Posts tagged with "Brick":

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Mexican artist's clay volumes respond to Trump's border wall and other social barriers

In September, the Mexican-born artist Bosco Sodi responded to Trump’s border wall plans with "Muro," a one-day performance installation in Washington Square Park in downtown New York City. “Muro” translates to “wall” in Spanish, an apt title for what Sodi built, brick by brick, with the help of his Mexican creative friends living in the city and anyone who happened to be in the park between 3 and 8 p.m. After every brick was stacked, the wall was torn down by the same people who might otherwise be on both sides of the wall, suggestively breaking down physical and mental barriers. Sodi made 1,600 clay bricks for Muro by extracting raw earth and mixing it with water and sand to form clay–a vernacular Mexican building material. The clay was then shaped and smoothed by hand into solid cubes that were left to air dry in the sun at his studio in Oaxaca, Mexico. Once cured, the cubes were fired in a traditional brick kiln with wood, jacaranda seeds, and coconut shells. Using the same process, Sodi formed clay cube sculptures, which he considers “living sculptures,” for Caryatides, his first solo exhibit at Paul Kasmin Gallery, on view until January 6, 2018. Stacked in a series of volumes, the cubes are a material amalgam of varied terra cotta hues, streaks of green and black, and jolie laide surfaces. The Architect's Newspaper spoke with Bosco Sodi about his exhibit and his process.  Architect's Newspaper: Why clay? Bosco Sodi: Clay is one of the early material building materials. It is poetic, representing the essence of human building. I have been using clay for 3 years. It began when I started to go very often to see the [local] clay workers. I visited them and started to experiment. I wanted to do something that was seemingly impossible to develop with the material. It took a year to develop a cube that did not split and break. We made them by hand, and then we let them dry in the sun for two months, then they cook in the kiln. Each [Caryatides] cube weighs 3,000 pounds.  AN: What is unique about your process of making these works? BS: Made with no mold, they are completely human-formed. The materials [themselves] are unpredictable; they create a unique result each time. The clay cubes and bricks are made by hand, in the same process to build the wall in Washington Square Park and the sculptures in the gallery. They are political pieces. AN: How is the material political? BS: All of the bricks have different colors, yet they are made the same. They are the metaphor of the dream of what it meant to come [to the United States]. AN: And then, the political meaning came into form as performance at the Muro installation? BS: Yes. We put up a wall in the U.S. made by Mexicans with Mexican elements: sun, water, fire, wind, and earth. It was made in a public place, New York, by Mexicans. Then, we let everyone take it down. It was a social performance where you become part of a happening and a result of the piece. Caryatides, the first solo exhibition devoted to Bosco Sodi’s clay cube sculptures, is on view through January 6, 2018 at Paul Kasmin Gallery on 515 West 27th Street. *This interview was edited minimally for clarity.
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Volcanic stone wraps new publishing headquarters

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Paju Book City, around an hour's drive north of Seoul, is a unique cultural complex entirely devoted to the creation, publication, merchandising, and sales of Korean books. Around 250 publishers with over 10,000 workers call Paju Book City home. Fittingly, Paju Book City is also the site of the Rainbow Publishing Headquarters, recently completed by London-based DaeWha Kang Design. The project is a mixed-use four-story building that combines offices, a gallery, and a residence for its Korean-based publisher. A simple box-like volume incorporates a large vertical window on its primary facade, revealing a custom-designed bookshelf and staircase configuration that provides a growing archive for the publisher’s collection of work.
  • Architects DaeWha Kang Design (design architect); Lee & Lee (local architect)
  • Facade Installer L’Espace (general contractor)
  • Facade Consultants Younha Rhee (sustainability consultant)
  • Location Jeju Book City (South Korea)
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System reinforced concrete structure with masonry veneer
  • Products locally sourced hyeon-mu-am volcanic stone
Bricks of varying depths, from approximately 2-1/2 inches to four inches, are composed to produce a staggered geological strata-like patterning up the shell of the building. This subtle use of texture and rhythm “adds layers of richness and meaning to otherwise austere forms, according to the projects London-based architect DaeWha Kang. “The challenge of the project was to create a dramatic impact within limited means. Simplifying the volume and focusing on the quadruple height space of the main circulation stair creates a sense of monumentality and strength.” The brick material Kang used is inspired by hyeon-mu-am volcanic stone traditionally sourced from Jeju Island, a volcanic island off the southern tip of South Korea, although for this project the low-density basalt veneer bricks were sourced from nearby China for budgetary reasons. The material is common among Korean decorative objects and Kang estimates around 200 to 300 buildings in nearby Seoul incorporate the material, analogous to a granite or other specialty stone, on their facade. The most notable component of the project is a staircase that wraps around a 100-shelf bookcase which serves to catalog the work of the publisher. Kang said the vision of the publisher is to produce small print run biographies of ordinary Koreans who have lived through extraordinary times of the twentieth century, building up a country from one of the poorest in the world to a globally successful economy. “Their belief is that while individual lives might be only small sparks of light when collected and seen together they might come together into a beautiful rainbow.” The staircase winds its way around one hundred levels of shelves, rising through the years from 1918 to 2017. As the publishers release each book, they will put the new biographies on the shelves corresponding to the years when their subjects were born. In this way, the journey through the building becomes a journey through the history of the country and its people. The custom fabricated wood and steel bookshelf is revealed to the exterior by means of a large vertical window. By coordinating joints of the butt glazed window panels with the angle of the staircase, a more seamless and transparent view to the bookshelf beyond was achieved. The diagonal geometry of the window panels pairs nicely with a tapered wall return, which accentuates the depth of the facade and establishes a planar starting point for the textured brick patterning of the facade. Kang’s office analyzed the siting of the building and local climatic conditions help to establish key views both to the building from the surrounding city and to the surrounding mountains from within the building. This resulted in positioning the building with precise setbacks. The long side elevation performatively absorbs winter sunlight, radiating heat to the garden while protecting the site from northerly wind. Small windows on the north elevation help to manage heat loss while encouraging cross ventilation. This understanding of the site allows the building to quietly perform. Kang said that, in the end, the project was an effort to create a timeless building through simple volumetrics and materiality.
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First look at Michael Maltzan’s Moody Center for the Arts in Houston

