Posts tagged with "Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute":

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A Q+A with Dennis Shelden, RPI’s Center for Architecture Science and Ecology new director

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Center for Architecture Science and Ecology (CASE) has announced that architect and entrepreneur Dennis Shelden will be taking over as its director. The academic-industrial research and teaching alliance, focused on using technology to address concerns of “built ecology,” was founded in 2007, and is located across RPI’s main campus in Troy, New York, and in Industry City in Brooklyn. Shelden will be departing his position as an associate professor at Georgia Tech, where he was also director of the Digital Building Laboratory and the School of Architecture’s doctoral program. Previously he held other academic appointments, and worked with Frank Gehry and Gehry Partners for many years before serving as CTO of  Gehry Technologies, which was later acquired by Trimble. AN spoke with Shelden to find out more about the future of CASE and how technology and climate change are reshaping not only how and what architects design and build, but how the industry functions. Drew Zeiba: What are some of the biggest challenges you think architects and others working in the built environment face going into this new decade?  Dennis Shelden: I believe the building industries are entering a period of disruptive transformation similar to those seen by other industries in the 21st century. These changes will impact the “products” of building—the physical buildings themselves—as well as the delivery processes, including the erosion the identified boundaries between the distinct building professions. What do these changes mean for architects in light of the climate crisis? These changes are coming at an urgent time for the built environment, in that so many aspects of [the] climate crisis are either the product of building (such as carbon release, and habitat destruction), or have existential impacts on built systems (rising sea levels, drought, weather). Responses to environmental challenges are not “just” something that building professionals should respond to from an ethical perspective, they are becoming critical drivers of requirements either by legislation or risk response from clients. The challenge for the architectural discipline is, simply put, to rise to meet the opportunities in front of it. These include new opportunities to develop initiatives and take on opportunities in the built environment beyond the scope of architectural services, to generate innovations and to capitalize on the value of new ideas, and to rethink the products we produce and what a building is.  The issue is that architecture as a discipline and a culture has been quite self-limiting and defines itself by what it isn’t (a contractor, and owner, an industrial designer) as much as by what it is. This self-limiting is potentially very risky, as business models for the built environment evolve and as others, such as manufacturers and tech companies, start entering the building industry and capturing pieces of the value chain that have traditionally been architectural services. So in order to meet the challenges and capitalize on the opportunities happening in the built environment, architecture is going to have to rethink what it is, and embrace a much more expansive and heterogeneous definition of practice. What new technologies are you most compelled by or excited for? And what does this mean for CASE? There are a number of interrelated technological advances available to designers. These include the web and cloud computing, data analytics, and environmental sensors, coupled with the sort of automated generative design capabilities from the last era, and in concert with mass production opportunities and access to capital. Together these create a wealth of opportunities to understand and act on transformative innovations in the built environment in the larger context—as integral parts of holistic urban systems and at across scales both larger and smaller than a single building.  This is the opportunity for CASE and the heart of its mission for its chapter: To drive systemic technological and ecological—as well as process and business—innovation in the building industries, in order to reassert the role of design and the built environment as engines for social change in wholly new ways. You’ve worked in a traditional firm and in architectural technology. What role do you see research and R&D taking in architecture within and outside of the university environment? My hope is that CASE can become a new kind of academic venture, with far more direct models of engagement with both the building and tech industries. I think there is a need for not-for-profit centers for innovation that competitive private ventures can’t deliver. And certainly the education of students and development of talent is a key part of what academia offers. But there are a lot of potential new models to consider—from lifelong professional education and embedded research in practice to startup incubation. I am looking for CASE to be a model for exploring these possibilities in active collaboration with the remarkable building professional and tech as well as social, philanthropic, and business organizations in New York City.  What are going to be some of your first steps in this new position? As a first couple of steps, we are developing new professional educational programs in design technology and technology practice leadership, and will be building out a new internship research in residence program where we can drive innovation onto projects together with partnering companies. We are thinking about new ways of leveraging the studio program as a way [of] connecting with building product, manufacturing, and software companies, as well as humanitarian organizations. And in May we will be hosting a symposium on disruptive technologies and organizational models that will relaunch CASE into the New York City community around this expanded agenda.
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2018 Best of Design Awards winners for Research

2018 Best of Design Awards winner for Research: Stalled! Designer: JSA Stalled! is a design-research project by Joel Sanders Architects (JSA) in collaboration with Susan Stryker and Terry Kogan that responds to the national debate about transgender access to public restrooms. The speculative design addresses the need for safe, sustainable, and inclusive restrooms. While most debates consider this as solely a transgender rights issue, this project casts a wider net by developing inclusive guidelines that take all people into consideration. Using this inclusive design methodology, JSA created three viable and economical prototypes for inclusive facilities for new construction projects or retrofitting. A generic airport version reconceives the restroom as a semi-open agora, animated by three parallel activity zones dedicated to grooming, washing, and toilet facilities. Honorable Mentions Project name: Marine Education Center Designer: Lake|Flato Architects Location: Ocean Springs, Mississippi Project name: After Bottles; Second Lives Designer: ANAcycle design + writing studio/Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Location: Brooklyn, New York and Troy, New York
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An experimental disaster shelter turns packaging into protection

