Posts tagged with "Concrete":

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The Naturalis Biodiversity Center boldly stands out with red travertine and concrete

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The Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, the Netherlands, houses one of the world's largest collections of zoological specimens and geological samples—counting over half-a-million for the latter. Beginning in 2015, Rotterdam-based architectural practice Neutelings Riedijk Architects led a significant expansion of the facility to accommodate the merger of the Zoological Museum and National Herbarium into the Biodiversity Center. The 215,000-square-foot expansion consists of two distinct volumes; a set of four staggered rectangular masonry blocks, and a soaring 120-foot-tall atrium of prefabricated concrete panels and ellipse-shaped windows that encloses a monumental stairwell rising to each floor of the expansion.
  • Facade Manufacturer Bakker Natuursteen Hibex St. Gobain Schueco
  • Architect Neutelings Riedijk Architecten
  • Facade Installer Bakker Natuursteen J.P. van Eesteren
  • Facade Consultant Aronsohn J.P. van Eesteren Abt Hibex
  • Location Leiden, Netherlands
  • Date of Completion October 2019
  • System Schueco FW60+ Schueco FWS50
  • Products Red Persian Travertine Concrete with marble aggregate
To the design team, stone proved to be the clear material choice for a museum dedicated to natural minerals, the final result is intended to resemble stacked geological layers. The stone is Red Persian Travertine, sourced from Iran by supplier Bakker Natuursteen, carved into rough blocks of ashlar at their Portuguese factory, and arranged on-site in a stretcher bond format. There are two standard dimensions for the stone blocks; approximately three-and-a-half by one-and-a-half feet and three-by-one feet. They are held in place by a facade system custom-fabricated by Bakker Natuursteen. To break up the imposing mass of the stone facade, the architectural team collaborated with fashion designer Iris van Herpen to develop a sinuous frieze of 263 panels molded from concrete and fine white marble aggregate. The four custom-designed friezes are located towards the cornice of each rectangular block and are ringed by narrow bands of flat-surfaced concrete and marble aggregate. Van Herpen interpreted the abstract forms into a series of drawings in the same vein as her body of work, with a draping design echoing the theme of geological strata, forming an abstract impression of fossilized archeological shapes. This effect was achieved by first translating van Herpen's original 2D drawings into 3D-files and translating grey shading to physical depth. After that, the 3D-file was uploaded to a CNC-milling machine. "The CNC machine milled the negative of the design of the 3D high relief out of the molding material," said the design team. "Finally the concrete was poured into these molds and the concrete elements were mounted on the structural walls on-site by means of specially developed stainless steel anchors." The facade treatment of stepped stone and concrete-and-marble continues on the southern elevation where it is enclosed by the cuboid atrium, which also bridges the expansion to the preexisting campus. The prefabricated white concrete panels of the atrium range in thickness from approximately one-to-two feet, and are hoisted onto a steel structural system separate from the body of masonry. Within the atrium, the outward boldness of the prefabricated panels is softened with a lightly detailed oak dressing.    
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Seattle’s Brutalist Freeway Park is reviewed for National Register and approved for renovation

The gorgeously staggered concrete elements of Jim Ellis Freeway Park, one of the most significant architectural spaces in Seattle, are scattered across a thickly forested hill atop an intersection of Interstate 5 between the neighborhoods of Downtown Seattle and First Hill. Completed in 1976 by American landscape architect Lawrence Halprin and Bulgarian architect Angela Danadjieva, the 5.2-acre Freeway Park is one of only a small handful of Brutalist-designed parks in the world and is a commendable example of how parkland can be used to bridge communities that were previously divided by highway infrastructure.

Given its significance to the field of landscape architecture and the urban history of Seattle, Freeway Park was recently nominated for the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The nomination was submitted shortly after a $10 million capital improvement project was announced to restore Freeway Park as part of an agreement made with the expansion of the nearby Convention Center. A total of $9,250,000 of the funds will be used for much-needed repairs and restoration, while the remaining $750,000 will go towards the further activation of the park as part of its management by the Freeway Park Association, a non-profit organization founded in 1993 to advocate and host events in the park.

A portion of the funds may go towards reintroducing the water feature to the park, which was discontinued in 1992 following an issue with water loss that was present since its construction. The renovation process is expected to begin next summer and be completed by December 2021.

The nomination was reviewed on October 25 by the Washington State Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and it was subsequently placed on the Washington Heritage Register in a unanimous vote. Its placement on the NRHP is still yet to be announced.