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The Moody Center for the Arts, designed by Los Angeles–based Michael Maltzan Architecture (MMA), is a 50,000-square-foot, $30 million center located on the campus of Rice University. It serves the campus and general public as an experimental platform for making and showcasing works across disciplines through deliberately flexible interior spaces.
  • Facade Manufacturer Endicott (brick units)
  • Architects Michael Maltzan Architecture
  • Facade Installer Linbeck (contractor); Dee Brown, Inc (masonry subcontractor); Duke Glass (glazing systems)
  • Facade Consultants Thornton Tomasetti (facade consultant); Guy Nordenson and Associates (structural engineer)
  • Location Houston, TX
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System steel frame, masonry veneer, curtain wall
  • Products Manganese Ironspot norman masonry brick units by Endicott; first floor curtain wall & second floor windows by Oldcastle; Glazing by Guardian
The building is generally composed of three long narrow blocks, set along an east-west campus grid. The structure references typological buildings and their related exterior quadrangle spaces on Rice University’s campus, which stem from an early 1900s masterplan by Boston architect Ralph Adams Cram. "We had this fantasy that, if you could take all of the campus and squish together its long rectangular buildings with its exterior quads, you would combine both formal and informal ways of making connections and learning," said Michael Maltzan, founder of Michael Maltzan Architecture. "In that regard, we were alluding to the Moody as a microcosm of the entire Rice campus." The facade appears quite massive from far away, but as you get closer, it is revealed that the facade is actually quite thin and permeable. This is most apparent through a "floating" outdoor canopy that frames an arcade running parallel along the building's primary north elevation. The facade here is framed by steel and integrates a secondary steel web that spans from the second floor to the roof continuously along the entire facade. This web encloses “lanterns,” or volumetric voids in the massing of the building, and wraps around starburst-shaped columns which bookend the composition. These iconic columns carry the load of the steel and masonry structure at each end of the building. A double angle detail provides a crisp bearing shelf for the brick facade. At the east lantern, the brick surface is installed as screen wall configuration. To achieve this, threaded stainless steel rods were integrated into the hollow cells of the brick units, which were installed in a 1/3 running bond pattern. Andrea Manning, associate at Michael Maltzan Architecture, said this allowed for selective bricks to be omitted, producing a unique perforated floating masonry screen. "It was a technical challenge to make brick work this way while maintaining a light and delicate structure," she said. Maltzan said this building uniquely brings together a lot of programmatic elements they have worked on in the past. "There aren't that many examples of this new type of building whose ambition is to be [a] extremely cross-disciplinary hype-collaborative center where lots of different unexpected individuals, groups, artists, technical people all come together. One of the biggest challenges is to anticipate the wide range of activities that might take place without any of that being determined yet when designing the building. To try and build in the right amount of flexibility without flexibility completely taking over the building in such a significant way that it compromises any parts of the program. Getting this right was a big learning curve for everyone involved on the project." The brick is a dark manganese ironspot brick, which Maltzan says produces a surface that is animated by the dynamic quality of the atmosphere of the site. “Brick often feels like it is very stable and unchangeable. The manganese brick is black, but over the course of the day with changing lighting conditions, it can take on the appearance of metal, deep purple, or sky blue. That quality, along with the thinness of the assembly gives a new reading and character to brick which we are very excited about.” Beyond the facade, at the heart of the Moody is a double-height “Creative Open Studio” that anchors the building in plan and section. This space was imagined by the architects as an interior version of the typical campus quad. “This interior landscape brings the most diverse programmatic functions into contact with one another, while opening views out to the campus,” said Maltzan. The cross-disciplinary building establishes a new arts district on campus, with proximity to the Shepherd School of Music and the James Turrell Twilight Epiphany Skyspace on the Suzanne Deal Booth Centennial Pavilion. The facility will be programmed, but it’s also a place where the public can be inspired, with public shows and free admittance year-round.
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WEISS/MANFREDI’s “Design Loft” connects the university to the city of Kent

