Boston Valley Terra Cotta restored the Alberta Legislature Building's century-old dome using a combination of digital and traditional techniques.Restoring a century-old terra cotta dome without blueprints would be a painstaking process in any conditions. Add long snowy winters and an aggressive freeze/thaw cycle, and things start to get really interesting. For their reconstruction of the Alberta Legislature Building dome, the craftsmen at Boston Valley Terra Cotta had a lot to think about, from developing a formula for a clay that would stand up to Edmonton’s swings in temperatures, to organizing just-in-time delivery of 18,841 components. Their answer? Technology. Thanks to an ongoing partnership with Omar Khan at the University at Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning, the Orchard Park, New York, firm’s employees are as comfortable with computers as they are with hand tools. On site in Edmonton, technicians took a 3D laser scan of the dome prior to disassembly. They also tagged specific terra cotta pieces to send to New York as samples. These pieces, which ranged from simple blocks to gargoyles and capitals, went straight to the in-house lab for scanning into Rhino. The drafting department combined the overall scan with the individual scans to create a total picture of the dome’s surface geometry and depth. The individual scans, in addition, were critical to making the approximately 508 unique molds employed on the project. To compensate for the eight percent shrinkage clay goes through during drying and firing, the craftsmen at Boston Valley used to have to perform a series of calculations before building a mold. “[Now we] take the scan data and increase by eight percent by simply doing a mouse click,” said Boston Valley national sales manager Bill Pottle. In some cases, the craftsmen converted the scan data into a tool path for the five-axis CNC machine used to make the molds. “We’re doing that more and more in some of our mold making. It also allows us to ensure that we’re recreating them to the most exacting tolerance and dimensions that we can,” said Pottle. The data from the 3D scans also helped the craftsmen replicate the dome’s complicated curvature. “Between the scanned pieces and the scan of the dome itself, we were able to figure out some very complex geometry where each of these individual pieces had the correct shape to them,” said Pottle. For sustainability and durability, the designers at Boston Valley reconfigured the dome as a rain screen system, with terra cotta components attached to a stainless steel frame. But while the rain screen boosts environmental performance, it also demands incredible precision. Again, the 3D models proved invaluable. “The models allowed these tight tolerances. [We] could explode it and make sure everything was connected. It would have been impossible without that level of sophisticated software,” said president John Krouse. The Alberta Legislature Building dome restoration is the first major project on which Boston Valley has unleashed its full array of digital design tools. Krouse hopes its success—he estimates that the digital tools speeded fabrication by 200 percent—will send a message to designers interested in experimenting with terra cotta: “What we’re trying to say to the architecture and design community globally is don’t be afraid to start designing domes with complex geometry, because we’re equipped with all this technology. It doesn’t have to be a square box.”
Posts tagged with "Canada":
StructureCraft fabricates an orchid-shaped roof that supports vegetation and Living Building Challenge principles.After serving patrons at one of Vancouver’s oldest botanical gardens for nearly 100 years, the VanDusen Gardens Visitors Centre had fallen dangerously into disrepair. Perkins+Will Canada conceived of a new, orchid-shaped center that meets CaGBC’s LEED Platinum ratings, and is the country’s first structure to target the International Living Building Challenge with features like geothermal boreholes, a 75-square meter photovoltaic array, and a timber roof that supports vegetation. To help fabricate the wooden structure to Perkins + Will Canada’s vision, the team contracted StructureCraft, a Vancouver-based design-build studio specializing in timber craftsmanship and structural solutions. Initial designs for the 19,000-square-foot building were delivered to StructureCraft as Rhino files. The uniquely shaped rooftop, which mimics an outline of the indigenous British Columbia orchid, had to be economically fabricated in a way that took net carbon effects into account. Within Rhino plugins—mainly Grasshopper—and with the help of strucutral engineers Fast + Epp, the StructureCraft team sliced the shape of the building into 71 long, curved panels of repeatable geometries. “Each curve is unique, so there’s a different radii for each beam,” said Lucas Epp, a structural engineer who worked on the project. “We optimized the global geometry of the roof so the radii of all the beams were in our fabrication tolerances but still achieved the architect’s desired aesthetic.” Also within Rhino, the team integrated all of the building’s services into each of the panels. Since much of the piping and wiring for other trades like insulation, sprinklers, and electric utilize flexible formats and conduits, modularizing the panels significantly reduced site time from months, to weeks. And to protect the wooden structures, moisture barriers and closed-cell thermal insulation were applied throughout. The parametric model was then imported to Solids modeling software to develop a bespoke fastening system. StructureCraft used jig and table sawing methods to mill panels of Glulam, chosen for its flexibility and strength. Timber battens were affixed as cladding in sizes that were thin enough to naturally accommodate the curves of each panel. Solid timber support columns, carved on StructureCraft’s in-house lathe, taper at both ends to Perkins + Will Canada’s design specifications. Business development engineer Brian Woudstra, who worked on the project, attributed the accuracy of fabrication and the speed of installation to the expansive capabilities of parametric modeling. “We could model every joist, Glulam panel, and ceiling batten to help with conflict detection and feasibility,” he said. “We always prefabricate our projects in our shop, so it’s like a kit of assemblies that all clicks into place.”
