Posts tagged with "Masonry":

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KVA Brings Digital Brick to Harvard

Old and new technologies combine in renovated anthropology building.

Tasked with transforming Harvard's 1971 Tozzer Library into a new home for the university's Anthropology Department, Kennedy & Violich Architecture (KVA) faced a unique set of challenges. In addition to balancing the desire for a distinct architectural identity with the building's literal and metaphorical connection to adjacent structures including Peabody Museum, the architects had to accommodate an expanded program within the old library's footprint and structure. As for Tozzer Library's facade, a mold problem and poor environmental performance meant that preserving the brick exterior was never an option. "It's a generic problem of envelopes from buildings that aren't that old, yet can't stand up to contemporary needs," said principal Sheila Kennedy. "What are you going to do with those buildings? The bold approach here was, 'we're going to build on [the existing] value." By stripping Tozzer Library down to its steel and concrete-slab bones, adding space under a two-story copper roof, and wrapping the exterior in a parametrically-designed brick skin, KVA seamlessly negotiated between Harvard's storied past and the mandates of a 21st-century curriculum. Both Kennedy and founding principal J. Frano Violich are quick to dismiss the notion that the problems with the 1971 building, designed by Boston firm Johnson, Hotvedt and Associates, were anything other than a product of their times. "Attitudes toward energy consumption were very different at the time," said Violich. "[Tozzer Library] was built by intelligent people, but everyone's understanding was different from today." In contrast, he said, for the new Tozzer Anthropology Building, "everyone was on top of every [LEED] point." (The project achieved LEED Gold.) KVA began by substituting 6-inch wall studs for the original 2 1/2-inch studs, making way for improved air circulation and insulation. In addition, they eliminated the potential for mold growth by increasing the air gap between the outside sheeting and the back of the brick veneer from 3/4 inches to 2 inches. With the mechanics of the exterior walls in place, "the challenge, aesthetically, was how do we get a sense of both thickness and thinness in the veneer?" said Violich. Luckily, the question of how to breathe new life into flat surfaces was nothing new for the architects. "At KVA we've been very interested in how one designs with contemporary wall systems, with materials that are thin," explained Kennedy. "How do we express their thinness, but by architectural means and devices give them an architectural thickness, manipulate them formally so there can be a game of thin and thick?" In the case of Tozzer Anthropology Building, the answer was a new entrance pavilion with a three-dimensional brick pattern meant to "seem like carved thick brick—like an archeological find," said Kennedy. Drawing upon their early experiments with digital brick, including those at the University of Pennsylvania Law School building, the designers used parametric design software to tie each brick unit to the building's overall form. "As we manipulated the physical form in 3D, we could see various brick patterns that could develop," explained Kennedy. "It was a hybrid of low-tech and high-tech," she said of the process of zeroing in on corbeling, a brick-stacking technique that allows for overhanging layers. The digitally-derived corbeled texture complemented the depth of ornament found elsewhere around Harvard's campus. "We didn't want to make something that was arbitrary and ornamental, but something that was authentic to our time," said Kennedy. To arrive at a final design for the multi-story entrance wall, the architects again combined cutting-edge technology with traditional expertise. "The actual pattern was achieved through physical experimentation," explained Kennedy. "We did a lot of dry stack work with local masons: We would take the designs out of the computer, then pass them to the masons to test. That was a really fun part of the process." KVA then took what they learned from their real-life experiments back into the virtual world, adjusting the digital design accordingly.
  • Facade Manufacturer Kansas Brick (brick), Wasau (glazing)
  • Architects Kennedy & Violich Architecture
  • Facade Installer Consigli (masonry), Gilbert & Becker Roofing (copper)
  • Facade Consultants BuroHappold Engineering
  • Location Cambridge, MA
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • System brick walls, including parametrically-designed corbeled entry pavilion, with high performance glazing and custom copper roof
  • Products 500 Harvard brick from Kansas Brick, Wausau 4250-Z Zero Sightline insert windows, Wasau 6250 S-Series SuperWall curtain wall system
Even the flat facades appear unlike typical brick walls, thanks largely to an unusual window arrangement. "When you're looking at the windows, you're not looking at traditional punch windows, or a strip window with a long relieving angle," said Violich. Rather, the windows are shifted to conceal the vertical control joints in the brick. "That helps defuse the veneer quality that brick sometimes brings on," he explained. The floor-to-floor windows further confound expectations by concealing the plenum and—because they are frameless, and punch out rather than in—appearing as much like light monitors as the actual skylights cut into the building's roofline. Tozzer Anthropology Building's recycled-content copper roof completes the dialogue between thick and thin established on the brick facades. "We worked hard in the massing of the design to give a twist to the building," said Kennedy. "That could really only happen in the two new floors." KVA textured the copper roof with vertical standing seams, again using parametric software to arrange different panel types in a corduroy-like pattern. "A lot of times people think advanced facades are super technical, but we can get lost in the technology and why we're using it," observed Kennedy. "[This project] is a good combination of an aesthetic agenda, an architectural agenda, and a technical agenda." For KVA, Tozzer Anthropology Building represents more than just a repurposed campus building. Rather, it offers a provocative answer to one of today's most pressing questions: how to rectify an inherited aesthetic preference for glass with the current push for improved energy efficiency. "Everybody loves glass—we love transparency in architecture," said Kennedy. "But as we move on in our energy transition, we're going to have to develop new ideas about mass and opacity. How can we go back to a pre-modern time, but create something that is contemporary?"
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Before the Department of Homeland Security moves into its old insane asylum home, the National Historic Landmark will need some intense TLC