Plastic bottles are thought of as inherently wasteful, but what if the containers could go on to have a productive second life elsewhere? An experimental prototype shelter designed by an architecture design studio at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, New York, wants to turn that packaging into structurally-sound shelters. Second Lives | After Bottles was first assembled on RPI’s campus where it endured real-world conditions and later moved to Industry City in Brooklyn for Wanted Design from May 16 through 22 (part of NYC x Design Week 2018). The installation was made possible through the use of a proprietary bottle patented by Friendship Bottles LLC, which uses grooves and wedges to create a tightly interlocking bottle design. Throughout the design studio, RPI students, educators, and engineers sought to design a shelter that would be self-tensioning, stable, and that used the least amount of materials. Even the bottles packaging has been integrated into the final design; the team has created a triangular wooden crate that can unfold to form a topography-following floor and acts as a base for the plastic walls above. 3D printed joints and cross bracing were used to connect bottles at angles other than what the bottles themselves allowed. Lydia Kallipoliti, project lead and Assistant Professor of Architecture at RPI, said that the aim was to ship as few materials as possible into a disaster area. With a 3D printer on the ground, crates of water and an assembly diagram could be shipped in and the required parts printed in-situ. The team found multiple uses for the bottles, running LED lights through the bottles making up the roof, and filling bottles on the side with water and food for easy takeaway. Testing is still ongoing to ensure that the final design would be tight enough to keep out rainwater. Another structure made from the same interlocking bottles was set up across from the Wanted exhibition hall, this one courtesy of RPI’s Center for Architecture Science and Ecology (CASE). The CASE team has built their “testing chamber” by arranging the bottles vertically and have been monitoring the internal heat, humidity, and air quality. Making sure that the bottles aren’t decomposing and releasing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is especially important, as the UN has strict air quality guidelines for disaster shelters. Ultimately, the goal of Second Lives isn’t to introduce a new bottle into the plastic ecosystem, but to convert existing companies over, said Kallipoliti. If the Cokes and Pepsis of the world switched to a bottle that could then be used as a construction material, the worldwide reduction in waste would be immense.

Project Lead: Lydia Kallipoliti (Assistant Professor of Architecture, School of Architecture, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)

Project Team: Adam Beres, Bryce Crawford, Amanda Esso, Reed Freeman, Emily Freeman, Jacob Laird, Deegan Lotz, Christopher Michelangelo, Arun Padykula, Raina Page, Abigail Ray, Daniel Ruan, Emily Sulanowski, Stefanie Warner

Collaborators: Tom Roland (Fabrication Coordinator, School of Architecture, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), Andreas Theodoridis (PhD Candidate, Center for Architecture, Science and Ecology/ Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)

Structural Engineer: Mohammed Alnaggar (Assistant Professor of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)

Sponsor: Friendship Bottles LLC, Timothy Carlson (Managing Partner)

CASE Project |Transitional Bottle Shelter Environmental Analysis 

Project Leads: Josh Draper (Lecturer, CASE, RPI), Alexandros Tsamis (Associate Director, CASE, RPI)

Project Team: Alexis Clarke, Valerie Kwart, Yiqi Song, Duo Zhang, Mohammed Aly

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QUICK CLICKS>Hadid in Glasgow, Transport Race, P2P, and the Rome Prize

Major in Glasgow. The Guardian reveals images of Zaha Hadid's new Riverside Museum in Glasgow, which highlights the machinery, technology, and history of transportation. Pictured above, the museum reflects the shipyard structures on its grounds. The Guardian's Jonathan Glancey writes, "Riverside blends into the climate and culture of Glasgow and its riverscape, feeling like part of its great flow of architecture and history." How to be quick. With the new East River ferry, which will be the fastest way to make it to work? To be sure, the Gothamist conducted a commuter race. The ferry was a lovely time to rest but a bit of a steep investment, biking a slightly more dangerous route, while the subway remained the quickest method, getting one commuter to work not only on time but with two minutes to spare. Making Space. SF streets blog shares a new project generously offered to the city by Audi, announcing more to come for San Francisco pedestrians. The Powell Street promenade will bring public space to the commercial downtown, part of a set of P2P (Pavement to Parks) projects to create green space in major cities including San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. The Rome Prize. The Rome Prize fellowship for architecture goes to Lonn Combs. The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute professor and principal at New York based firm EASTON+COMBS will take the upcoming year to continue to explore the work of Italian architect Pier Luigi Nervi. Congratulazioni!