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Skanska rolls out a new tool to evaluate embodied carbon

Construction remains one of the most carbon-intensive industries, with materials often contributing significantly to the final project's total pollution (concrete production, for example, is responsible for 8% of global carbon emissions). A report from the Carbon Leadership Forum, a network of academics and industry professionals hosted at the University of Washington to focus on reducing embodied carbon, suggests that as the population grows, the equivalent of one New York City in additional floor space will be built every month around the world. That's as much as two trillion square feet of new building, or significant renovations, happening over the next 32 years, according to the nonprofit Architecture 2030. While many environmentally concerned architects and builders focus on operational impacts—certainly a significant contributor to climate change—others have emphasized a concomitant need to focus on the embodied carbon, emissions that result from construction and from creating and transporting materials themselves. A signatory of the Paris Climate Accord, the construction giant Skanska is the latest AEC company to enter the fray of carbon-reduction solutions with an open-source tool called the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3), developed in collaboration with C Change Labs and incubated at with funding from Skanska and Microsoft. Current tools and assessments center on these lifecycle impact and operational efficiencies of buildings, however, embodied carbon can account for around half of a building’s emissions impact over its average lifespan. “It may not matter how efficiently we operate our buildings over time if we don’t immediately address the carbon embodied in what and how we build,” Skanska USA chief sustainability officer, Beth Heider, FAIA, explained in a release. The hope with EC3 is that those in the AEC industry can better understand their impact in order to reduce it. “Until now, the building industry has not had a way to assess our supply chain through the lens of their carbon impact,” said Stacy Smedley, regional director of sustainability for Skanska’s building operations based in Seattle, whose benchmarking research was foundational to the project. Currently in a limited pilot, EC3 is an open-source database of over 16,000 materials, searchable by performance requirements, design specifications, project location, and global warming potential—all based on environmental product declaration data. The hope is that stakeholders in the building process, such as designers, developers, and contractors, can better understand the potential carbon impact of their projects. Skanska reports that current participating projects are seeing carbon reductions upwards of 30 percent with little to no difference in cost. EC3 will be publicly released on November 19.
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MILLIØNS explores the future of hempcrete in the United States

Last May, Zeina Koreitem and John May of the experimental Los Angeles architectural practice MILLIØNS conducted a weeklong workshop for Space Saloon, a “community in residence” design-build festival in Morongo Valley, California. While the small-scale structure they oversaw in the desert landscape was novel in form, spatial sequencing, and coloration, its most stunning aspect was perhaps the fact that it was primarily built with hempcrete, a material virtually nonexistent in the American construction industry. Currently, both the production and application of concrete is woefully unsustainable. As the world’s most common building material, the production of the ancient compound requires a tenth of the world’s industrial water production and produces 2.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually. Once a concrete building is completed, its exterior envelopes absorbs and retains the sun’s heat, contributing to rising temperatures in urban areas (known as the heat island effect). If the biggest global cities, including those in India and China, continue to rely on concrete to meet the demands of their increasing populations, an additional 470 additional gigatons of carbon dioxide will be released into the atmosphere by 2050, according to the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. All of that's before even taking into account the material's deadly human cost of production. First developed in France in the 1980s, hempcrete appears to be a miracle material in contrast to its traditional cousin, beginning with how it's produced. Not only do the hemp fields from which it originates absorb airborne carbon while they grow, but the crops continue to absorb greenhouse gases after they are harvested and transformed into building materials—287 pounds of airborne carbon dioxide are estimated to be captured by one cubic meter (35 cubic feet) of hempcrete, while a half-ton is emitted into the atmosphere by each ton of cement, according to the European Cement Association. Hempcrete is also up to eight times lighter than concrete, meaning it takes significantly less energy to transport, minimizing its carbon footprint even further. When the inner woody core of hemp plants, known as hemp hurds, is mixed with lime or clay as a binding agent, the fibrous consistency of hempcrete has demonstrated better ventilation, fire resistance, and temperature regulation properties than its predecessor. Although the material doesn't offer the same load-bearing capabilities of traditional concrete, developers throughout Europe have made great efforts to test its limits and have so far produced buildings as high as ten stories (which could, of course, be improved with increased research and application). Despite all of the apparent benefits of hempcrete, the North American construction industry is only beginning to take note. Following the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp's cultivation under certain conditions, there are only about 50 homes throughout the U.S. built at least partially with hemp, while the practice has become relatively common in Canada and Europe. As marijuana production becomes a more regulated industry, and hopefully the production of hempcrete and other hemp materials could become the building blocks of America’s future as the material becomes less stigmatized.
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Can flatpack refugee housing be safer, faster, and more durable?

