Amazon renderings released this week in a Seattle design review board meeting would have made the late Buckminster Fuller proud. They reveal new plans for an additional structure on the proposed three-block, three-tower Amazon complex in downtown Seattle: three five-story conjoined biodomes up to 95 feet tall, with the largest 130 feet in diameter. These glass and steel domes, envisioned by local firm NBBJ, would provide 65,000 square feet of interior flex work and brainstorm areas for Amazon employees, while leaving abundant space to accommodate trees and diverse plantings. Inspiration came from nature found indoors—in greenhouses, conservatories, and convention centers around the world. From Renzo Piano’s “Bolla” in Genoa, to the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken in Brussels. (Fun fact: the largest dome in the United States—an indoor sports arena—is in fact in Washington State, in Tacoma, a city south of Seattle.) Far from ordinary, the design, still in design review, have stirred a spectrum of reactions from Seattleites—excitement, as well as criticism. With the exception of lower-level retail space, the biodomes would be open to Amazon workers only. It's an unusual move for a company that has kept a low profile in Seattle. See more here.
Posts tagged with "Domes":
Rockaway Beach, the waterfront community severely battered by Hurricane Sandy, is now the site of MoMA PS1's geodesic dome, a temporary cultural center offering lectures, exhibits, performances, and community events. PS1 kicked off the opening of the VW Dome 2 last Friday with a performance by singer Patti Smith, a fellow Rockaways resident. The museum will collaborate with local organizations in Queens to provide a range of programming over the next few months. The VW Dome 2 is part of a larger upcoming exhibit, EXPO 1: NEW YORK, that will present a variety of ideas and strategies to create a more sustainable waterfront. Last month, MoMA PS1 called on artists, architects, and designers to submit 3-minute video proposals that address relevant issues such as shoreline protections, community engagement, and climate change. The 25 winning submissions will be on view within the next month. Of course, this discussion would be incomplete and shortsighted without the feedback from the local community. Kevin Boyle, editor of The Wave, and Ideas Wanted-columnist Rick Horan have set up a video camera inside the VW Dome 2 and invited residents to participate in a conversation about the recovery efforts and needs of the Rockaways. The first Open Camera Session took place on Saturday, but locals will have another opportunity to offer their input tonight between 6:30 and 8:30 PM. The VW Dome 2 is located at the southern end of the parking lot between Beach 94th and Beach 95th Streets.
Oklahoma City just cannot tear down its architectural landmarks fast enough! The city and its developer community have been trying to do away with John Johansen's famous Mummers Theater and now David Box, a local developer, wants to get rid of a unique geodesic dome built in 1958 on Route 66. The developer—who claims among other things that the roof leaks and "you can't just call a normal roofer and say hey we got a geodesic dome here can you fix it"—will give anyone who wants the dome a $100,000 bonus to take it off his property so he can fill it in and "make it safe." The structure was originally built to house a bank and has been declared eligible to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2002 and was designed by local architects Bailey, Bozalis, Dickinson, and Roloff based on Buckminster Fuller's patented dome.
Walking into the large, egg-like structure of the MoMA Ps1 Performance Dome, the German electronic band Kraftwerk's song "Man-Machine" was the perfect accompaniment to the architecture. Their music represents the kind of progressive attitude towards materials (instruments) and aesthetics (sounds) that is captured perfectly in the temporary structure. A shiny, white, geodesic dome reminiscent of fellow early techno-fetishist Buckminster Fuller, the space features a super-high-fidelity sound system, 8 screens projecting various computer art, and not much else. It is the ideal pairing of minimalism and technology with Kraftwerk's slick electronic melodies. Completely white on the inside and out, the dome is like a default setting, its tabula-rasa interior serving as the screen for 8 large projections approximately 15 feet off the ground, which are large enough to capture your attention and hold it. Each performance can start over, with its own tailored set of videos or images. The dome itself is almost blank, the speakers and projectors creating the spatial experience. The depth of sound that these speakers produces creates a voluminous soundscape. The nature of the dome is that there is quite a bit of extra space at the top, so the space is left half filled with the sounds of the performance and accompanying projections. These projections form a ring, and the dome is at its best when the lights are low enough to obscure the actual structure. The ring of projections then becomes the ceiling, like a spectacular cathedral to performance, or a futuristic, cosmic Pantheon. Instead of a single screen located behind the stage, these eight projections are arranged radially, on one surface, maintaining a spectacular sense of scale, but providing little spatial context. It is easy to get lost, disoriented. Everywhere around the circular stage is almost exactly the same, and you are left subject to only two 'architectural' forces: the speakers, and the videos, both of which are arranged in a equidistant, radial pattern. The user is transposed into one of Kraftwerk's visions, into a momentary place where technology becomes the only mediator of space and body and the building disappears. The electronic elements of performance become the spatial experience. The dome is a moving take on the immaterial, ephemeral nature of performance art, and stands as a high-water mark for museums presenting multidisciplinary work.