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New York City–based WEISS/MANFREDI has designed a new center for Kent State University’s design disciplines. The project was inspired by strong urbanist principles, beginning with the desire to connect the university with nearby downtown Kent. Marion Weiss, co-founder of WEISS/MANFREDI, said of the connection, "The city and the university have gotten together with a revolutionary plan to make a strong link between these two destinations." To achieve this, the architects located the 117,000-square-foot structure along a primary east-west pedestrian esplanade, subtly canting the orientation of the building to maximize a perspectival effect of the corridor.
  • Facade Manufacturer Belden Brick Company (brick); National Enclosure Company (windows, curtainwalls, doors)
  • Architects WEISS/MANFREDI; Richard L. Bowen & Associates (Architect of Record and MEP/FP Engineer of Record)
  • Facade Installer Foti Construction (exterior wall systems); Gilbane Building Company (construction manager)
  • Facade Consultants Weidlinger Associates International (Structural Engineer of Record)
  • Location Kent, OH
  • Date of Completion 2016
  • System Concrete superstructure; curtain wall of insulated glass and aluminum frame; iron-spot brick with custom fin shape; green roof; exposed concrete walls; polished concrete floor; interior glazing; reconstituted oak-veneer millwork
  • Products Ironspot norman brick and custom shapes by Belden; Curtain wall glazing system by National Enclosure Company; Daylighting shade by Mechoshade
A continuous gallery anchors the building’s ground floor, along with a café, gallery, library, 200-seat multi-purpose lecture room, and classrooms to support a broad range of activities on the main level. Above, an expansive 650-seat “design loft” forms the heart of the building’s program alongside an ascending sequence of critique spaces. This open studio concept encourages the mixing of classes, where various disciplines and experience levels can brush up against one another. Michael Manfredi, co-founder of WEISS/MANFREDI, said that establishing an open space where students could see their peers was crucial to the success of the project: "Both Kent [State] and ourselves believe that students learn laterally. You always learn from your colleagues or those just ahead of you. So the openness of this building was really crucial to the ethos of this building. Marion and I both teach, and we've always been surprised at how important this idea of peripheral vision is." The architects' efforts to produce an open learning environment were realized through a reinforced concrete structural system that maximized floor to ceiling heights, long spans, and a durable exposed concrete slab ideal for a workshop environment. The facade is composed of full-size norman bricks installed as a single-wythe brick veneer. This assembly is constructed as a cavity wall on metal studs with brick anchors coordinated with the coursing. Manfredi said their office was inspired by the industrial history of northern Ohio, which is home to a number of brick kilns. “We loved the idea of using brick, which is a very traditional material, but bringing it through the paces of design and thinking about it as a contemporary material.” The ironspot brick units were manufactured locally by the Belden Brick Company which used traditional beehive kilns for the firing process. These types of kilns produce bricks in a range of colors dependent on their location relative to the heat source. “Belden was very open to creating a custom shape with us that would take the tactile expression of the ironspot brick and push it one step further.” Weiss also praised the qualities of this traditional material. “In many contemporary materials, their uniformity isn't tactile. However, the iron spots on these bricks are never in the same place, and they have a slight textural quality to them, which invites touch. At the ground level, we've seen people running their hands along the wall to get the true tactile dimension of it." A predominant feature of the facade is the use of custom, asymmetrically bull-nosed bricks that establish a rhythm along the lengthy building. The fins project a maximum of 4-inches from the facade, a dimension regulated by the structural coursing of the brick units. Anything greater than this would have required additional metal angles. Where these fins pass over window openings, a custom aluminum extrusion with a specular resin finish was specified. This allowed the composition of the facade patterning to operate irrespective of punched ribbon window openings. The spacing of these fin elements are compositional and coordinate with designed control joints and required weeps in the brick facade. The overall pattern and scheme was designed to respond to the building’s glass curtainwall and cantilever conditions. An example of this can be seen on the south and north façades where the pattern is densified in proximity to the most extreme cantilevers to gain an added shadow/light effect. The architects said it was important to the design to slip the fins at floor levels to indicate a scale to the building and to provide a level of animation to the facade. WEISS/MANFREDI also said that using brick was a way for the project to be symbolically and performatively environmental, because the material was sourced locally and literally from the ground. Beyond the facade, the building taps into a geothermal well field and incorporates green roof strategies. The project, which was completed on time for a Fall 2016 opening, is on tract for LEED Platinum certification. Exposing CAED’s efficient building systems was a focus of the project. A central mechanical room remains open for observation by students, and the reinforced concrete structure of the building is exposed. Even the construction process was a learning experience. “The college deserves credit for making the whole construction process visible and transparent,” said Manfredi. “There was a small viewing platform built outside, so that you could always look through the construction fence and see the excavation, the subsurface infrastructure, the pipes for the geothermal field, and then slowly see the building rise.” Weiss says the best time to see this building is from the town of Kent just as the sun is starting to set. With its orientation set slightly askew, the western sun grazes the facades projecting fins, and the building “glows like a lantern.... There's a certain moment where the building dematerializes—where the transparency of glass and solidity of brick becomes illegible.”
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Open-source parametric brick wall “hacks the digital” in Iran

