When Kreysler & Associates's Bill Kreysler signed on to participate in the "Emerging Craftsmanship in Digital Fabrication" panel at April's Facades+ NYC conference, he immediately zeroed in on the second word in the title. "I don't think of craftsmanship the way most people do," he said. "When I say 'craftsmanship,' I think that applies as much to someone sitting in front of a computer with a 3D Rhino model as it does to a guy in a wood shop in Renaissance Italy." But just as a room full of woodworking tools does not, in and of itself, guarantee the quality of a carpenter's output, explained Kreysler, "just because you have a 3D computer program doesn't mean that somehow everything you do is going to be perfect—in fact, it's frequently not the case." Other fabrication specialists participating in the not-to-be missed discussion include moderator Hauke Jungjohann (Thornton Tomasetti) and co-panelists L. William Zahner (A. Zahner Company), James Carpenter (James Carpenter Design Associates), and Mic Patterson (Enclos). The gap between the potential offered by digital tools and the reality of building a high performance facade is exactly where things get interesting, said Kreysler. "Designers are becoming much more entangled in the manufacturing process," he observed. Once upon a time, a designer's involvement in every stage of a project's development, from concept through construction, was par for the course. But mass production techniques and concerns over liability eventually encouraged AEC industry professionals to retreat to separate camps. With the introduction of digital design tools, the pendulum began its swing back. "All of a sudden architects are designing buildings that nobody knows how to build," said Kreysler. Armed with 3D design documents, computer cutting tools, and other technology, designers are once again equipped to help brainstorm solutions to construction quandaries. As much as digital design software has enhanced the architect's skill set, specialized fabrication knowledge and experience remains relevant. Recent technological developments "are good for architects who are skilled, but that's where craftsmanship comes into it," said Kreysler. "If you don't know your tools, you can design something that turns out not to be possible to build." A practiced fabricator, meanwhile, spends his or her working days discerning the line between the buildable and folly. "The architect is discovering that in certain circumstances their best friend is the fabricator, the guy who says you can [manipulate a given material] this much—that's the kind of embedded knowledge that general contractors don't have, that architects don't have," said Kreysler. "It's a hive of bees rather than a lone operator. That's antithetical to the traditional mode in the construction industry. We're in a state of transition; the industry is changing, which is good." Hear more from Kreysler and co-panelists at Facades+ NYC. Register today to secure a space at the symposium on Day 1 and your preferred lab or dialog workshop on Day 2.
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Wave-like composite facade animates SFMOMA expansion.While visually interesting, the primary facade of the SFMOMA expansion (Snøhetta with associate architect EHDD) was not originally designed to pioneer a new material system. All that changed when William Kreysler visited the architect's New York office. "I went there to meet them about the interior," recalled Kreysler, whose firm—composite specialists Kreysler & Associates—had been called in to advise on the project's vaulted ceilings. "I asked about the exterior, how that was going to get done. They didn't know." Over the coming months, Kreysler & Associates transitioned from interior consultant to envelope fabricator as the facade itself was transformed from a ductal concrete fantasy to a fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) reality. Along the way, thanks to a patent-pending process developed by Kreysler & Associates, the design and fabrication team positioned itself on the cutting edge of high performance building enclosures with the first major use of FRP cladding on a multi-story facade in North America. When a client's representative called to ask if his firm—at that point poised to collaborate with an outside glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) contractor on mold-making—would consider taking on fabrication themselves, Kreysler's reaction was mixed. "I said, 'Yes, I don't see anything particularly complicated about it in terms of fabrication,'" he recalled. "The problem was the fire codes. No one in the [FRP] business had attempted to pass the fire code requirements." Kreysler & Associates had been keeping abreast of the regulatory situation, and had been involved in inserting a new section for FRP into the International Building Code[s]. But the fire code test itself, NFPA 285, is expensive. After further conversation, the client committed to partially fund the test. "We got to the point where I said, 'Okay, I'm willing to put some money at risk here,'" said Kreysler. "We went ahead and did it." Kreysler & Associates' system, which they call Fireshield 285, passed the test, likely becoming the first FRP cladding panel to do so. Having thus paved the way for a more widespread application of the lightweight material to building exteriors, the fabricator's next step was to bid to three facade companies. Of the firms to which they introduced their design, Enclos was the most engaged. By the end of the first meeting, Kreysler & Associates and Enclos had brainstormed ideas to eliminate the secondary structural frame