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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Kreysler & Associates' Joshua Zabel knows more than a thing or two about collaborating with architects to produce complex facades. "On the design side, increasingly complex projects call for earlier and earlier involvement from us for material and fabrication input," said Zabel. "With increasing frequency we're being called on by architects to contribute during SD and DD phases." Zabel will share the fabricator's perspective on teamwork in high performance envelope design and construction later this week at Facades+AM Seattle. His co-presenters on "Digital Collaborations: Applications, Realities and Opportunities in the Delivery of Complex Facades" include Jeffrey Vaglio (Enclos), David Sandinsky (NBBJ) and Marne Zahner (Magnusson Klemencic Associates). Digital design tools play a critical role in enabling an ongoing dialogue between designers and fabricators, said Zabel. "There's obviously a lot to be said for the ability to pass a 3D model back and forth or share drawings on a screen in real time with someone thousands of miles away," he explained. "It seems easy to forget it wasn't anywhere near as fluid, say, 15 years ago." More specifically, said Zabel, "It's interesting to me when we're able to communicate with architects at the level of programming the toolpath strategy for making molds with our CNC machine. Everything about that notion is enhanced by the collaborative use of technology." Zabel compares contemporary developments in design and fabrication technology to the introduction of another collaborative tool: the telephone. "CAD and digital fabrication processes are such useful tools for construction and collaboration, I imagine one day, like the telephone, we won't marvel at how useful it is, we'll just take it for granted," he said. At the same time, there remains room for improvement. Construction documentation standards, for instance, often necessitate creating traditional 2D models that are "simply impractical" in particularly complex cases such as SFMOMA rainscreen or Bing Concert Hall, said Zabel. The ease of communication "can also lead to overload and an environment where it can be difficult to find a foothold or pinpoint the important thing to focus on where everybody has access to all of the information all the time." Join Zabel and other movers and shakers in the facades world December 4 at Facades+AM Seattle. Register today on the symposium website.
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."
Competition winner uses composite materials to re-imagine Semper's primitive hut.The title of TEX-FAB's fourth annual competition—Plasticity—has a double meaning. It refers first to the concept at the core of the competition brief: the capacity of parametric design and digital fabrication to manifest new formal possibilities. But it also alludes to the material itself, fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP). “Plastics have the potential to push contemporary architecture beyond the frame-plus-cladding formula dominant since at least the 19th century,” said competition winner Justin Diles. Pointing to traditional stonecutting and vault work, he said, "I'm very interested in this large volumetric mode of construction, but I'm not at all interested in the stone. I think that composites probably offer the best way of addressing this old yet new mode of constructing architecture." Diles' proposal, Plastic Stereotomy, builds on his work as a KSA fellow at The Ohio State University. But where his earlier Eigenforms were two-dimensional freestanding walls, Diles' Plastic Stereotomy pavilion—which he will build at scale during the coming months—is fully three-dimensional. Inspired by teaching tools designed by Robert le Ricolais, Diles used a finite element analysis 3D modeling plugin to simulate surface buckling by superimposing volumes onto one another. "Those pieces are voluptuous; they create a lot of poché [thickness] as they overlap with one another," Diles observed. While the plugin developed by his friend was critical to the design process, Diles remained focused throughout on the end goal of fabrication. "What I'm really looking at is how we can use simulation to think about issues of construction rather than just optimization," he said. Custom fabrication shop Kreysler & Associates will provide technical support as Diles moves from design to construction. Diles cites the fire-resistant FRP cladding developed by Kreysler for Snøhetta's SFMOMA as an example of how composite materials can ease the transition from two-dimensional to volumetric design. "Even though the project still adheres to Gottfried Semper's model of a lightweight frame and cladding, the panels don't have a frame expression," he said. "They're massive, with ripples and indentations. They point to a new way of thinking about architectural surface and enclosure." Kreysler and Diles will work together to streamline the techniques he used to build his competition prototype, a scaled-down section of the Plastic Stereotomy pavilion. (Bollinger + Grohmann will provide additional structural and material engineering support.) For the mockup, Diles used a 5-axis CNC mill to shape EPS foam molds onto which he layered up FRP cloth. He then removed the pieces from the molds, painted them, and glued and bolted them together, adding stiffeners to the open-backed components. Because the FRP is so light, he used two solid foam blocks to weigh down the structure. "I'm interested in working with Kreysler around thinking through production to make it more efficient," said Diles. For the fabricators, the TEX-FAB collaboration represents another step in Kreysler's journey from boat-building to other applications of composite materials, including architecture. "We're excited to work on this with Justin," said Kreysler's Josh Zabel. "It's exciting to see designers put fresh eyes on these materials we're devoted to." Plastic Stereotomy will be on display at TEX-FAB 2015 Houston at the University of Houston College of Architecture, March 26-29. The conference will feature workshops, lectures, and an exhibition on the theme of Plasticity.