Sstudiomm, an Iranian architecture office founded by Hossein Naghavi, has developed a digital brick laying technique and an open-source DIY kit for architects interested in the system. The project, titled Negative Precision, is the outcome of Naghavi’s independent research into parametrically derived brick laying techniques. Using Kohler and Gramazio’s 2006 robotically programmed wall as a departure point, sstudiomm sought out alternative methods to reproduce the same effect with a limited budget, “in order to make the luxurious reachable for a greater group.” Located in Iran’s historic city of Damavand (roughly 50 miles west of Tehran), the project pulls from traditional brick patterning in the city, most notably Shebeli Tower which dates back to the 10th century. The architects digitally modeled an “X” shaped form that references the decorative brick tower, then worked with Grasshopper to produce a script varying brick rotation. The outcome of the script is essentially a stack bond brick veneer wall where bricks rotate within a calculated 18 degree range to register a patterned "X" form across the facade. Sstudiomm confidently calls this the “simplest grasshopper code ever.” From the digital model, a series of precise stencil templates are produced from lasercut stock aluminum plate. In the field, a plum string helps to establish a start point for each course of bricks. Theoretically by adjusting the reference surface in the script, a new textural patterning will be generated, offering a customizable visual identity for other architects. Sstudiomm says the most significant challenge for the undulated brick veneer wall was the handling of gaps between bricks, which vary by almost an inch. As a brick rotates outward, a larger gap is produced between neighboring bricks. “The gaps are never seen from the front view and from almost all of the perspectives they are hidden by staggering bricks around them. These gaps are providing the financial possibility of having a parametric wall built without a robot.”
  • Facade Manufacturer Heidari brick of Tehran (brick manufacturer)
  • Architects sstudiomm
  • Facade Installer Sadegh Naghavi, Behest construction co. (construction) with sstudiomm
  • Facade Consultants n/a
  • Location Damavand, Iran
  • Date of Completion 2016
  • System Independent self-standing veneer wall connected to the main structure
  • Products Iranian traditional bricks by Heidari, lasercut aluminum stencils
Another challenge for the project team was the dimensional stability of the brick units. For this facade, three different colors and dimensions (from 7.5 inches to 8 inches) are incorporated due to a handmade manufacturing process that yields variation based on heat exposure from location in the kiln. Naghavi says the brick laying method was able to accommodate this diversity by prioritizing a clean starting and ending point at the corners of the facade. “You need to align the outer corner of the brick with inside of the stencil, and that’s all that matters. This will result in a change in the width of the vertical bonds which does not matter because they already are a mess.” Negative Precision challenges a “surplus precision” of digital fabrication, which typically drives up project cost. “A considerable part of building industry functions with lower precision, and uses production methods of the last century. In other words, digital technology is a luxury, though it may not be revealed in the first glance,” said Naghavi in an interview with AN. “Precision fetishism is generally interesting as it is a phenomenon everybody is struggling with in some level, whether in buildings or raising a kid. Apparently as a group of mammals we like organizing, and we are very capable of liking it too much.” By allowing for some degree of error in the translation between his digital model and the built form, Naghavi has prioritized economy over precision, embracing a "lo-fi" approach to digital fabrication: “I avoided an accurate 3-D model, not only for my own laziness, but also for generalizing the design method and unbinding it from the 3-D model. The builder is left on site with a new tool.” Naghavi said his work actually consists of three parallel projects: a building, a method, and a paper. “I think the more we move away from the matter [the built work] toward words, the result becomes more important as it will have a longer life.” Naghavi says the paper has taken more time than the building. “This brick project is a very small outcome of the strategies discussed in the paper.” To continue the discussion, another significant artifact of the project—the 17 lasercut aluminum stencils—are up for sale on sstudiomm's website, which offers a DIY kit geared towards design professionals.
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Awe-inspiring brick canopy erected on the outskirts of Asunción, Paraguay

Located on the outer-edges of Paraguay's capital, Asunción, is a 1,722 square-foot canopy set to inspire all those with a penchant for masonry. Built in the back the yard of a pre-existing dwelling, the monumental canopy comprises, brick, steel, recycled glass, and scrap rubble stretching over a pool, patio and a handful of enclosed spaces that were designed with it. The work is the product of Solano Benítez, Gloria Cabral and Solanito Benítez of Asunción-based firm Gabinete de Arquitectura who named it quincho tía coral. Using cement to bind the broken-down rubble and glass as well as the brick, the canopy rests upon conjoining brick-clad pillars. The resultant triangular form is emulated extensively throughout the design, notably in the canopy's horizontal plane which casts the shape as a shadow onto the patio area during the day. As a result, quincho tía coral acts as a much needed shading device for the open space which is susceptible to temperatures reaching above 90 degrees (worsened by Asunción's constant relative humidity of around 70 percent). The space is ideal for gatherings, barbecues, and family events. At night, the canopy can be seen as an array of tessellating triangles, illuminated by lighting from below. Due to the earthy-red shade of the bricks used, the space maintains a sense of warmth during the evening hours through the dusk sunlight the lighting techniques applied. With generous vegetation found both surrounding and on the premises, the canopy amplifies the serene environment, a welcome contrast to the bustle of nearby Asunción, Paraguay's most populous city.
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KVA Brings Digital Brick to Harvard

Old and new technologies combine in renovated anthropology building.