While refugee camps are generally designed to be temporary, they often end up staying up for many years and become full, functioning cities in their own right, housing generations of people—Dheisheh camp, in Palestine, for example has been continuously occupied since 1949. However, because the materials they are built with—often just tents or tarps over metal frames—are generally intended for quick deployment and a limited lifespan, it is becoming just one of many problematic facets of housing displaced peoples. Cutwork, an architecture and design studio based in Paris and Amsterdam, has developed a concept for quick-to-build, affordable, and durable refugee shelters that can be set up by just two people. Working with the building materials company Cortex Composites, they’ve created plans for homes that can be assembled by two people in just 24 hours. Cortex, which is classified as a Geosynthetic Cementitious Composite Mat, is a concrete-impregnated textile that can be shipped flat and simply rolled out and hardened with the addition of water, no additional equipment or specialized construction experience necessary. The half-inch-thick shell then hardens within a day and, the company claims, can last for as long as 30 years with compressive strength twice that of average concrete all while being as much as 90 percent less carbon-intensive. Cutwork’s design for the Cortex Shelter would roll these concrete textiles over bendable metal-tube frames. Washable insulation panels would be added to the shelter’s interior and the design has high windows that allow both natural light and privacy. Cutwork also imagines solar panels being placed on the roof to generate electricity, and, in theory, should there be the infrastructure to support them, there would be ample space for kitchens and bathrooms. While the Cortex Shelter is designed to be a repeatable home, the firm also imagines that in supporting the urbanization of refugee communities, schools, shops, other structures could be built with the same technology. Cutwork suggests that Cortex could be used to build permanent schools, shops, and even a sports stadium. While they admit urbanizing refugee settlements is not the ideal solution to this global crisis, the company believes that it can be one tool among many in making safer, more sustainable, and pleasant lives for the tens of millions of global refugees.
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SOM shows off the sustainable potentials of robotic fabrication

For the Chicago Architecture Biennial opening on September 19, SOM debuted a concrete pavilion called Stereoform Slab to showcase the latest in material and manufacturing technology. As much as 60 percent of a building’s carbon footprint can result from the creation of concrete slabs, according to SOM. By developing new fabrication methods and integrating robotic construction, the firm reported that a 20 percent reduction in material use and waste equaled an equal reduction in carbon output. The fluid form of Stereoform Slab, designed as a full-scale abstraction of the single-story concrete bays you might find in a high-rise, was built in partnership with McHugh Construction, the developer Sterling Bay, Denmark-based Odico Construction Robotics, and Autodesk. Using robots, Odico fabricated EPS foam molds which were shipped from Odense, Denmark, to the U.S. “The shape is formed of a specific, but simple class of geometry—the ruled surface,” the interdisciplinary research team behind the project at SOM said in an email. “This formal constraint is derived from the nature of the fabrication method itself, a hot-wire spanning an eight feet width at the end of a seven-axis robotic arm.” While one might have seen this "constraint" as just that, a restriction, the designers said they saw it as a way of offering “geometric freedom,” and also enjoyed the high fabrication speed. While new technology has allowed for designers to conceive of “more sustainable and expressive structures,” the resulting complexity often makes them hard to realize with conventional construction techniques. “The impetus for Stereoform Slab, however, was to prove that emerging approaches to fabrication using advanced robotics could help close this gap, and that this type of formwork could augment more conventional concrete forming systems without adding additional cost to construction,” the SOM team explained. Odico used a proprietary technology called robotic abrasive wire cutting, which allows for the rapid creation of polystyrene formworks—reportedly at up to 126 times the speed of traditional methods. “Because of this advantage, formworks can be produced at very low cost compared to conventional timber formwork molds," said Asbjørn Søndergaard, chief technology officer of Odico, "which is the critical enabler for realizing more advanced, structural designs that save material through more intelligent use of material." SOM isn’t doing away with the human hand entirely, and they said that “This type of advanced fabrication is about augmenting human labor in order to expand design freedom and the potential to actually build what we can imagine and create with more advanced digital design methodologies” Though certainly smaller than a tower, working closely with the robotic manufacturers and with a firm, McHugh Construction, that focuses on high rises means that the Stereoform Slab has more in common with a construction prototype than a pavilion. The Stereoform Slab will be up until January 5th, along with a bench produced by the same process at the Chicago Athletic Association.
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Studio Gang's first residential tower in New York ripples with scalloped concrete