On November 2nd a group of architects, builders, students, makers, educators, inventors and designers packed in for the Creative Architecture Machines Colloquium at California College of the Arts. The talk was organized by Jason Kelly Johnson of Future Cities Lab and brought together five practices working at the intersection of fabrication, computation, and making. Johnson led off the evening with an introduction to the practices and ideas behind maker culture; waxing philosophical on digital fabrication, the ubiquity of 3D printers and the future vision of what cutting edge Architecture offices will look like, complete with their own robot arms, of course. Joshua Zabel of Kreysler & Associates followed with some striking imagery and thoughts on new and old projects. Kreysler is fabricating the rippled composite rain screen for the new SFMOMA addition by Snøhetta and has been working at the forefront of composite technology for the past three decades. Andrew Atwood of Atwood-A and First Office traced the development of what we now know as the ubiquitous rendered image and brought with him a series of exploratory and experimental drawings and images that questioned and poked fun at current forms of representation. Returning to the realm of fabrication and material science Ron Rael of Rael-SanFratello and Emerging Objects spoke on the necessity to explore the materials (from pulverized recycled tire rubber to salt) that comprise the radical forms that architects and designers are pushing today. Fedor Novikov of Labori Construction Robotics spoke to the projects that he and his brother Petr are involved with at the IAAC, involving robots and 3D printed substances. Their dynamic Mataerial project which they have dubbed “anti-gravity object modeling,” allows freeform plastic extruded from a robot arm to attach to virtually any surface as it cures on contact through a chemical process (through the use of thermosetting polymers) within the material instead of less death-defying substances commonly found in 3D printers. Ending the evening were Brandon Kruysman and Jonathan Proto of Bot & Dolly (recently acquired by Google), best known for their role in the Oscar-winning film Gravity. They shared work from their short film Box, which explores the intersection of projection mapping, robotics, and film making and its origins in their experiments at the Robot House at Sci-Arc. The evening concluded with a panel discussion that touched on intellectual property, open source platforms, behavioral studies, sustainability, and the ethos of technology. The atmosphere remained electric as the speakers and audience compared their notes and predictions for the foreseeable robotic futures that we are surrounded with.
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!
Collaboration: The Art and Science of Facades Symposium: Thursday, July 26, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. UCSF Mission Bay Conference Center, San Francisco Workshops: Friday, July 27, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. California College of the Arts, San Francisco This week in San Francisco architects and engineers at the forefront of facade design and fabrication will gather to present their latest work and research. Sponsored by The Architect's Newspaper and Enclos, the first-day line-up for Collaboration: The Art and Science of Facades includes Craig Dykers of Snohetta as the keynote speaker along with presentation by leaders at SOM, Thornton Thomasetti, Firestone Building Products, IwamotoScott, Future Cities Lab, Gensler, Kreysler & Associates, Gehry Technologies, Buro Happold and more. On the second day, participants receive hands-on practical instruction through workshops with industry leaders. Those attending both days will receive 16 AIA Continuing Education credits. One day left to register! For registration click here. Can't make it out West this week? Check out the next call for papers: AN's Facades + Innovation Conference, October 10-12, Chicago. Download PDF.