Although a designated landmark, the proposed new site for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the heart of the St. Elizabeths West Campus, Washington D.C., is an intense fixer-upper. Working with architects Shalom Baranes Associates and contractor Grunley Construction, the General Services Administration proposes a total renovation of the 264,300 square foot Center Building, a collection of seven connected structures that served as patient treatment rooms and administrative offices for the original Government Hospital for the Insane. It later became known as the St. Elizabeths Hospital. Once rehabilitated, the Center Building will house the DHS headquarters and the Secretary’s Office. Located north of the U.S. Coast Guard headquarters, the 176-acre west campus was recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1990. The Center Building was shuttered three years ago following the transfer of St. Elizabeths Hospital functions to the east campus, and photos submitted to the National Capital Planning Commission show that the building is deteriorating on the inside. Its exterior openings were boarded up in 2014 in advance of its reuse. "Basically, this project entails the integration of a completely new building within the envelope of the original and restored facades,” reads the submission to the NCPC. “Critical to the project's success is not only the preservation of important historic fabric, but the optimum interplay between historic planning ideals and modern, efficient workspace." The preservation and restoration project includes building stabilization from below grade, masonry repairs, window replacements, the removal and reconstruction of interior walls and floors, porch reconstruction, and landscape upgrades, among other fixes. To finance the repairs, President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2016 budget request includes $379.7 million to fund the second and third phases of the DHS campus consolidation.
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Pictorial> Studio Gang’s sylvan retreat in Kalamazoo, Michigan

Studio Gang Architects' Arcus Center at Kalamazoo College in Michigan broke ground in 2012. Now photos of this sylvan study space are available, following its September opening. And they don't disappoint. The 10,000-square-foot building is targeting LEED Gold. Gang's press release said the new social justice center, a trifurcated volume terminating in large transparent window-walls, “brings together students, faculty, visiting scholars, social justice leaders, and members of the public for conversation and activities aimed at creating a more just world.” The open interior spaces are connected with long sight lines and awash in natural light—a cozy condition Studio Gang says will break down barriers and help visitors convene. The building's concave exterior walls are made of a unique wood-masonry composite that its designers say will sequester carbon. It also, says a release, “challenges the Georgian brick language and plantation-style architecture of the campus’s existing buildings.”
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Justin Diles Breaks the Mold for TEX-FAB

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."
  • Fabricator Justin Diles
  • Designers Justin Diles
  • Location Los Angeles, CA and Houston, TX
  • Date of Completion 2014 (prototype), 2015 (full-scale pavilion)
  • Material FRP, paint, glue, bolts, solid foam blocks
  • Process 3D modeling, FEM, CNC milling, molding, painting, glueing, bolting
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.
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Pratt Students Raise an AAC Wall

Installation investigates the future of facade design and fabrication.