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A research project explores techniques from the past to learn about building stronger structures in the futureSometimes research involves destruction in the name of creation. Architects and engineers from Zurich-based BLOCK Research Group at science and technology university ETH Zurich recently teamed up to build, and destroy, a vaulted masonry structure that was designed with advanced digital fabrication methods but constructed with traditional timbrel, or Catalan, thin-tile vaulting techniques. Through its research of freeform shells, tiling patterns, building sequences, and formwork, the group hopes to construct increasingly radical forms without sacrificing efficiency. Now rarely used, centuries-old timbrel vaulting methods were commonly employed in Spanish architecture and in many Beaux Arts landmarks. The form is known in the United States as a Guastavino vault after the Spanish architect Rafael Guastavino, who patented a version of the system in 1885. Traditionally, the vaults’ structural form followed a lightweight wooden structure that would guide the mason as he placed tiles. Using Thrust Network Analysis (TNA), a new form-finding method, the BLOCK group has created new possibilities for freeform vaulted shapes that can be constructed using a continuous cardboard formwork system. After creating irregular geometries with TNA, the researchers establish the shape of edge arches, close in the adjacent surfaces, breaking the pattern with a groin vault to begin another arch section. The group also aims to show that recyclable and reusable cardboard formwork could dramatically reduce the material and labor costs of construction while making complex vaults possible. Fabricated with a 2-D CAD-CAM cutting and gluing process and assembled on site, the formwork for the group’s Catalan prototype was supported by a system of stacked shipping pallets. These reduced the amount of cardboard used and allowed the unrolled cardboard pattern to fit the CNC equipment’s size requirements. The team implemented custom RhinoScripts to translate the self-supporting vault surface into machine code to produce 200 cardboard boxes. The group also discusses techniques for cutting tiles to be used in the prototype vault in its research paper, available here: “The most ideal cutting logic for the high double-curvature of the prototype vault would be a two-cut system, employing a combination of oblique and bevel cuts to ‘bend’ a surface in space.” Because of the tool constraints on this project, the team developed a simplified version of the cutting system that allowed for curvature in one axis of the tile while relying on hinging and the mortar joint to achieve a double curvature. Removing the formwork from the surface of the shell, also called de-centering, was another critical step. The supporting structure had to be removed all at once to avoid asymmetrical loading from below, which could cause the vault to bend and crack. In order to allow the formwork to lower slowly from the masonry surface, the frame sat on a series of sealed plastic tubes containing cardboard spacers consisting of a folded stack of cardboard sheets taped together. The team calculated the dry compressive strength of the spacers to carry the load of the shell, the pallet and box framework, and the masons. But once the vault was complete, the tubes were filled with water, which saturated the cardboard and caused it to compress under the load of shipping pallets. After successfully de-centering the structure, the team tested its strength, adding more than three pallets of sandbags to its surface before it finally collapsed. BLOCK’s future work will seek to streamline the TNA form-finding process as well as improve the efficiency of its construction techniques, ultimately working to identify design criteria like maximum vault curvatures with a range of tile sizes and patterns.
City of Scientists. Russian Prime Minister Putin has recently reviewed plans for a potential $6.4 billion project that could build a 5,000-person—scientists and researchers, specifically—domed village in the Arctic called Umka, about 1,000 miles from the North Pole. Plans call for an isolated artificial climate inspired by “an imaginary Moon city or a completely isolated space station." More on the Daily Mail and Foreign Policy Blogs. Abu Dhabi Adjourned. The new 450,000-square-foot Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim museum planned in Abu Dhabi has been put on hold pending contract review. A similar fate awaits Jean Nouvel's Louvre satellite previously scheduled to open near Gehry's site next year. More at Mediabistro. Sergey's Secret. Due to his prolific work ethic, the insider joke at Google is that co-founder Sergey Brin is really Batman. More believable, the latest Google rumor is that one of Brin's secret pet-projects may very well be architectural, with blueprints and all. Business Insider has details. No bin, no trash. The NY Times reports on the MTA's seemingly counter-intuitive enviro-social experiment to remove trash cans from subway platforms. The idea: no garbage bin might be the way to achieve no litter. A trial run in Queens and Greenwich Village left some people very unhappy.