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Since rezoning under the tenure of Michael Bloomberg, Downtown Brooklyn has undergone a tremendous transformation from a relatively low-slung commercial district to a burgeoning neighborhood defined by row upon row of residential towers. 11 Hoyt, located on the southern boundary of the district, is another addition to the area set to be completed in 2020. The tower, developed by Tishman Speyer, is Studio Gang's first residential project in New York City and breaks from the fairly lackluster design typology of the area with a unitized curtainwall of scalloped precast concrete panels. The 770,000-square-foot project rises to a height of over 600 feet and is tucked in midblock—the tower will be ringed by a street-wall podium which is in turn topped by a private park.
  • Facade Manufacturer BPDL Guardian Glass Stahlbau Pichler Metra
  • Architect Studio Gang Hill West Architects (Architect-of-Record)
  • Facade Installer Midwest Steel Enterprise Architectural Sales
  • Facade Consultant Gilsanz Murray Steficek
  • Location Brooklyn, New York
  • Date of Completion 2020
  • System Custom Metra system, Custom Stahlbau Pichler window system
  • Products BPDL precast concrete panels Guardian Glass SunGuard® Neutral 50/32
The approximately 1155 precast concrete panels were produced by Canadian manufacturer Bétons Préfabriqués Du Lac (BPDL), and measure just under twelve feet in both height and width. The panels are composed of white concrete with a thin veneer of light grey calcite. They are arranged in seven sweeping undulations along the east and west elevations, and three to the narrower north and south elevations, creating diagonal strands of bay windows that protrude from the otherwise flush curtainwall. According to Studio Gang senior project leader Arthur Liu, "the design process and digital design tools helped create a small number of discrete facade elements arranged in a way that offered variation and flexibility to the design of the facade while simultaneously aligning with interior spaces and respecting the limits of constructability." The custom aluminum window systems fabricated by Stahibau Pichler were, for the most part, installed by BPDL into the precast while at the factory. In total, over 110,000-square-feet of glass, produced by Guardian Glass and cut by Tvitec, was used for the project. Prior to the construction of the park-topped podium, the multi-lot space has served as a staging ground for the installation of the oversized panels. The panels are split into two categories; the 22,000-pound "scalloped" panel and the 11,000-pound flat panel. Both are hoisted into position and connected for lateral and gravity support at the floor slab with multiple galvanized steel anchor assemblies. A particular challenge of the project was waterproofing associated with the exposed horizontal precast panels. "The waterproofing had to be applied at the BPDL plant to avoid costly and difficult installation in the field and it had to be done immediately at the time of production without disrupting BPDL's plant workflow," said Gilsanz Murray Steficek Partner Achim Hermes. "Due to winter weather restrictions in Alma, Quebec from October to April, the application of the waterproofing had to be done indoors. That meant it had to occur shortly after the precast panels were stripped out of their forms."      
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Johnston Marklee reveals its curvy concrete UCLA art studios

In the middle of Hayden Tract, the Culver City, California, neighborhood famed for its collection of Eric Owen Moss-designed buildings, the UCLA Margo Leavin Graduate Art Studios celebrated its long-awaited opening with a private dinner for artists, colleagues, and students on September 26. The project is a major restoration and expansion of the university’s former graduate art program’s studio building, transforming the 21,000-square-foot warehouse into a 48,000 campus. The project was set into motion in 2016 when Margo Leavin made a lead gift of $20 million, the largest gift ever made by an alumna to the arts program. Designed by Johnston Marklee, a local architecture firm known for its understated designs and attention to detail, the facility includes a multipurpose gallery, 42 graduate studios, classroom spaces, interior courtyards, and a loft for the program’s artist-in-residence. "During the project’s development,” UCLA reported, “the architects engaged with students and faculty to best understand their needs and design a highly functional building that engenders a creative community.” One of the innovative spatial features to come out of this engagement is the close relationship between large communal facilities and smaller, more intimate private studios. The building was designed for LEED Gold certification and is notable for its addition to the old building’s exterior with a smooth, cylinder-patterned concrete facade, which, according to the architects, “eliminate[s] the need for waterproofing and insulation, and minimize[s] the construction footprint and waste.” In addition, the semi-outdoor nature of many of the building’s spaces within provides a passive heating and cooling system suited to the relatively temperate environment of Southern California. “Innovative building systems and elemental materials are distilled towards a holistic and efficient structure,” explained Johnston Marklee, “rather than adding layers of sustainable technology.”
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Höweler + Yoon will plant fluted concrete in the center of Boston

