Martha Schwartz’ Hillside Mountain Range

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Fengming Mountain Park features a series of metal pavilions imagined as abstracted mountains. (Terrence Zhang)

Fengming Mountain Park features a series of metal pavilions imagined as abstracted mountains. (Terrence Zhang)

Illuminated steel pavilions mimic Chinese peaks.

The hillside site of Fengming Mountain Park, in Chongqing, China, presented Martha Schwartz Partners with both a practical challenge and a source of inspiration. Asked by Chinese developer Vanke to design a park adjacent to the sales office for a new housing development, the landscape architecture and urban planning firm quickly gravitated toward the metaphor of a mountain journey. “That’s why in the plans you see a zig zag pattern” to the path leading down to the sales center from the car park, said associate Ignacio López Busón. Steel pavilions scattered along the walkway pick up on the theme, taking the form of abstracted mountain peaks. “That’s something the client really liked,” said López Busón. “Once the idea was clear, it was all about developing the shape of them, and trying to make them look special.”
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Urbana’s Shape-Shifting Parking Garage Facade

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Urbana Studio designed an interactive aluminum facade for an existing parking structure at Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis. (Serge Hoeltschi)

Urbana Studio designed an interactive aluminum facade for an existing parking structure at Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis. (Serge Hoeltschi)

Folded aluminum panels deliver the illusion of movement to passersby.

During their recent expansion, Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis approached Urbana Studio with an unusual request. The hospital wanted the Los Angeles-based art and architecture firm to design an interactive facade for a recently completed parking structure. “With Indianapolis’ really extreme weather patterns, we gave a lot of thought to: how can we make something that’s interactive but won’t be broken in a year?” said Urbana principal Rob Ley. “Unfortunately, the history of kinetic facades teaches us that that they can become a maintenance nightmare.” Urbana’s solution was to turn the relationship between movement and the object on its head. Though the aluminum facade, titled May September, is itself static, it appears to morph and change color as the viewer walks or drives by.
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IIT Students Explore the Potential of Carbon Fiber

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Undergraduates at IIT designed, funded, and fabricated FIBERwave PAVILION during the spring semester. (Courtesy Alphonso Peluso)

Undergraduates at IIT designed, funded, and fabricated FIBERwave PAVILION during the spring semester. (Courtesy Alphonso Peluso)

Composite materials are on display in the undergraduate-built FIBERwave PAVILION.

Carbon fiber’s unique properties would seem to make it an ideal building product. Untreated, carbon fiber cloth is flexible and easy to cut. After an epoxy cure, it is as hard as steel. But while the automobile and aerospace industries have made widespread use of the material, it has gone virtually untouched by the architectural profession. Alphonso Peluso and his undergraduate students at the IIT College of Architecture set out to change that with their FIBERwave PAVILION, a parametric, sea life-inspired installation built entirely of carbon fiber. “We want to make the studio an expert resource for people trying to get into carbon fiber in terms of architecture,” said Peluso, whose students designed, funded, and built the pavilion this spring. “There’s a studio in Germany that’s in their second year of working with carbon fiber, but I don’t think anyone in the United States is working with it.” Read More

LMN Architects Materialize a Metaphor in Cleveland

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Wrapped in textured precast concrete, LMN Architects' Global Center for Health Innovation is a high-tech addition to Cleveland's civic core. (Ed LaCasse, LaCasse Photography)

Wrapped in textured precast concrete, LMN Architects’ Global Center for Health Innovation is a high-tech addition to Cleveland’s civic core. (Ed LaCasse, LaCasse Photography)

A digitally-designed medical products showroom plays well with its City Beautiful neighbors.

The Global Center for Health Innovation, designed by LMN Architects along with the attached Cleveland Convention Center, is more than a showroom for medical products and services. Located adjacent to the Burnham Malls, the open space at the heart of Daniel Burnham’s Group Plan of 1903, the building is part of Cleveland’s civic core. “One of the things about the Global Center is that it has a unique expression and in particular the facade treatment,” said design partner Mark Reddington. “But it’s also a really integrated piece of a bigger idea and a bigger composition.” A dynamic combination of textured concrete panels and irregular slashes of glazing, the Global Center’s facade, which won honorable mention in AN’s 2014 Best of Design Awards, deftly negotiates the gap between the building’s historic context and its function as a high-tech marketplace. Read More

UT Student Installation Takes SXSW

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Undergraduates at UT designed Caret 6 as a backdrop for TEX-FAB's annual competition exhibition. (Casey Dunn)

Undergraduates at UT designed Caret 6 as a backdrop for TEX-FAB’s annual competition exhibition. (Casey Dunn)

A room-filling parametric design makes its way from the classroom to Austin’s famous music festival.

