Seven design variations are applied across 17 custom wooden benches, fabricated by Mark Richey Woodworking.Sited above a vehicular tunnel and therefore bereft of old growth trees, the Plaza at Harvard University, with its aggregate porcelain paving and curvaceous, sculptural benches, stands in stark visual contrast to the school’s notably shady yard and north campus. Designed by Stoss Landscape Urbanism, the plaza serves as a multi-functional space for staff, students, and the local community. A large part of accomplishing this goal fell to the unique seating solution, a collection of custom-designed, wooden slat benches that aim to increase the function and user comfort of the public space. Some of the benches are meant for lounging with no back and a low seat height, while others are higher with full seat backs. Some twist in the manner of a Victorian tete-a-tete settee, while still others support a touchdown working posture. Stoss's design for the benches, sliced like a loaf of bread, was achieved in Rhino with a Grasshopper plugin. The parametric modeling tool was instrumental in defining the benches' complex geometries. "At every change, the curves meet two general sections so there's a morphology of that form work," said Erik Prince, an associate at Stoss who worked on the plaza. "The wooden slats are an incremental radial splay of the overall geometry so every rib has a unique angle to it." The design team produced a 3D model for each of the 17 benches. Since the benches were manufactured based on information contained in the digital files, a substantial portion of time was spent developing accurate models that could be extrapolated for the fabrication process. "It was a deep model, so even the smallest changes would cascade throughout the design," said Greg Porfido, chief operating officer at Mark Richey Woodworking, which fabricated the benches. Further intricacies of the manufacturing process came from the slight change in the angle of each rib to accomplish the complex twists and turns of unique forms. The centermost rib stands vertically erect, while those radiating out to either side increasingly angle outward along the length of each bench, culminating in as much as a 30 degree lean at each end. Mark Richey Woodworking fabricated the ribs on a 5-axis CNC mill. The sharp angles of the intersecting slats, which have parallel reveals, were achieved with mitered connections fixed with epoxy and mortise and tenon joints. Once fastened together as a "bread slice," they were laid over a metal substructure and screwed from beneath. Removable metal caps on both ends conceal drivers for LED base lighting, power and data hookups, and deliver a smooth, clean edge. Reflecting on the process of parametric design and fabrication, both Stoss Landscape Urbanism and Mark Richey Woodworking were in agreement about the success of the process and the outcome of the project. "It's a great way to communicate, but it requires a very collaborative approach," Porfido said. "The stakeholders have to have trust in the process; otherwise it doesn't work."
Posts tagged with "Landscape Urbanism":
Seemingly sliced into the asphalt of a Brooklyn street beneath the Manhattan Bridge is an unexpected glass-filled "tattoo" designed by landscape architect Paula Meijerink, founder of Boston-based WANTED Landscape. Meijerink is among eight landscape architects featured in Material Landscapes, a recently opened exhibition at the Sheldon Art Galleries in St. Louis running through January 21st, 2012. Work from the eight firms including D.I.R.T studio, dlandstudio, Stoss Landscape Urbanism, Legge Lewis Legge, PEG office, Kaseman Beckman Advanced Strategies, and ESKYIU is presented in photographs and drawings. Curator Liane Hancock, senior lecturer at Washington University in St. Louis, chose projects ranging from a vertical container garden in Hong Kong to a waterfront in Milwaukee to reflect innovative use of materials in landscape architecture and to advance landscape design in St. Louis in light of major projects such as Citygarden and the redevelopment of the St. Louis Arch grounds.