Unlike some student projects, AAC Textile-Block v2.0 was shaped by both practical and speculative concerns. In back-to-back courses at Pratt, undergraduates designed and fabricated a prototype section of a screen wall system made from autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC). Co-taught by Lawrence Blough and Ezra Ardolino, the design studio and prototyping seminar encouraged students to look beyond their computer screens to real-world constraints including block size and light and air circulation. "The idea was that we wanted to make something that has an application later on," said Blough. "It was more than a run-of-the-mill digital fabrication project," added Ardolino. "It was really a comprehensive fabrication project." Each student in the design studio created a scheme for a four-story facade comprising modules cut from standard 8-by-8-by-24-inch AAC bricks donated by Aercon AAC (additional funding was supplied by the Office of the Dean of the School of Architecture). All of the assemblies were required to be self-supporting; some students designed them to be structural or to act as a weather barrier as well. With help from structural engineer Robert Otani and facade consultant Erik Verboon, both of whom teach at Pratt, the students explored their designs using Rhino and wire-cut foam models before CNC-milling prototype wall assemblies from high-density foam. During the following semester, Blough and Ardolino's seminar moved into design-development. Again with Otani's assistance, the class modified one of the designs generated in the studio for fabrication. Among the issues the seminar students addressed was the balance between uniqueness and repetition in the final assembly. "Every block could have been unique, but then there's a question of whether or not it's more efficient to incorporate repetition," said Ardolino. "The students solved that one: they figured out how they could set up the system to be somewhat repetitive." The assembly as built contains 96 blocks of 20 different types. "The earlier stuff I'd done was trying to use as much off-the-shelf material as I could," said Blough. "Here we decided to really push it, and to take on more of the ideas of mass customization."
  • Fabricator Pratt Institute School of Architecture students, Lawrence Blough, Ezra Ardolino
  • Designers Pratt Institute School of Architecture students, Lawrence Blough, Ezra Ardolino
  • Location Brooklyn
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • Material Aercon Florida autoclaved aerated concrete, steel plates, steel rods, polyurethane construction adhesive, plywood
  • Process Rhino, Grasshopper, HAL, modeling, CNC milling, mortaring, shimming
Students milled the AAC modules from 8-by-8-by-12-inch half-bricks using a reconditioned auto-industry robot at Timbur, Ardolino's computer-aided design and fabrication studio. After considering their options, the team settled on an "in the round" strategy, in which the tool makes parallel passes around the Z axis of each block. The blocks were held to the table using custom-milled high-density urethane foam jigs. By working from the largest module to the smallest module, the students required only two jigs. "As the block got smaller, more and more of the jig got eaten away during milling—like a palimpsest," observed Ardolino. While Ardolino managed the off-site fabrication, Blough oversaw assembly in the School of Architecture lobby. Students volunteered their time between classes to lay courses of the milled blocks, using a high performance polyurethane construction adhesive in place of mortar. Slotted steel plates located two courses from the top and bottom of the 10-foot 8-inch by 4-foot prototype accept 1/4-inch rods, which also pass through channels milled into the faces of pairs of blocks. Thinner, staple-like steel rods provide horizontal reinforcement every fourth course. When the installation was up, the assembly team, realizing the floor was uneven, pushed it into plumb before shimming it and re-adjusting the tension on the rods. Though the installation is presently unsealed, Blough and Ardolino are investigating an epoxy-like coating that would protect the blocks from contact damage without obscuring the tool paths. "We like the tool paths—they make it look like dressed stone," said Blough. Though the multi-semester project was designed as a hands-on learning experience for the undergraduates, the professionals involved benefited as well. "I like the idea of this cross-pollination between what goes on in my office and in Ezra's office, and that we can then bring it back to the studio and really push it," said Blough. "It was really liberating for me to take it to this whole other level with Ezra and the students, because you have all these great minds working on it."
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On View> Palaces for the People: Guastavino and the Art of Structural Tile

Palaces for the People: Guastavino and the Art of Structural Tile Museum of the City of New York 1220 5th Avenue, New York Through September 7th Coming to New York City from Washington, D.C., this exhibition illuminates the legacy of architect and builder Rafael Guastavino. A Catalan immigrant, Guastavino created the iconic (and aptly named) Guastavino tile. By interlocking terracotta tiles and layers of mortar to build his arches, Guastavino married old-world aesthetics with modern innovation. The resulting intersection of technology and design revolutionized New York City’s landscape, and is used in over 200 historic buildings including Grand Central Terminal, Carnegie Hall, The Bronx Zoo’s Elephant House, and Ellis Island. Guastavino’s son, Rafael III, is part of the family legacy explored in the exhibition. MCNY has expanded this showing to include 20 more projects found throughout New York City’s five boroughs. The exhibition also boasts an 11-by-15-foot replica of a Guastavino vault, contemporary photos by Michael Freeman, previously unreleased drawings and materials, and a video gallery installation that visually immerses the viewer in Guastavino’s vaults.
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Product> Trade Secrets: Architects Share Their Product Picks

