As implied by its name, Confluence Park overlooks the meeting of San Pedro Creek and the San Antonio River in San Antonio, Texas. Located about three miles south of downtown, the park acts as a gateway for the historic Mission Reach section of the San Antonio River. The $13.7 million project includes an education center and extensive landscaping that illustrates the diverse biomes of Texas. But what most visitors will remember about the 3.5-acre park are the nearly 30-foot-tall concrete petals that emerge from the ground to form a sprawling overhead canopy. Twenty-two of these sculptural panels are clustered together to form a single, large, open-air pavilion. Another six are paired together to form three smaller gathering areas. In addition to providing relief from the South Texas sun, these panels are shaped so that when it rains, they channel water into an integrated system of rainwater collection, filtration, and dispersal. All of this reinforces the stated mission of the park, which is to act as a destination for recreation while teaching important lessons about environmental science and sustainability. To that end, the design team sought to create a composition of architectural and landscape elements that used the same kind of logic found in nature. Ball-Nogues Studio, a Los Angeles–based design practice, established the park’s conceptual master plan. From there, the design was developed in close collaboration with the landscape architect Rialto Studio, Lake|Flato Architects, and Matsys, a San Francisco–based design practice that specializes in the development of new approaches to architectural design and fabrication. That particular skill set was critical in the development of the park’s concrete. Given the structural gymnastics involved, the project’s structural engineer, Architectural Engineers Collaborative (AEC), became an integral part of the design team as well. Although petals of steel, fabric, and wood were all considered during the design process, concrete was ultimately selected for its durability and permanence. Even though the majority of funding for the project came from private donations, Confluence Park functions as a public park, and so vandalism and long-term resiliency were key considerations. Despite the apparent complexity of the assembled petals, the design only required three unique petal shapes. These three forms were refined digitally using Grasshopper and Rhino. The resulting computer files were then provided to Kreysler & Associates and fed to their large 5-axis CNC router at their factory in California. The resulting Styrofoam “positives” were then used to manufacture the fiberglass “negatives” that were shipped to San Antonio to be used as formwork for the petals. Each of the park’s 28 petals was cast on-site but not in place. Given their complex geometry, a portion of the petal had to be exposed during the pour. This resulted in two contrasting concrete textures: a smooth finish where the concrete was poured into the fiberglass form, and a broom finish where the concrete was left exposed. As with many other aspects of the project, a custom solution was required here, too. A special eight-inch broom was used to apply the finish consistently to the petal’s curved form and to emulate the flow of water down the petals. After the concrete had cured for several days, the petals were lifted into their final positions. As with any tilt-up concrete structure, this was the moment when the highest stresses would be placed upon the petals. Adding to the complexity of the erection process was the fact that the petals had to be assembled in pairs: neighboring petals were joined to one another with two steel pin connections to form a determinant structure. The result of all this effort is a unique landmark on the south side of San Antonio. Despite the weight of the concrete petals—individual petals weigh between 15 and 20 tons each—the resulting structure feels remarkably light. The space between individual petals contributes to this feeling of weightlessness, while acrylic lenses embedded in the concrete add a bit of playfulness to the overall composition. In addition to illustrating the possibilities of contemporary concrete construction, Confluence Park demonstrates what is possible when a highly collaborative interdisciplinary design team works with an educated client to create something truly unique. It is only fitting that a park built to celebrate the confluence of diverse bodies of water be created by a confluence of diverse design professionals. Pavilion Design Matsys Landscape Architect Rialto Studio Structural Engineer Architectural Eng. Collaborative MEP CNG Engineering, PLLC Lighting Designer Mazzetti Energy Consultants Positive Energy Waterproofing Consultant Acton Partners This article originally appeared in the July/August issue of Texas Architect magazine.
Posts tagged with "Ball-Nogues Studio":
A custom architectural enclosure composed of 200 CNC-milled custom aluminum extrusions.Forming a porous perimeter to a new ballpark at Southwest University Park in El Paso (home to the minor league El Paso Chihuahuas), Ball-Nogues Studio's “Not Whole Fence” project taps into a tradition of monumentally over-scaled public art with an attention to craft and detailing. Capping off the Populous-designed ballpark, the fence installation turns the corner along a busy pedestrian intersection. The public art commission involved design, engineering, and installation in a rapid timeframe – the architects were given less than a year from conceptualization through fabrication. Benjamin Ball, principal in charge at Ball-Nogues Studio, said there was a desire to address the history of the game with the installation. “There’s a mythical history to baseball about kids using knotholes in the fence to sneak views into the game if they didn’t have tickets.” The fence adopts a large scale wood grain patterning, scaling up the dimensions of a picket to form one massive bending surface. Strategically placed “knotholes” in the surface composition allow pedestrians an opportunity to catch a glimpse of the action on the field. “The structural quality of the fence creates a sense of mystery. By allowing mostly partial views of the action inside the ballpark, it calls for the imagination to conjure up the rest of the picture, creating a sense of fantasy and infinite possibilities.” While the design concept evokes a literal image of a wood plank, the detailing of the facade components produce a sophisticated, robust assembly. The architects designed the fence as a system of extrusions serving as both the skin and the structure. Working with Sapa Extrusions, the team designed and produced a custom dye for production of a unique aluminum extrusion for the project, ultimately yielding around 200 repeatable components that bolt together on site. Ball said a lot of design and engineering that went into the individual extrusion. The team designed in fins on the front side, with larger struts on the back side, producing enough structural rigidity to withstand a subtractive CNC milling process. A wood grain patterning is registered in the surface by milling out selective areas of the panels. When viewed frontally, glimpses of the ballpark can be seen, however when viewed obliquely, large struts block openings while providing surface area to reflect a soft glow of daylight. Ball notes interesting similarities to the tectonic assembly of some segments of the US/Mexico border fence, only a quarter mile from the site. "You can't blow anything up to a colossal scale without thinking about Claus Oldenberg," said Ball regarding the literal reading of a picket fence in their fence facade. "We've never used that as a strategy before in our work. This still has to function as a fence, and we still value things like detailing, tectonics, connections. In contrast to Oldenberg's work, we occupy an "unusual gray zone" between architecture and public art.” Ball says his studio is ultimately is interested in craft of building regardless of typology. “We're looking for the right challenges, and the right people to work with. Are they willing to take chances? Do they believe in our process? That could apply to buildings or public art.” CORRECTION: Neal Feay Company was originally omitted from our list of Project Credits. The studio played a significant role in the machining process, providing specialty fabrication and consultation for the “Not Whole Fence” project.