Tasked with transforming Harvard's 1971 Tozzer Library into a new home for the university's Anthropology Department, Kennedy & Violich Architecture (KVA) faced a unique set of challenges. In addition to balancing the desire for a distinct architectural identity with the building's literal and metaphorical connection to adjacent structures including Peabody Museum, the architects had to accommodate an expanded program within the old library's footprint and structure. As for Tozzer Library's facade, a mold problem and poor environmental performance meant that preserving the brick exterior was never an option. "It's a generic problem of envelopes from buildings that aren't that old, yet can't stand up to contemporary needs," said principal Sheila Kennedy. "What are you going to do with those buildings? The bold approach here was, 'we're going to build on [the existing] value." By stripping Tozzer Library down to its steel and concrete-slab bones, adding space under a two-story copper roof, and wrapping the exterior in a parametrically-designed brick skin, KVA seamlessly negotiated between Harvard's storied past and the mandates of a 21st-century curriculum. Both Kennedy and founding principal J. Frano Violich are quick to dismiss the notion that the problems with the 1971 building, designed by Boston firm Johnson, Hotvedt and Associates, were anything other than a product of their times. "Attitudes toward energy consumption were very different at the time," said Violich. "[Tozzer Library] was built by intelligent people, but everyone's understanding was different from today." In contrast, he said, for the new Tozzer Anthropology Building, "everyone was on top of every [LEED] point." (The project achieved LEED Gold.) KVA began by substituting 6-inch wall studs for the original 2 1/2-inch studs, making way for improved air circulation and insulation. In addition, they eliminated the potential for mold growth by increasing the air gap between the outside sheeting and the back of the brick veneer from 3/4 inches to 2 inches. With the mechanics of the exterior walls in place, "the challenge, aesthetically, was how do we get a sense of both thickness and thinness in the veneer?" said Violich. Luckily, the question of how to breathe new life into flat surfaces was nothing new for the architects. "At KVA we've been very interested in how one designs with contemporary wall systems, with materials that are thin," explained Kennedy. "How do we express their thinness, but by architectural means and devices give them an architectural thickness, manipulate them formally so there can be a game of thin and thick?" In the case of Tozzer Anthropology Building, the answer was a new entrance pavilion with a three-dimensional brick pattern meant to "seem like carved thick brick—like an archeological find," said Kennedy. Drawing upon their early experiments with digital brick, including those at the University of Pennsylvania Law School building, the designers used parametric design software to tie each brick unit to the building's overall form. "As we manipulated the physical form in 3D, we could see various brick patterns that could develop," explained Kennedy. "It was a hybrid of low-tech and high-tech," she said of the process of zeroing in on corbeling, a brick-stacking technique that allows for overhanging layers. The digitally-derived corbeled texture complemented the depth of ornament found elsewhere around Harvard's campus. "We didn't want to make something that was arbitrary and ornamental, but something that was authentic to our time," said Kennedy. To arrive at a final design for the multi-story entrance wall, the architects again combined cutting-edge technology with traditional expertise. "The actual pattern was achieved through physical experimentation," explained Kennedy. "We did a lot of dry stack work with local masons: We would take the designs out of the computer, then pass them to the masons to test. That was a really fun part of the process." KVA then took what they learned from their real-life experiments back into the virtual world, adjusting the digital design accordingly.
  • Facade Manufacturer Kansas Brick (brick), Wasau (glazing)
  • Architects Kennedy & Violich Architecture
  • Facade Installer Consigli (masonry), Gilbert & Becker Roofing (copper)
  • Facade Consultants BuroHappold Engineering
  • Location Cambridge, MA
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • System brick walls, including parametrically-designed corbeled entry pavilion, with high performance glazing and custom copper roof
  • Products 500 Harvard brick from Kansas Brick, Wausau 4250-Z Zero Sightline insert windows, Wasau 6250 S-Series SuperWall curtain wall system
Even the flat facades appear unlike typical brick walls, thanks largely to an unusual window arrangement. "When you're looking at the windows, you're not looking at traditional punch windows, or a strip window with a long relieving angle," said Violich. Rather, the windows are shifted to conceal the vertical control joints in the brick. "That helps defuse the veneer quality that brick sometimes brings on," he explained. The floor-to-floor windows further confound expectations by concealing the plenum and—because they are frameless, and punch out rather than in—appearing as much like light monitors as the actual skylights cut into the building's roofline. Tozzer Anthropology Building's recycled-content copper roof completes the dialogue between thick and thin established on the brick facades. "We worked hard in the massing of the design to give a twist to the building," said Kennedy. "That could really only happen in the two new floors." KVA textured the copper roof with vertical standing seams, again using parametric software to arrange different panel types in a corduroy-like pattern. "A lot of times people think advanced facades are super technical, but we can get lost in the technology and why we're using it," observed Kennedy. "[This project] is a good combination of an aesthetic agenda, an architectural agenda, and a technical agenda." For KVA, Tozzer Anthropology Building represents more than just a repurposed campus building. Rather, it offers a provocative answer to one of today's most pressing questions: how to rectify an inherited aesthetic preference for glass with the current push for improved energy efficiency. "Everybody loves glass—we love transparency in architecture," said Kennedy. "But as we move on in our energy transition, we're going to have to develop new ideas about mass and opacity. How can we go back to a pre-modern time, but create something that is contemporary?"
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This robotic arm by a Swiss architecture firm stacks bricks into lightweight helixes for complex building facades