At the beginning of the 19th century, the city of Edmonton was considered one of Canada’s most important rail hubs. For over two decades the trains that once made Edmonton a prominent center of economic activity have ceased to run along those tracks, and the historic freight yard has remained vacant. Over the years a prominent old overpass connecting 97th Street to Edmonton’s downtown rail yards has morphed into a poorly finished, unattractive concrete pedestrian walkway and bicycle path. This weekend designers Chelsea Boos, Carmen Douville, and Erin Ross, will begin working on a project to revitalize the historic landmark. According to the Edmonton Journal the artists, with the help of a group of volunteers, will bring the bridge back to life by planting 25 circular raised beds filled with vibrant flowers, indigenous plants, and edible crops from which visitors can actually pick fruit from. The trio aims to transform the old bridge into an open public garden that will continue to attract cyclists and pedestrians as well as provide local residence with a green outdoor space to relax while enjoying views of downtown and Chinatown. The project, which is undeniably resonant of New York City’s High Line, aims to bring community members together through the creation of a mural painting and future events that will be hosted on the site. Despite the rough neighborhood surrounding the bridge, the designers, who are passionate about urban projects dedicated to improving city life, insist on leaving the park open to the public in the hopes that visitors will be respectful of the property and even be inclined to help maintain it.
Starchitects are descending on Toronto. First it was Frank Gehry with his plan for three 80-story skyscrapers on top of an art museum, and now Norman Foster with a massive plan to redevelop the Metro Toronto Convention Centre area adjacent to the CN Tower and Rogers Centre Stadium. Developed by Oxford Properties Group and dubbed Oxford Place, the plan calls for upgrades to the current convention center and four new towers for housing, office space, a hotel, and a casino surrounding a five-and-a-half acre park spanning a railroad. An Intercontinental Hotel on the northeastern corner of the site would be demolished and replaced by two large towers containing a combined 3.1 million square feet of office and residential space atop one million square feet of retail and a massive 4,000-car parking structure. While site renderings are marked as illustrative massing diagrams, some have noted the resemblance of the two towers to Foster's proposal for the World Trade Center, nicknamed the "kissing towers." Overall, Oxford Place's 7.35 million square feet is expected to cost $3 billion, but is contingent on approval of the casino. The City of Toronto must give the final go-ahead before the casino can move forward. [Via Urban Toronto.]
Three winning designs to be fabricated by Brooklyn-based Flatcut.This October, winners of the ACADIA (Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture) design and fabrication competition will show off their parametric chops as part of the organization’s annual conference, now in its 30th year. Announced last week, winners were chosen from 15 finalists by a jury that included Tod Williams of TWBTA, Chris Sharples of SHoP Architects, Tom Wiscombe of Emergent, Dror Benshetrit of Studio Dror, and Thomas Christoffersen of BIG. The competition sought designs in three categories—furniture, partitions, and lighting—and entrants were encouraged to propose hybrid material assemblies that minimized waste and maximized material performance. Tomer Ben-Gal, founder of Brooklyn-based fabrication studio and competition co-sponsor Flatcut, served as technical advisor. Flatcut will fabricate the winning designs in its 100,000-square-foot Passaic, New Jersey, machine shop before they are sent to the conference, held at the University of Calgary, where they will be displayed from October 11-16. Furniture: RECIP Designs in the furniture category had to be produced using two sheets of flat materials, one rigid and one flexible, no larger than 5 feet by 10 feet. Any material that would be available for sourcing by Flatcut was considered valid. The winning design, RECIP, is a modular furniture system by three students at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Environmental Design. The project explores scoring techniques applied to 1/8-inch-thick recycled rubber, which is then folded into self-reinforcing and interlocking toothed panels and laminated to heavyweight felt batting. The team showed judges how the rigid yet flexible system could be folded into chairs, tables, shelving, or spatial dividers, then dismantled and recycled at the end of its life. “I think what attracted us [to RECIP] innately in a contemporary way is the fusion of two different materials and the way they performed together,” said competition judge Tom Wiscombe in his comments. “It involved certain types of techniques, like fusing, melting and different modes of manufacturing rather than using a single known tooling process.” Click here to see a PDF of the project boards. Partition: Hyperlaxity Partition category designs were permitted to use three 5-by-10-foot sheets of material to build their designs. The winner, Hyperlaxity: Parabolic Ligaments, was a collaboration between SOM’s Elizabeth Boone and PROJECTiONE design and fabrication studio founded by Adam Buente and Kyle Perry in 2010. The design uses aluminum components, including hundreds of v-clips, o-rings, i-bars, and triangular plates, joined by hexagonal silicone tendons with slits that allow the material to stretch over the aluminum pieces. Judge Dror Benshetrit said the non-modular form pushed parametric design. “I like how technically the inner rings, together with the other shapes create different opposite hexagon forms,” he said. Click here to see a PDF of the project boards. Lighting: Luminescent Limacon Like the furniture category, designs in the lighting category had to be produced using two sheets of rigid and flexible materials within the machine-able dimensions. Inspired in part by the fanciful linen collars of 17th-century Europe, the winning design is made with folded and nested ruffles of laser-cut 3form Ecoresin held together with a lattice of aircraft suspension cable, which produces tensile and compressive forces to create the light’s structural stability. Designer Andrew Saunders, an assistant professor of architecture Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, derived the pendant’s shape from a Limacon curve. The variables of this equation can be changed to produce different lighting effects based on conditions and performance criteria. “That it is two systems, one of a surface system and one of a kind of vector, is what I think together makes it look so beautiful and elegant,” commented Wiscombe. Click here to see the project boards.
