Posts tagged with "Marion Weiss":

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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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Is Drawing Dead? Yale Searches for an Answer

Is drawing dead? That was the burning question (and title) of last weekend’s symposium at the Yale School of Architecture, which assessed the contemporary state of drawing through three days of lectures and panels, with pen-and-paper proponents from across the architectural spectrum. This convergence of many great drawers past and present coincided with the recently opened exhibition Massimo Scolari: The Representation of Architecture, a largely drawing-based show on view through May 4 in the School of Architecture Gallery. To the central question, the answer came quickly, and it is "no." Many other fascinating and important questions were raised along the way: What is drawing's role in an increasingly computerized design culture, with the rise of BIM technology, computational design, and digital modeling? What is the relationship between the quick, loose sketch and the rigorous, precise computer model? How can drawing, in any medium, inform the process and ultimately, the final building? How do we mediate between real and imagined, and how has that changed? The Friday night keynote came from Sir Peter Cook of Archigram fame, who identified, through countless examples, the moment when drawings are at their most interesting and their most creative. Somewhere between rough sketch and final rendering, a drawing will show the right amount of information, while remaining visceral and tactile. Contemporary computer renderings, Cook joked seriously, often have suspiciously well-mowed grass and suspiciously happy children. He is interested in the slightly less polished version, where the building remains fictional in an honest way. Saturday morning, Julie Dorsey of Yale's Department of Computer Science showed off her new drawing software, The Mental Canvas, which allows users to create 3-D hand sketches on a computer, using an assemblage of floating, transparent "canvases" which can be rotated, moved, and scaled. Next, Andrew Witt of Gehry Technologies worked back from new drawing technology in “A Reverse History of Mechanized Drawing 2012–1900.” It was one of the more lively talks and displayed the history of drawing technologies from early digitally triangulated meshes, kinetic models, and stereoscopic drawings to the 18th-century Italian drawing machines and the projective geometries necessary for the beautiful curves of Neo-Classical staircases. There were some fantastic retro-digital environments form the ‘70s, which oddly seem more "real" now than they probably ever did. Marion Weiss of Weiss/Manfredi illustrated how the uncertainty of hand sketching and charcoal drawing informed the final forms and textures of the firm's Barnard College Diana Center. She also described their Brooklyn Botanical Garden Visitor Center as a series of sections dissolving into the earth, thus mitigating the transition from urban condition to nature. On the other hand, Greg Lynn of Greg Lynn FORM office took the stage and claimed territory for those who sketch on the computer. He exalted that "The rest of you proudly hold up your pens and pencils, but I would hold up my mouse." All in all, the weekend offered a lively and provocative series of talks, filled with rich examples that served to inspire and inform. Despite the fact that a few of the presentations struggled to make a clear point about the role of drawing today, ultimately, the symposium showed that drawing is far from dead. In typically ironic Yale fashion, the best evidence of representation's continuing importance may be the struggle to talk coherently about it. Now excuse me while I go find my pencils.