Biennales have proliferated in recent years marking the redistribution of culture and also its global consumption. Once wed to the rarefied setting of Venice, they can now be found in Barcelona, Rio, Lisboa and… Bat Yam. “Bat Yam?” you ask. In this unknown and unlikely Israeli town, the curators of the Bat-Yam Biennale of Landscape Urbanism have fashioned a wonderful new genre of biennale that is more “urban action” than exhibition. A rather poor, largely Russian immigrant “outer borough” of the elegant white city of Tel Aviv, Bat Yam calls to mind Brighton Beach with palm trees. The city constitutes a frayed but dignified modernist fabric built from an amazing array of gemütlich variations on the Maison Citrohan with a sensitive implementation of the tenets of open space, light, air, and the hierarchy of ways. While the biennale provides the city with an array of quasi-permanent installations of public art, architecture, and landscape as catalysts for its growth and transformation, the exhibition continues to search for new strategies to sustain a city that lacks both the opportunities but also the limitations of development-driven planning. The two curators, Yael Moira-Klein and Sigal Barnir frame their appreciation of Bat Yam’s modernist town planning within an acknowledgement of the problems it faces: most significantly, a dearth of property for the kind of commercial development on which the Israeli tax structure is based. Indeed, the construction sites that became fertile ground for the biennale exhibits are the very last that remain. A comparison with the neighboring town of Holon is illuminating. Awash with cranes and mixed-use towers, property rich Holon can use development per se as its planning strategy and then give it an identifiable urban image through hi-profile projects such as the new Ron Arad Design Museum. In the absence of such raucous development, the curators ask, what is Bat Yam to be? The Biennale’s formal theme “Timing” attacks city planning and development from the point view of landscape and its partnership with long-term unpredictable growth. Embracing this point of view, the Bat-Yam municipality offered up part of their annual public works budget as a funding source along with fallow city properties as sites for projects, at least for now. And so a glowing lantern hooked to a construction crane at night entitled "Skylight" will remain only until its tower is complete. Several empty lots so small as to evade development are currently transformed into social hangouts. Meanwhile, at other installations, the powder coated steel arcade of “On the Way to the Sea” will remain a welcome long-term fixture in the municipal park; but the mobile trees in boxes from the “Roaming Forest” and the landscaped craters of "Observing Horizon” will only come of age over the next several years. This robust concept of timing gracefully frames issues of sustainability as matters of “persistence.” The “Great Butterfly Experiment” counters the widespread recession of butterflies with the installation of 150,000 butterfly-attracting plants and a truly lovely pavilion to welcome them back. “Tamogotchi Park” takes on the serious matter of water supply with a Rube Goldberg affair of a child-operated merry-go-round that pulls the ocean through pipes to a tower where it is desalinated and then fed to plants under individual polycarbonate bubbles. The long-term curatorial intention of importing these projects to Bat Yam is the cultivation of “urban action” from within. No high price tag installations have been installed to re-brand Bat Yam as the next art biennale capital; rather on-the-cheap opportunistic interventions prod the municipality and the residents to first take note of their city and then hopefully to take part. The curators used the biennale to actually jump start grassroots organization by commissioning teams of designers and sociologists to identify small sites of public/private ambiguity like parking strips and to organize the neighbors/stakeholders around collaborative designs for their improvement. Within the Biennale’s light heartedness lie serious questions of the politics of permanence and stability. On a moonlit walk along the Mediterranean heading south from Tel Aviv through Jaffa to Bat Yam, it emerged that the sole neighborhood with no direct access to the beach is predominately Arab. By simply making Bat Yam a destination, the Biennale created a sense of imaginative continuity among these three waterfront communities. And if it did not yet exist then surely it could, as various city officials hope, given the shared economic and social opportunities that mutual “urban action” along such a beachfront would bring. Here is the promised city of “Timing.”
Synthetic Forests. BldgBlog uncovered a series of aerial photos of Dutch tree farms by artist Gerco de Ruijter. Called Baumschule, the pristine man-made geometry overlaid upon nature is really quite stunning. Saving Robin Hood. One of the first brutalist buildings in London by the Smithsons could be saved from demolition and converted into modern family townhomes. BD Online reports that a proposal by Sarah Wigglesworth Architects plans new units on the roof. Completing Indy. A proposed "complete streets" bill for the Indiana Department of Transportation is currently being considered that would require a multimodal approach to transportation design and could be a be a coup for pedestrians and cyclists. Urban Indy has the details, including a potential loophole. Urban Playoffs. There's an ideological battle fermenting between the forces behind New Urbanism and newcomer Landscape Urbanism. The Boston Globe details the differences between the two and the latest on the battle of the urban minds.