intended to go in front of the weatherproof wall specified in the original design. Soon the group introduced an additional innovation. Enclos is known for its expertise in unitized panel systems rather than conventional walls, explained Kreysler. "We said, 'Maybe we could make our material so lightweight, we could just fasten our material onto the front of the unitized wall panel.'" Kreysler is quick to give credit to Enclos "for seeing the potential and sharing their expertise in building facades so we could work collaboratively to take full advantage of both systems' strengths." With a combined composite-unitized wall panel assembly, one team of contractors could erect the entire rain screen in a single shot. "It would save one million pounds of structural steel, plus the time of going around the building three times," said Kreysler. Not surprisingly, "the contractor liked it, and the owner liked it," he recalled. Only one obstacle remained. "Unitized wall systems are designed to go in straight lines, or if curved, are curved in a radius," said Kreysler. "But if you look at the facade of SFMOMA, it's all over the place." The Kreysler & Associates-Enclos team quickly developed a solution: Kreysler & Associates would fabricate their panels with edges of different depths to bridge the gap between the facade's surface and the flat unitized panel wall. "We were able to create a curved front even though the the wall behind was a nice straight line," explained Kreysler. "From the front of the building you don't see any of the edges—you see this flowing curved line. That was a big breakthrough, and as a result, Enclos really got behind our system." The client was suitably impressed, and Kreysler & Associates won the contract against bids involving GFRC systems. "Even if our price turned out to be higher, the benefits of only going around the building one time, and the benefits of a system considered to be a higher-quality weatherproof wall" won out, said Kreysler. Though the expansion is not expected to open until 2016, Kreysler & Associates' work on the project is finished. The installation went "beautifully," said Kreysler. The 710 unique FRP panels were mechanically fastened and bonded to the unitized wall using a custom aluminum extrusion. The Enclos representatives had been nervous, he recalled. However, "the project manager told me that in the years he's being doing this, it was the most complicated project he's ever done, but in the end this was the most straightforward part of the project." As for Kreysler himself, he has no regrets—quite the opposite. "It was tricky, but it was fun and interesting," he said. "And it was nice to know that we were breaking new ground."
Do you dare to get your hands dirty? If so, you won't want to miss Kreysler & Associates' Bill Kreysler and Joshua Zabel as they lead the "Hands-On Composites" Technology Workshop at facades+PERFORMANCE on July 12th in San Francisco! Since it’s founding in 1982 Kreysler & Associates has excelled as a leader in the development of molding and application of composites for construction and architectural uses. In this very hands-on workshop Kreysler and Zabel will delve into an in-depth exploration of composite materials, which Bill Kreysler defines as "engineered or naturally occurring materials made from two or more constituent materials with significantly different physical or chemical properties which remain separate and distinct at the macroscopic or microscopic scale within the finished structure." The full-day workshop will focus specifically on using composite materials in the creation of high-performance facade designs. Participants will not only earn 8 LU AIA CE credits but they will also get the chance to design their very own FRP shapes and develop the creative and technical knowledge necessary to design and prototype composite based building components. Learn more about our workshops and register for our facades+ conference here!
Composite materials, a.k.a. “composites,” are the result of the two different materials being combined but remaining physically and chemically distinct. For over 40 years Bill Kreysler, founder of the Napa County-based Kreysler Associates, has been leading developments in molding and application of composites for architectural use. On July 27 Kreysler and his associate Joshua Zabel will lead a special workshop on how composites are used in facades today as part of the AN's upcoming conference Collaboration: the Art and Science of Building Facades, taking place July 26-27 in San Francisco. After getting his start in manufacturing sailboats, Kreysler founded his own firm in 1982 and brought his knowledge of fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) to bear on architectural and industrial products as well as large scale sculpture (his workshop boasts three CNC-milling machines). Currently chair of the committee to write Guide Specifications and Recommended Practice for FRP Architectural Products and a founding member of the newly formed Digital Fabrication Alliance, Kreysler is also co-author of Composites, Surfaces, and Software High Performance Architecture with Greg Lynn. Through lectures and a rare opportunity for hands-on learning, the upcoming July 27 workshop will provide participants with both the creative and technical knowledge to design and prototype composite based building components. Participants will also be eligible to compete in a limited competition to have a small component fabricated full-scale by Kreysler & Associates to be exhibited at ACADIA 2012, a conference on computer-aided design. To register for the Collaboration conference, click here.