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Breaking ground later this year, 212 Stuart Street is located on the northern edge of Boston’s Bay Village Historic District between two very different contexts: a midrise commercial corridor and the 19th-century enclave of brick rowhouses. Architecture firm Höweler + Yoon was challenged with bridging these distinctive neighborhoods via a 20-story residential building that is contemporary in design but still deferential to the landmarked neighborhood. The architects found inspiration in the masonry buildings in the area, notably the fluted piers on a nearby 1930s garage dubbed “Motor Mart.” In response, they designed a series of super-scaled precast concrete panels to break up the relatively straightforward massing of the high-rise building into “courses” of varying height.
  • Architect Höweler + Yoon Sasaki (Architect of Record)
  • Facade Consultant Vidaris
  • Structural Engineer McNamara Salvia
  • Location Boston, MA
  • Date of Completion 2021
  • System Precast concrete barrier and window wall system
The facade is constructed from 14-inch-thick concave panels whose rhythms produce a dynamic play of light and shadow; there’s a depth and richness to the facade that echoes the surrounding historic architecture. The design was developed and refined over many iterations and with many physical models. The developer-client was won over by the idea with a small plaster prototype of the fluting but was ultimately convinced with a full-scale foam mockup created to study the lighting effects and to better understand how the deep concrete panels would affect the views from the inside. The concave panels and the overall assembly were optimized in collaboration with pre-casters, who helped the architects realize that it would be more efficient to use nine unique panels than the three they initially proposed. Window walls and glass spandrels complete the envelope. The design is more complex than it first appears, with a lot of movement and deflection that required extensive coordination between multiple systems to create the appearance of a single unified building envelope. “Ultimately, we worked out all the details with the help of the pre-caster, the glazier, the facade consultant, and the architect of record, Sasaki,” said principal Eric Höweler. “It’s a very clear diagram, but it turns out that requires a lot of work to get right.” The design of 212 Stuart Street was a collaborative process during which the architects also worked closely with the Bay Village community—who needed to be convinced. For nearly everyone except architects, concrete has a bad rap in Beantown, and the architects had to prove that they weren’t trying to build another Boston City Hall. The 1930s Motor Mart that inspired their design helped with this: “People thought it was limestone, but it’s actually precast,” noted Höweler. “So we were able to show that there is a way to do precast beautifully. It doesn’t have to look like City Hall.”
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Scientists are studying concrete production in space

Can you build with concrete in space? That is the question NASA and Pennsylvania State University researchers have been trying to get the answer to in their Microgravity Investigation of Cement Solidification (MICS) study. If humanity has any future on the moon or Mars, we’ll need shelter—not from rain or snow, but cosmic radiation and space debris. While the ubiquitous building material is easy enough to make on Earth, it was until now unclear how its mixing might fare in microgravity on other astral bodies. In a paper published in Frontiers in Materials, “Microgravity Effect on Microstructural Development of Tricalcium Silicate (C3S) Paste,” scientists reported on the different microstructures that appeared in concrete (composed of tricalcium silicate and water) made here on Earth and on the International Space Station. They discovered a greater porosity in the extraterrestrial concrete, which may affect the material's strength, though the scientists have yet to test the experimental result itself. The project’s principal investigator, Aleksandra Radlinska, said that “even though concrete has been used for so long on Earth, we still don’t necessarily understand all the aspects of the hydration process. Now we know there are some differences between Earth- and space-based systems and we can examine those differences to see which ones are beneficial and which ones are detrimental to using this material in space.” Humanity has long imagined about what it would be like to live off-world. The NASA and Penn State research comes as numerous explorations of manufacturing and building in space are being taken more seriously—from Elon Musk's ("impossible") terraforming aspirations and Jeff Bezos's own plans for a space colonization, to speculative projects investigating 3D printing on Mars that have won awards from NASA, and promising additive manufacturing experiments happening in the microgravity environment aboard the International Space Station. However, there is plenty to be done here on Earth, despite the astronomical whims of many billionaires. The team behind the concrete study hopes that by comparing the compositions of the concrete made in space and on Earth that more can be learned about how the materials we build with act on our own planet, as well.
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DIGSAU brings prefabricated concrete formwork to the Philadelphia Navy Yard