When Kory Bieg and his students at The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture began working on Caret 6, they had no idea that it would wind up at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) music and arts festival. But the rippling, room-filling installation soon took on a life of its own. Within months, Bieg’s undergraduates—who had little previous exposure to digital design—had designed and fabricated Caret 6, and assembled and disassembled it twice, first at the TEX-FAB SKIN: Digital Assemblies Symposium in February, and then at Austin’s most famous annual gathering in March. Read More

After Record-Breaking Concrete Pour in Los Angeles, Wilshire Grand Reaches for the Sky

THE $1.1 BILLION WILSHIRE GRAND IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION IN DOWNTOWN LA (AC MARTIN)

THE $1.1 BILLION WILSHIRE GRAND IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION IN DOWNTOWN LA (AC MARTIN)

The Wilshire Grand, a 73-story tower under construction in downtown Los Angeles, hasn’t yet risen out of the ground, but it’s already in the Guinness Book of World Records. That’s thanks to a February 15–16 event promoters called the Grand Pour, in which construction crews poured 21,200 cubic yards (82 million pounds) of concrete in 18 hours—the largest continuous concrete pour in history.

Why all the fuss?

Public’s Tree-Like Transit Shelters for UBC

Fabrikator, West
Friday, February 21, 2014
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THE TRANSIT SHELTER'S DESIGN WAS INSPIRED BY THE TREES LINING UNIVERSITY BOULEVARD (PUBLIC: ARCHITECTURE + COMMUNICATION)

THE TRANSIT SHELTER’S DESIGN WAS INSPIRED BY THE TREES LINING UNIVERSITY BOULEVARD (PUBLIC: ARCHITECTURE + COMMUNICATION)

An abstracted version of a street tree, a canopy of tessellated irregular polygons balances atop slim steel posts.

When Public: Architecture + Communication visited the site of the transit shelters the University of British Columbia had asked them to design, they found that something was missing. The main point of entry to the campus, University Boulevard is lined with trees—except where the bus shelters would go. “There was this language of gaps that we noticed,” said Public’s Christopher Sklar. The shelters themselves, they decided, should fill in the tree line. The designers were left with a question, articulated by Sklar: “How does it be a quiet piece but also something interesting and unusual that relates to its surroundings?”

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Among the Sequoias, a 3D-Printed Refuge by Smith|Allen

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Friday, February 14, 2014
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ECHOVIREN IS THE WORLD'S FIRST FULL-SCALE 3D PRINTED ARCHITECTURAL INSTALLATION (SMITH|ALLEN)

ECHOVIREN IS THE WORLD’S FIRST FULL-SCALE 3D PRINTED ARCHITECTURAL INSTALLATION (SMITH|ALLEN)

Smith|Allen’s 3D-printed forest refuge is inspired by the site’s patterning and historical cycle of deforestation and regeneration.

When Brian Allen and Stephanie Smith first visited the sequoia forest in Gualala, California, they saw patterns everywhere. “We were really intrigued by patterning at many scales, from bark on the trees to light through the trees and also, at a micro scale, [the cells of] the sequioas,” said Allen. Two months later the pair was back, this time with 580 sculptural bricks forming the world’s first 3D-printed architectural installation. Translucent white and 10 by 10 by 8 feet in size, Echoviren resembles a cross between a teepee and a tree stump, a mass made light by the organic porosity of the bricks.

Echoviren is intimately tied to its site on the grounds of Project 387, the residency in which Smith|Allen participated last fall. Besides the sequioas’ patterning, the designers drew inspiration from the primitiveness of their surroundings. “The overall form was driven by what is the most basic space we could make,” said Allen. “It turns [out to be] just a small oblong enclosure with an oculus, a small forest hermitage.” The oculus draws the eye up, to the natural roof formed by the sequioas’ branches. In addition, Smith|Allen address the history of the site as a place where regrowth followed the trauma of deforestation. Built of bio-plastic, Echoviren has an estimated lifespan of 30-50 years. “The 50 year decomposition is a beautiful echo of that cycle” of deforestation and resurgence, said Allen.

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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

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

Facades+PERFORMANCE> Enroll and Learn About Performance Patterning & Envelope Design

Midwest, National
Thursday, October 17, 2013
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(FACADES PERFORMANCE CHICAGO / COURTESY FACADES PLUS)

To kick off AN and Enclos premiere conference, Facades + PERFORMANCE Chicago, Ronnie Parsons of Mode Lab will lead a technology workshop revolving around the concepts and mechanisms for creating performance-based parametric envelope systems using Grasshopper for Rhino5. Parsons is the founding partner of Mode Lab, a design consultancy focused on the development of products and environments for institutional and private clients.

The class will cover the skills necessary for architects and designers to work with the latest analysis technologies that are transforming the ways in which they perform in their professional practice. Workshop attendees will acquire knowledge about parametric design within the building industry, will learn about concept development using parametric tools, and will be taught about the use of data as design parameter.

Upon completion of the class, participants will receive a complimentary one-month subscription of Mode Lab. Don’t miss your chance to attend the numerous workshops, panels, and symposia hosted by Facades + Technology Workshops in Chicago. Enroll now!

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