A prominent corner in West Hollywood now wears an architectural halo. Tasked with designing a permanent installation for The Dylan, a new apartment building at Santa Monica Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, Ball-Nogues Studio decided to create "something that would serve as a kind of gateway to West Hollywood," according to Benjamin Ball. "Because we were going to work on this corner, we didn’t have very much real estate. We decided to think about the corner as though it was emanating a kind of supernatural force, something suggestive of some kind of metaphysical presence emanating from this banal corner of the building. Sort of like a glory that surrounds a relic’s figure in religious iconography, without the religious icon." Working closely with engineers Buro Happold, Ball-Nogues designed Corner Glory, a fan of mirror-polished stainless steel spikes arranged around a column of inset windows. "We looked at ways in which we could create...something that suggested aura or an energy field, or a solar flare," said Ball. The reflective surface, its individual components lined up as the teeth of a comb, gradually dematerializes as it projects out from the building. "It doesn’t have a strong edge in spite of being a solid material," explained Ball. Corner Glory, which was both fabricated and installed by Ball-Nogues Studio, is fully integrated with the structure of the building. The Dylan, developed by Monarch Builders and Essex Property Trust, is joined by a second Monarch-Essex development at Fountain and La Brea called The Huxley. (The buildings were named for writers Dylan Thomas and Aldous Huxley, respectively.) Newman Garrison + Partners designed both six-story buildings, which together cost more than $150 million. The Huxley, which has 187 units, opened March 15. The Dylan, with 184 units, is expected to open this summer.
LAX finally opened its shiny new Tom Bradley terminal, designed by Fentress Architects, to quite a hullabaloo in July. The throngs who showed up for “Appreciation Days” got to enjoy shopping, music, and even free LAX keychains and knickknacks. But one of the most prominent elements was missing: the public art. Major pieces by Ball-Nogues, Pae White, and Mark Bradford were all delayed for what one participant called “a lack of sophistication on LAX’s part” in shepherding such work through. In other words, the officials didn’t get how to pull this kind of thing off. Well never fear, despite the bumps, contract disputes, and many miscues, the installations will begin opening in late September and continue through the end of the year. Better late than never.
Things didn't work out for installation experts Ball-Nogues Studio at MOCA's New Sculpturalism show, but the firm has rebounded nicely. They've just completed mounting one of their most ambitious works yet: a 70-foot-tall upside-down replica of William Pereira's Transamerica Pyramid, for the show Modernist Maverick: The Architecture of William Pereira, on view at the Nevada Art Museum in Reno, NV. The installation, made out of chain link and stainless steel plates, hangs from the ceiling via steel cables attached to the museum building's structure. "We distilled it to its barest essentials. It looks like the ghost of the building," said Ball-Nogues principal Gaston Nogues. Each chain could only be attached at a specific point, so the hardest part was fine tuning the model, stretching and moving each possible iteration, added Nogues. "It's quite labor intensive to make sure it looked flat, and that each chain had the right tension," he said. The show, which opens next week, runs from through October 13. It looks at many other noted Pereira projects, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the University of California, San Diego Geisel Library, and the Theme Building at LAX.
Ball-Nogues Studio: Yevrus 1, Negative Impression SCI-Arc Gallery 960 East 3rd Street Los Angeles, CA June 1–July 8 On display at the SCI-Arc Gallery is Los Angeles–based architecture practice Ball-Nogues Studio’s Yevrus 1, Negative Impression, which attempts to call into question the current fashionability of abstracted and digital forms. Through an assemblage of non-architectural objects represented very literally, the project represents a new type of site survey. The objects selected to be part of the structure were picked from the Los Angeles suburban landscape (a pool, above) and become the elements of an installation. The architects used digital scanning technology to make biodegradable paper-pulp castings of 1973 Volkswagen Beetles and speedboats for a lookout tower in the gallery. Yevrus (“survey” spelled backwards) is a new technique pioneered by the firm that rethinks the site survey by utilizing it not as a tool for construction and engineering, but as a methodology of deriving form, creating structures, and realizing meaning.
The Architectural League of New York's Emerging Voices program is one of the country's most prestigious venues for showcasing significant design talent. This years list is no exception, with a mix of young and more established firms, working in a variety of scales and formal and social approaches. The lecture series will begin on Wednesday, March 9 with Brooklyn's Interboro Partners and Lateral Office of Toronto. Wednesday, March 16: de leon + primmer architecture workshop of Louisville, Kentucky and WXY architecture + urban design of New York. Wednesday, March 23: Ruy Klein of New York and Taylor and Miller Architecture and Design of Great Barrington, MA. Wednesday, March 30: Ball Nogues Studio of Los Angeles and P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S also of Los Angeles.