Architecture in Uniform: Designing and Building for the Second World War Canadian Centre for Architecture 1920, rue Baile Montréal, Québec, Canada Through September 18 How did World War II impact the built environment? This new exhibit curated by Jean-Louis Cohen explores how 20th century architects contributed to the war efforts and how their work ultimately led to the modern structural and technological innovations that make some of today’s complex designs possible. WWII was an accelerator of technological innovation, and from 1937 to 1945 architects were frequently pressed to pursue the most modern solutions, which often meant the most cutting edge. Designed by New York-based WORKac, the exhibit is comprised of drawings, photographs, posters, books, publications, models, historical documents, and films that reveal how contemporary architecture left its mark on the landscapes of both the Axis and the Allied powers. Organized thematically, the exhibition focuses on wartime activity as well as architects and their projects in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, the United States, and the USSR. Architecture in Uniform is part of a larger project at the CCA that examines the various roles of architecture from the Second World War to today called On the Natural History of Destruction.
Urban Archaeology. Our friends at Rustwire show us that there can be a kind of mournful beauty in industrial decay, as seen in a photo essay of defunct Ohio steel mills by Paul Grilli. The amazing images are part of a series by the Youngstown-based photographer, who is working to document every steel mill in the area. Hot Chile. Inhabitat tells us that, aside from the Fenix capsule used to rescue trapped miners in October 2010, Chile can now boast of another design innovation that will benefit mine workers. In an effort to shield them from the relentless heat and sun of the Atacama Desert region, AATA Architects has come up with a motel-like residence made of shipping containers. And that's not even the coolest part - they plan to cover the entire complex with a huge canvas roof to protect the men from the harsh environment. Who's the Boss? Design Observer ponders who architects are really working for. The potential for tension between designers, financiers and sometimes communities is nothing new. But adding a tyrannical dictator to the equation makes the question all the more compelling, especially when that dictatorial regime might misuse the involvement of a name-brand starchitect to purchase a "commodity of cultural acumen." Suburban Poor. Poverty isn't just an inner-city problem. Planetizen brings news that the suburban city of Mississauga, Ontario is trying to come up with ways to best reach those populations that it deems underserved. Borrowing an idea from nearby Toronto, they want to identify 'priority neighborhoods' that are in need of access to services.
When CAD rose up in the '80s and began replacing hand-drawing as the preferred means of rendering architecture-to-be, practitioners began decrying the death of the field. Obviously that was not the case, but in our increasingly digitized age/culture/lives, where sexy renderings predominate (to the cost of real architectural discourse, some might say, and probably rightly) on blogs and, uh, architectural websites and beyond, videos are becoming an increasingly important component of the process of placemaking. Or at least competitionwinning, as the above video by SPF:architects shows. When we first turned it up on Curbed today, we were taken aback by the lengths (some might call it desperation, but in these hard times, who can blame them) the firm had gone to to convince the judges of the worthiness of their entry in a competition to design Calgary's new Cantos project, billed as the only "national music centre" in Canada. Turns out, though, all entrants had to produce a video, including Diller Scofidio+Renfro, allied works architecture, Atelier Jean Nouvel, and the lone Canadian firm, Montreal's Saucier + Perotte. Since the LA-based SPF's is naturally Hollywood flashy, how do the other four stack up? Hey! We recognize that cut-out. Rip off! Playing the buildings? Where have we seen that before? For a Pritzker Prize-winner, this sure is chintzy. Dig the tunes.