Research-intensive Swiss architecture firm Gramazio & Kohler has created a robotic arm capable of stacking bricks into a sculptural, helix-like facade that would appear to defy gravity. The facade zigzags across the front of the offices of Swiss brick manufacturer Keller AG Ziegeleien. By stacking bricks at angles to one another in a gentle curvature, the robotic arm makes the bricks appear light and airy. The repetitive-though-intricate task, which would be inordinately difficult though still possible without the robot, is guided by algorithms, without the need for optical reference or measurement. Hence, no extra effort is expended in creating more complex structures, unlike with a human bricklayer. Furthermore, the arm can rotate bricks in multiple directions to create space between each brick, effectively producing curvatures and other complicated shapes. Named ROBmade, the robotic arm assembles and glues the bricks into facade patterns, such as the eye-popping Programmed Wall in Zurich, in which a brick wall was made to visibly billow in and out. Each brick has a hollowed-out honeycomb structure at its center in adherence to a tenet of aerospace design, in which the bulkiest materials in a plane must be kept lightweight. The bricks can be stacked high when connected with adhesive joints. According to Gizmodo, robot-stacked architecture could work on a larger scale by turning the floors of buildings into building blocks – given, especially, the robot’s ability to carry out repetitive complex functions with enormous precision. The firm has experimented extensively with robotic arms for on-site construction and design, touting ROB itself as a mobile fabrication unit that can be transported via container. In 2009, the brick-laying robot made its debut in New York City, part of a project by the Storefront for Art & Architecture to create an undulating brick wall called Pike Loop. Watch the robot in action below. https://vimeo.com/6973740  
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Muñoz & Company Quilt with Glass and Masonry

Envelope inspired by history of Dallas' African-American community.

For the past 20 years, San Antonio–based Muñoz & Company (formerly Kell Muñoz Architects) has focused primarily on what president and CEO Henry Muñoz III calls "the architecture of identity." The bulk of that work, in turn, has been concentrated on the United States–Mexico border, where the architects collaborated with clients in majority-Latino communities.The commission to design Billy Dade Middle School (in a joint venture with KAI Texas) represented a departure from the firm's usual context. "It struck us that this particular campus had such a rich history and location—in the urban core of the city, and an area where the African-American community has been so important, historically," recalled Muñoz. "It was a great opportunity to explore what that means in the 21st century." Working closely with local residents, Muñoz & Company settled on the metaphor of a quilt, announcing the school's commitment to culturally attuned education with a translucent facade in multicolored glass and illuminated brick. Much of the preparation for the project took place outside the studio. "We approached it not just as designers, but in a more scholarly fashion," said Muñoz. The architects researched the school's namesake—educator, parent, and activist Dr. Billy Earl Dade—through interviews with family members and colleagues as well as archival materials found in a local museum. The linchpin of the design, however, fell into place at a dinner event Muñoz attended. There he asked Claudine Brown, assistant secretary for education and access at the Smithsonian Institution, to help him brainstorm a symbol of cultural identity in the African-American community, one that could help inspire young minds. "Immediately, with no hesitation, she said, 'I think you should look at quilts,'" said Muñoz. As the conversation and further research progressed, he learned that quilts have been used to tell stories, as visual signposts for safety, and as subtle acts of resistance—as well as to meet a basic need for warmth. In addition, said Muñoz, "We found superb artistry, [including] quilting collectives that keep the tradition alive."
  • Facade Manufacturer Trulite (curtain walls and glazing), Pac-Clad (metal panel system)
  • Architects Muñoz & Company/KAI Texas LLC
  • Facade Installer Denison Glass & Mirror (curtain walls and glazing), City Masonry (masonry), J&J Roofing (metal), Satterfield & Pontikes Construction (general contractor)
  • Location Dallas, TX
  • Date of Completion 2013
  • System multicolored glass curtain walls, masonry with transparent glass inserts, metal panels
  • Products Trulite aluminum curtain wall system, Pac-Clad metal panel system, brick from Blackson Brick Co.
On the school's exterior, the architects expressed the quilt metaphor with multicolored glass walls fronting diagonal bays. Beyond the reference to quilts as cultural artifacts, the pattern projects a belief in the community's resilience. "That glass wall is an important way of expressing how anything can be woven together," said Muñoz. A patchwork rhythm recurs more subtly in the facade's brick walls, where transparent glass elements preserve a sense of openness. "At night, when the glass curtain wall is so transparent—like a lantern—you also get a sense of that in the brick wall," he explained. The entrance canopy, clad primarily in metal, deepens the material diversity of the building envelope, underlining the design's focus on inclusiveness. "You should be able to be yourself as you walk under it," said Muñoz. The quilt theme continues throughout the interior, notably in the tiled floors (inspired by the work of quilting cooperative Gee's Bend), displays of text from Dade's writings, quilts commissioned for the library, and a collection of salvaged doors lining the lobby walls. "Dade was a really strong mentor in an intergenerational fashion," explained Muñoz. We looked at a speech he made about opportunity and thought, 'What if we harvested doors from the neighborhood?' So in the lobby you see this patchwork of doors, meant to be doors of opportunity." Built to meet Dallas Independent School District's stringent environmental standards, Billy Dade "combined [environmental] sustainability with the idea of cultural sustainability," explained Muñoz. Though in keeping with the firm's track record of community-based design, the project was nonetheless a learning opportunity for the architects. "This was the first time that we've [designed] a school that is multicultural in a different way than what we've been used to working with," he said. "While the population was different, I hope people found something that they can see themselves in."
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This miniature Italian Gothic cathedral by Pratt alum Ryan McAmis gets every teeny tiny detail right