From Andre Kikoski to Leo Marmol to David Mullman, top architects spill the beans on their favorite products—glazing, surfaces, and finish materials. Lasvit Liquidkristal A molded-glass sheet suitable for interior and exterior applications, the relief pattern is continuous between panels. “In Sophie’s restaurant at Saks Fifth Avenue in Chicago, we installed a wall of digitally-engineered Liquidkristal by Lasvit. The optical effects of cascading ripples of glass create playful reflections, painterly distortions, and elegant abstract patterns that are beautiful in their subtlety and striking in their boldness.” —Andre Kikoski, Andre Kikoski Architect, New York City lutron_1of2 Lutron Dorma Digitally controlled commercial lighting-control and monitoring system. Compatible with dimming ballasts. “Lutron and its EcoSystem node allows for multiple lighting atmospheres that enable us to create unique spatial environments, while saving our clients money on their electrical bills.” —Ricardo Alvarez-Diaz, Alvarez-Diaz & Villalon Architecture and Interior Design, Miami/San Juan duravit_HappyD2_2of2 Duravit Happy D.2 Offered in pedestal, console, and surface-mounted models; with or without tap platform. “We love the simplicity and rounded corners of the Happy D.2 sink from Duravit. It has enough presence to stand on its own as a wall-mounted unit, but can sit happily atop an elegant modern vanity as well. It’s our go-to sink!” —Susan Doban, Doban Architecture, New York City health_ceramics_1of2 Heath Ceramics Sun Valley Bronze Seven in-stock collections of field, trim, and dimensional tile; custom orders accepted. LEED eligible. “We love the handcrafted, high-quality products that Heath creates; its wonderful tile adorns many of our projects, and we share a set of core design principles that celebrates the efficiency and elegance of modern design.” —Leo Marmol, Marmol Radziner, Los Angeles luceplan-trama-parete-soffitto-2 Luceplan Trama Available as suspension and ceiling/wall model, in 20-inch or 25-inch diameter. Aluminum with polycarbonate diffuser. “The Luceplan Trama fixture gives lots of beautiful light and it’s amazingly easy to change the bulb. For us, it’s often the vendor that is as significant as the product; nothing is more important than good service and help when you need it.” —David Mullman, Mullman Seidman Architects, New York City vorwerk Vorwerk Re/Cover Green SPVC-free, roll-based floor covering. High slip-resistance. Offered in 30 solid colors and patterns. LEED eligible. “Engineered textiles sourced from sustainable materials—like the Re/Cover line by Vorwerk—is what made us select Relative Space as a design partner at Barclays Center.” —Ayumi Sugiyama, SHoP Architects, New York City nawkaw Nawkaw LiTHIUM Concrete and Masonry Stains Suitable for use on masonry and pre-cast concrete surfaces, the stain is offered in 40 colors, as well as metallic and reflective finishes. “For exteriors where we can’t match the brick color or where some stucco or coating has been applied to the masonry, one of products that we like a lot these days is LiTHIUM by Nawkaw. It’s similar to paint, but it’s not a film; it actually forms a chemical bond with the surface of the masonry.” —Jerry Caldari, Bromley Caldari Architects, New York City hansgrohe_CromaGreenShowerpipe Hansgrohe Croma Green Showerpipe Assembly includes both Raindance S 150 AIR Green 1-jet showerhead and Croma E 100 Green 3-jet handshower. “In hotel renovations, we see a trend to replace the traditional bathtub with a shower. The Croma Green Showerpipe, with its all-in-one, outside-the-wall design is easy to install and service—things which are always a concern, especially in the hospitality sector. The handshower is not only great for guest bathing, but also ideal from a housekeeping perspective.” —Foreman Arden Rodgers, TVS Design, Atlanta
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On View> “Mixtec Stonecutting Artistry: 16th Century Ribbed Vaults in Mixteca, Mexico” Opens August 24

Mixtec Stonecutting Artistry: 16th Century Ribbed Vaults in Mixteca, Mexico HGA Gallery Rapson Hall, Goldstein Museum of Design, University of Minnesota 89 Church Street SE, Minneapolis, MN August 24, 2013 to October 13, 2013 Sixteenth century Mexico was home to buildings of extraordinary construction quality erected for the thousands of people converting to Christianity. Indigenous craftsmen utilized the most sophisticated technology and their profound understanding of locally accessible materials in an intricate system of symbiosis to collaborate with Spanish architects who were experienced with the architecture of the ribbed vault. Employing Mixtecan masonry techniques and European geometry, they collaborated to construct three churches in the Mixteca region of southern Mexico with sophisticated geometrical vaults unique to 16th century America. Through digitally scanning San Pablo Teposcolula, Santa Domingo Yanhuitlán, and San Juan Bautista Coixtlahuaca, researcher and guest curator Benjamin Ibarra-Sevilla, Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Minnesota’s College of Design, was able to produce scale replicas of each gothic dome. Mixtec Stonecutting Artistry: 16th Century Ribbed Vaults in Mixteca, Mexico, on view from August 24 to October 13, 2013, reveals the complex digital scanning, documentation, and three-dimensional modeling that facilitated the research and replication of the rib vaults in the late 20th century.