaurant’s seamless storefront reveals a cloudlike ceiling installation with integrated lighting designed to create an ever-changing atmosphere.

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Infrared’s Madren 5340 Installation

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Friday, March 16, 2012
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The completed installation controls light and opacity between two sides of a room (Infrared)

Temporary structure uses paper to create light-regulating filter

Infrared is a group of architectural researchers and fabricators based in Thessaloniki, Greece. Initiated in 2010, the group’s work has included public installations like the Thess Bic Seat, an amorphously shaped bicycle rack and bench. Another piece called 313 / 315 is a 25-foot-long seesaw installed between two rooms of a derelict hotel created for last year’s XV Biennale De La Mediterranee. For its most recent installation, titled Madren 5340, the team investigated the theme of private space with a digitally modeled screen made with a series of paper tubes.

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KPMB’s Ductal facade in Toronto

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Friday, March 9, 2012
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The Rotman School of Management under construction (KPMB/Tom Arban)

Rotman School makes the most of high-performance concrete and glass

The University of Toronto Rotman School of Management’s nearly $100 million expansion project will more than double the size of the business school. A new 161,000-square-foot building designed by Toronto-based KPMB Architects mediates between its neighbors—a historic 19th century brick home on one side and the towering Brutalist Robarts Library on the other—while maintaining views to the medieval Oxbridge-style Massey College to the east. The architect’s solution to the architectural mixture is an elevated box made with floor-to-ceiling glazing punctuated by slivers of Ductal, a patented ultra-high performance concrete made by Lafarge.

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Bill Kreysler’s Digitally Fabricated Aquarium Liner

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Friday, March 2, 2012
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Installers finished their work from floating platforms (Monterey Bay Aquarium)

California’s Monterey Bay Aquarium updates its million-gallon Open Sea exhibit

Located on the former site of a sardine cannery overlooking the Pacific, the Monterey Bay Aquarium pumps 2,000 gallons of seawater into its more than 100 exhibit tanks every minute. When its Outer Bay exhibit opened in 1996, it had the world’s largest single-pane window, measuring 56 feet long and 17 feet high. But turbulence created by the sea creatures inside unexpectedly damaged the aquarium’s liner, which flexed and loosened the grout that held its blue glass tiles in place. Large, fast-swimming tunas housed in the tank also caused damage by occasionally colliding with the lining. In 2010 the aquarium hired architectural composite consultant and fabricator Bill Kreysler, founder of Kreysler & Associates (K&A), to create a new Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) liner for the exhibit, which recently reopened as the Open Sea galleries.

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