The devil is in the microscopic details in this miniature model of an Italian gothic cathedral by illustrator and graphic designer Ryan McAmis. The Pratt Institute alum has built the Renaissance interior and exterior from scratch with arresting realism, right down to the furnishings, wall tombs, and iconic paintings. The Brooklyn-based artist used materials from hand-scribed brickwork on treated paper, to clay and wood for the most true-to-life effect. He then combines all the materials and creates a silicon mold to strengthen it and casts the pieces in white plastic, which he then hand paints. To achieve the correct scale, the artist mapped out the structure using computer vector modeling. He reverts again to the computer to render the stained-glass windows, which he lays out on Photoshop and then prints on a transparency. He then uses a small clay tool to burnish every little piece and give it the appearance of regular panes of 600-year-old leaded glass. The granite flooring, too, is designed on Photoshop and printed on archival paper. The paper is then glued to the floor, varnished, and sanded several times, while the clay tool is again enlisted to scribe the tiles. Most enrapturing of all is the apse – the very back of the cathedral beneath which the high altar sits – clad in ultramarine blue and gold stars inspired by the ceiling in the Scrovegni Chapel in Veneto, Italy, painted by Giotto Bondone. “Blue was the most expensive color in the late medieval period. It was made from Lapiz Lazuli imported from Afghanistan,” McAmis writes on his website. Meanwhile, the wall tomb in the apse is inspired by Renaissance funerary monuments, such as Bernardo Rossellino’s design for the tomb of Leonardo Bruni in the church of Santa Croce in Florence. The top of McAmis' wall tomb bears the bust of St. Mark’s, flanked by busts of Putto at the corners. Inside the church are fixtures such as the Savonarola, a Renaissance folding chair, and a miniature framed painting of the Madonna and child. In an interview with Daily Mini, McAmis revealed that while he would love to install an operative secret passage or gargoyle fountain, inside the funerary wall monuments are hidden mementos of his recently deceased cat, Leo – a fang, a bundle of whiskers and a lock of fur.
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Mecanoo Brings Dutch Craftsmanship to Boston

Curving brick and glass facade heralds Roxbury's resurgence.

By locating their new administrative building in beleaguered Roxbury, Boston Public Schools [BPS] made a powerful statement of faith in the area's resurgence."Bringing the BPS right into the heart of Roxbury anchors the redevelopment of the neighborhood," explained Friso van der Steen, manager of international projects at Mecanoo. The Dutch architects collaborated with local firm Sasaki Associates on the project—their first built in the United States—which involved renovating the facades of three historic buildings and weaving them into a coherent whole with a new volume. Described by Mecanoo as "a Bostonian building with a Dutch touch," the structure's curving brick and glass envelope projects a hopeful future for Dudley Square. When Mecanoo and Sasaki won the competition to design the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building in 2009, the largely vacant site in Dudley Square, Roxbury's commercial and transportation hub, "contained a number of derelict buildings," recalled van der Steen. These included the 1895 Ferdinand building, which was to be integrated into the project. The architects convinced Mayor Thomas Menino to add two other historic structures to their portfolio: the 1888 Curtis building, and the 1890 Waterman building. "This allowed a design inclusive of the three corners of the triangular plot," said van der Steen. In cooperation with preservation consultants Building Conservation Associates, Mecanoo and Sasaki completely restored the facades of the three existing buildings, each of which was built in a different style. The five-story Ferdinand was constructed of limestone, terra cotta, brick, and granite, and is characterized by large oval windows at the corners and ends of the building, plus a large copper ornamental cornice adorned with cast lions' heads. The red brick Curtis was built in the Queen Anne style, while the Boston Granite Waterman features copper bay windows brought up to snuff by the renovation team.
  • Facade Manufacturer Endicott
  • Architects Mecanoo and Sasaki Associates
  • Facade Installer Grande Masonry
  • Facade Consultant Building Conservation Associates (restoration)
  • Location Boston, MA
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • System brick laid in three finishes and bonds with vertical punched windows
  • Products Medium Ironspot #46 bricks in smooth, velour, and artisan finish, supplied by Spaulding Brick Company
For the new volume, the architects looked both to the surrounding urban fabric and to their own strengths. "Boston has a very rich tradition of using brick," said van der Steen. "Coming from 'the clay country,' The Netherlands, we have used brick in many projects, and we really wanted to use it here to show off the craftsmanship that goes into bricklaying." Working with Iron Spot brick in three different finishes—smooth, velour, and artisan—the design team deployed a variety of bonds—running, stack, and soldier—to create delicate reliefs and shadow effects. "Mecanoo and Sasaki spent a lot of time and effort to design an inviting, permeable public space," said van der Steen. Vertical punch windows render the curving brick facades of the new volume permeable, while the transparent entry invites residents to take advantage of the community resources (including a neighborhood gathering space and facilities for obtaining informal business guidance). A sixth-floor roof deck overlooking downtown Boston makes a visual connection to the city center, and the illuminated mechanical penthouse serves as an orientation point after dark. From the beginning, said van der Steen "we wanted to make one building that united the three old facades. While the historic buildings maintain the feel and scale of Dudley Square, the central volume injects a powerful, tacit modern aesthetic." The word "tacit" is key, he explained, as the discreet character of the undulating brick and glass envelope introduces the new while remaining deferential to the old. "Together, these elements create a rich texture both physically and conceptually, a stepped form which respects the historic volumes of the original buildings."
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Ag School Update by Urbahn Architects