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California’s Monterey Bay Aquarium updates its million-gallon Open Sea exhibitLocated 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. K&A began the project by researching new coatings that could improve the liner’s design. They found a gel-coat material called IMEDGE, which is designed to be abrasion-resistant and colorfast during long-term water immersion. In addition to being durable, the coating’s color would give the tank a more authentic deep-sea appearance. Testing done by an independent marine lab confirmed the material is nontoxic to marine life (and actually may have a positive impact on its health). The team also identified the impact forces exerted by the aquarium’s 250-pound tunas traveling at 25 knots and modeled the FRP liner’s structural characteristics accordingly. Because the initial design phase had to be conducted while the tank was full, the team estimated measurements for their liner from the exterior. They planned to reuse the aquarium’s original FRP support ribs, but could not use their documented dimensions because of settling that would have occurred over their more than 15 years in the water. To account for the margin of error, the team designed the liner in 180 sections, most of which have unique curvatures. Adjacent pieces were designed to overlap, allowing the team to adjust them during installation. Because pieces were designed and manufactured offsite, the aquarium’s downtime was limited to four months of installation, plus a few additional weeks to refill the tank and recondition the water. After inputting their 3-D models, K&A used a gantry-mounted CNC router to carve each section’s curves into large expanded polystyrene foam blocks, then built up layers of FRP over these molds to create a ¼-inch shell. Most of the liner’s sections measure approximately 10 by 12 feet. The existing shell offered no place to attach building scaffolding, so installers worked from swing-stage scaffolding hanging from a concrete slab above. For their last time-saving trick, the team moved to floating platforms to finish the work, rising with the water level as the aquarium began to refill the tank—and prepare for a new wave of visitors.
A 56-foot-long aluminum sculpture leaps into Sacramento’s new airport.Whether they need a reminder that they’re late (for a very important gate!) or welcome a distraction from the hassle of modern travel, visitors to Sacramento’s International Airport will not miss Denver-based artist Lawrence Argent’s Leap sculpture. Completed last month in the new Corgan Associates-designed Terminal B, the 56-foot-long red rabbit is suspended mid-jump in the building’s three-story central atrium. An oversize “vortical suitcase” placed in the baggage claim below completes the piece. Argent worked with California-based Kreysler & Associates, a specialist in the design, engineering, and fabrication of large-scale sculptural and architectural objects, to build his vision while meeting the airport’s safety requirements. The team originally planned to build the sculpture with glass fiber composite, but fire codes would have required additional engineering studies to prove it was flame retardant. Additionally, the building was going to be largely enclosed by the time the sculpture was ready for installation, making it impossible to bring the sculpture, which is 14 feet wide and more than 16 feet high, into the building in one piece. Argent had designed the sculpture as a form composed of hundreds of flat triangles. “The piece lent itself to aluminum as long as we could figure out how to fabricate the pieces,” said Bill Kreysler, who founded the fabrication company in 1982. Working with Argent’s digital renderings, Kreysler’s team translated the design into Rhino, creating what he calls a semi-monocoque structure with a double-skin of thin aluminum on a thin-ribbed interior aluminum frame. The decorative surface is composed of 1,446 CNC-cut triangles with side dimensions ranging from 1 inch to 3 feet. Etched with a numbering system, the triangles were placed using laser-projected grid lines. “I think that one of the things that is often overlooked in this digital fabrication world is that there’s a sense that because computers are controlling the process, the human element is reduced, but in many ways it’s increased,” said Kreysler, who limited the number of people working on the piece to ensure consistency. The rabbit’s interior structure was assembled into 14 pieces of varying diameters in the shop, then transported to the airport for assembly. The exterior aluminum triangles are textured with crushed glass to create a velvet-matte surface and float 1½ inches above the interior shell with aluminum standoffs. Even in the light-filled atrium space the sculpture’s suspension system appears minimal. The concentrated loads coming from seven custom wire rope suspension cables with swage fittings are received by the rabbit’s internal steel armature. Aluminum transverse members then distribute these loads from the steel armature to the monocoque aluminum shell. Unveiled on October 6, the new $1.3 billion airport addition is the largest construction project in Sacramento’s history. The rabbit is the centerpiece of the 14 art installations—more than $6 million worth—commissioned by the city’s Metropolitan Arts Commission and planned for completion in the coming years.