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The Philadelphia Navy Yard, similar to other waterfront areas across the country, is undergoing a two-decades-long transformation from a declining industrial district to a burgeoning office park. A significant number of businesses have located to the adaptively reused warehouses, while others are opting for entirely new construction. 351 Rouse Street, which is the U.S Headquarters of medical research laboratory Adaptimmune, is a recent addition to the area designed by architectural firm DIGSAU and clad in prefabricated concrete panels. DIGSAU, who are located a few miles north of the Philadelphia Navy Yard, are not unfamiliar with the site, having completed a similarly prefabricated concrete office building just down Rouse Street in 2015.
  • Facade Manufacturer Universal Concrete Centria YKK JE Berkowitz
  • Architect DIGSAU
  • Facade Installer Turner Construction EDA Hutts Glass Co.
  • Facade Consultant RDWI
  • Structural Engineer ENV
  • Location Philadelphia, PA
  • Date of Completion 2018
  • System Custom assembly
  • Products YKK YCW 750XT & 750SSG Guardian SunGuard AG 50 on clear, fabricated by JE Berkowitz Centria Silversmith Aluminum
Irregular sites require thoughtful and straightforward design and structural solutions; the project is located adjacent to an electrical substation, underground utility lines, and a nearby lot slated for future development. In response to this setting, DIGSAU developed a low-slung and, at certain moments, cantilevered massing for the nearly 50,000-square-foot structure. The overall character of the massing is extenuated by the horizontal impressions of the wood formwork. The light-gray surface is semi-reminiscent of a striated archeological section; the extruded and recessed finish alternates between rough and smooth grain and is broken up by ribbons of fenestration. The economy of the facade impression was significantly influenced by the budgetary and timeline constraints of the project, and the total tab for the project was an impressively tight $10 million. "The precast spandrel panels and ribbon windows are market-driven development approaches that have proven to be highly effective for controlling costs and speeding up construction timelines," said DIGSAU principal Mark Sanderson. "We were intrigued about how we might both embrace and deny these techniques simultaneously: the repetitive precast patterning is interrupted with vertical joints that increase in density where the ribbon windows are agitated." Installation of the panels had to be fairly straightforward to meet the tight timetable of the project. To this end, weld plates were cast into each facade unit which were then subsequently hoisted into place and welded to the steel frame. Once in place, the panels simultaneously function as both external cladding as well as support for the high climate-controlled YKK framing of the ribbon window. DIGSAU Associate Elizabeth Kahley will be joining the panel “Medium-sized and Mixed-use Projects: Opportunities for Creative Mix of Materials and Scale" at The Architect's Newspaper's upcoming Facades+ Philadelphia conference on October 18.
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New 3D-printed, crash-proof benches debut in Times Square

This May, designer Jou Doucet x Partners, working with the Times Square Design Lab (TSqDL), debuted a 3D-printed concrete alternative to the now-common heavy concrete planters, bollards, and more traditional “Jersey” barriers that surround public places and prominent buildings across the country. Anti-terror street furniture is the often ugly urban peripheral that plugs into our cities to add a new feature—specifically the capability to stop speeding vehicles and other terrorists attacks. Doucet’s design offers what he calls “a different, humanist approach to security.” The project was commissioned for the second annual TSqDL initiative, which was created to bring new design ideas to the public realm—specifically, New York's crossroads of the world that is visited by nearly half-a-million people daily. On display and in use since May, the Rely Bench comprises gently rounded, interconnected concrete platforms that each weigh over one ton. With its modular components connected with steel rods, the benches are designed to almost act like a net, catching a vehicle and absorbing its impact. The design is nice enough, but the real innovation is in the method used to make it. The Rely Bench is the first product to be manufactured through HyCoEx, a fully digital production method that street furniture company Urbastyle believes will “revolutionize the concrete furniture market”. Little information has been made available about the technology other than it uses an extrusion technique powered by a 3D printing robotic arm developed by Concrenetics and produced by UrbaStyle in partnership with Autodesk, ABB and Cementir Group. Though extrusion is common with plastics, HyCoEx is the first method to adopt it for concrete; other methods primarily use deposition, layering concrete to build the final form. The benefits of 3D printing over traditional concrete casting include lowering production costs resulting from reduced waste material and the lack of required mold. Indeed, Urbastyle believes that the HyCoEx method “may one day completely replace mold production.” Perhaps most significantly, HyCoEx empowers designers to efficiently create any form or surface pattern they can imagine. The company sees it as a type of “artisan” technology that removes the separation between design and fabrication. The Times Square installation was just a prototype of the design and technology, but prepare to see more of both soon. The Rely is currently being tested against international crash barrier standards.