Concrete, glass, and brick facade balances the promises of the future with respect for the past.

When Farmingdale State College administrators commissioned Urbahn Architects to design a new building for the School of Business, they positioned it as a beacon for the school's shift in focus from agriculture to science and technology. But the architects saw a second opportunity in the project: a chance to restore some of the coherence lost during successive campus expansions.
  • Facade Manufacturer Taktl (fiber-reinforced concrete), Kawneer (curtain wall), Mitsubishi Plastics (ACM), Redland Brick and Belden Tri-State Building Materials (brick)
  • Architects Urbahn Architects
  • Facade Installer Kenneth J. Herman (fiber-reinforced concrete, ACM), EC Contracting (curtain wall), Giaquinto Masonry (brick)
  • Location Farmingdale, NY
  • Date of Completion 2015
  • System concrete composite panels alternating with glazing, curtain walls, aluminum composite panels, brick
  • Products Taktl custom white composite panels, ALPOLIC ACM panels, Kawneer curtain walls, brick
"While the building mission, program, and design look forward, the facade includes gestures that preserve its connection with the college's roots," explained Urbahn's Peter Verne. With a high-performance envelope characterized by a checkerboard pattern of concrete composite panels and glazing, the School of Business building achieves a delicate balance between FSC's history and its future. Besides housing the first classrooms on campus equipped with cutting-edge audiovisual technology, the School of Business was designed to foster a new, conversational mode of exchange among faculty and students. "The dean felt strongly that the building should promote casual interaction" among its users, said Verne. To this end, the architects arranged the faculty offices along the front of the building, directly across a circulation spine from the classrooms. The main facade's variable array of Taktl panels and windows "was designed to reflect the office program," said Verne. "The vertical orientation of the panels and glazing suggests a series of smaller spaces within, akin to monastic cells." Urbahn developed the pattern of solids and voids "through a combination of rigor and intuition," he explained, adjusting the window widths to animate the face of the building. The building's larger glazed elements provide visual connections to the historic FSC campus. A full-height curtain wall on the main facade looks out to The Mall, the main academic quadrangle, whose coherence was compromised by the demolition of an older structure. Meanwhile, curtain wall-clad cantilevered lounges at the northeast end of the building, which Verne described as "contemplative treetop-level spaces," face the original heart of the college, including the central ellipse and ornamental gardens. "While past development has steadily moved campus activity to the south and west, this gesture is intended to help reconnect the campus population with its origins and re-energize the historic campus center," said Verne. At the main entrance to the School of Business, a free-standing elevator shaft wrapped in faceted metal panels projects from the facade, reinforcing the exchange between interior and exterior. Urbahn selected the envelope's materials to refer back to different stages of campus growth. "We chose to respect [the historic] palette, updated to reflect a modern understanding of building expression and current building technology," said Verne. The classroom facade, whose horizontal emphasis—delivered through a cantilevered third floor—distinguishes it from the office facade, is clad in brick to echo the first buildings constructed at FSC. Charcoal mica finish aluminum composite (ACM) panels surrounding the stairs and elevator shaft similarly draw on the earliest era of campus building. The material's "iridescence reflects that of the slate roofs on the nearby historic buildings," explained Verne. Even the concrete composite facade was inspired by historic precedent, namely the Brutalist buildings constructed at FSC during the 1960s and 70s. Throughout their exploration of FSC history, the architects nonetheless remained committed to the dean's goal of reinventing academic dialogue. "I love how much the building design both shapes and is shaped by social interaction," said Verne. "Ever since the main facade began to take its final configuration, I've enjoyed imagining the negotiations between professors and administration over who gets the offices with the bigger windows."