Posts tagged with "Michael Meredith":

Experimental glass block tower by MOS debuts at Chicago Architecture Biennial

facadeplus_logo1
Brought to you with support from
AN caught up with co-founders of MOS Architects, Michael Meredith and Hilary Sample, and Seattle-based artist and designer John Hogan. The group collaborated with structural engineer Nat Oppenheimer of Silman Engineering to develop a prototype of an interlocking structural glass block. The work is part of Vertical City, a central installation at the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial, where sixteen "towers" respond to one of architectural history's most significant competitions: the 1922 Chicago Tribune Tower. Curated by Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee, the towers will remain on exhibit in the Sidney R. Yates Hall of the Chicago Cultural Center through January 7, 2018.
  • Facade Manufacturer John Hogan Designs
  • Architects MOS Architects (Project Team: Michael Meredith, Hilary Sample, John Yurchyk, Nile Greenberg, Mark Acciari, Michael Abel, Paul Ruppert, Fancheng Fei.)
  • Additional Project Support Columbia University GSAPP, Princeton University School of Architecture, and College for Creative Studies Detroit
  • Facade Consultants Nat Oppenheimer, Silman Engineering (structural engineering)
  • Location Chicago, IL
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System load bearing glass block w/ aluminum support
  • Products soda-lime-silica glass hot-cast in custom manufactured graphite formwork
Called “& Another (Chicago Tribune Tower),” the project is an orderly stack of three types of modular block units rising to approximately sixteen feet tall. A custom-milled aluminum plate system interfaces with the glass block wall every two courses, providing lateral bracing. The assembly creates a translucent effect, blurring the legibility of the tower’s structural core. "We would like this to be a real building," said Michael Meredith. "This is a full-scale mockup of a 16-foot-tall glass wall. We didn't know what we were going to get at first. It was all a big experiment." The office tapped into technical Ph.D. papers and engineering research utilized in MVRDV's recent glass block project and looked into precedents from offices like Renzo Piano Building Workshop. Michael Meredith said the aesthetic qualities of the glass are what pique most visitors’ interest, but expects the work will spark a deeper conversation about architectural history. The installation pairs the repetitive, rational, and modular thinking of Ludwig Hilberseimer, best known for his ties to the Bauhaus and to Mies van der Rohe, with “one-liner” tectonic jokes—tower as a fluted column, a skyscraper with crenellation, etc.—in the manner of Adolf Loos who submitted a “joke” entry to the original 1922 competition. The tower sits just shy of sixteen feet, remaining "unfinished," with a final course of blocks scattered on the ground below. The glass blocks were handmade, so ensuring the assembly stayed vertically true was a primary concern to the project team. A "peg registration" system—precisely located bumps and divets—was incorporated into the formwork to assist in stacking the modular units. Despite this planning, Hogan said the group was not sure how much tolerance the individual units would have. The solution was to incorporate CNC-milled aluminum plates to provide a rigid template for the glass walls. "Engineering a system that basically gives you a reset every two courses was the best way for us to be confident the tower would stand straight." The glass block manufacturing process lasted only six days and resulting in 750 blocks from three distinct forms. The team used soda-lime glass, one of the most prevalent types of glass available, accounting for about 90% of manufactured glass today. For Hogan, the project is a continuation of techniques picked up at Alfred University in Western New York, a top-notch casting facility with what he calls “an incredible collection of scrap graphite” (an ideal material for hot-casting glass). Hot-casting is a process that involves pouring molten glass into a form. Graphite is an ideal form material as it can be removed almost immediately after the pour, whereas other materials require the glass to cool completely prior to removal—a lengthier process that is inherently more labor intensive.
Hogan said despite the fast timeframe and limited budget, the creative process was fluid and not predetermined from the start. "The lack of pressure MOS put on themselves to have a predetermined idea of where this thing is going and what it might become is something that aligns well with how I work." So what’s next now that the "mock-up" is complete? Hogan continues to “scale up” his efforts and will be completing a rooftop exterior screen installation later this year in Seattle. He credits this repetitive modular design approach as a way to continue working at a larger architectural scale. MOS Architects and Hogan plan to collaborate on future projects as well. "For me, this is just the beginning of a conversation," said Hogan. "The potential for building larger structures or any number of facade systems with this approach is something we are very excited about. Everything is automated and precise today, so the handmade qualities of building materials have become increasingly relevant.”
 

MOS Architects, Michael Graves among winners of the 2015 Cooper Hewitt Design Awards

The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum started awarding a yearly Design Award in 2000. The award is a jury-selected process that includes among its ten categories honors for Architecture, Interior Design, Landscape Design, and for Lifetime Achievement that has been won by architects. This year's awards were elegantly introduced by the Museum’s Director Caroline Baumann and Tod Williams and Billie Tsien. They honored MOS Architects' Hilary Sample and Michael Meredith, landscape designer Shane Coen at Coen + Partners, and Commune, the Los Angeles interior design firm. In addition, Common Ground founder Rosanne Haggerty was given a Design Mind award, Jack Lenor Larson was awarded the Director's Award, and, fittingly, the late Michael Graves (whose partners claim he told them before he died that he would win the award this year) was given the annual Lifetime Achievement award.

AN senior editor Matt Shaw interviews MOS Architects

New York-based studio MOS's experimental projects use technology not to produce extreme digital forms, but to create scenarios for different forces to generate new and novel solutions. Senior editor Matt Shaw sat down with principals Michael Meredith and Hilary Sample in their Harlem home-studio to learn more.

The Architect’s Newspaper: How would you characterize your practice in general?

Hilary Sample: Well, I think it is still evolving—it’s not a set thing, it doesn’t run by itself. We don’t have a fixed methodology. It is unconventional and we try to make it that way on purpose. We are working through a set of problems. We have recently evolved from working on the single-family house to art-related projects and installations, artist’s studios at Krabbesholm, and now mixed use as well.

Michael Meredith: One part of running an office is to produce a culture. We’re a small group, we aren’t corporate, and we live above the office, so it’s an intimate thing. Everybody knows us, they know our kids. We interact all the time. They see our dogs. It’s literally Mom and Pop. We set up a culture where we are working on commercial projects, projects for clients that have to meet budgets and stuff, but at the same time we are making stuff for no clients whatsoever. We are a normal office too though—we have deadlines, crises, the usual.

AN: Your work incorporates a subtle sense of humor in it. How do you reconcile that with a more refined sense of good taste?

MM: It’s not one of these things where if you are one you aren’t the other. It’s more like a mannerism, where you can see the slipped keystone as a kind of sense of humor to some degree. At Solo House there was a kind of humor in a way it could be tragedy. One of the T-shapes has fallen over and becomes the bedroom. That kind of physical humor seems like part of architecture’s history. The buildings have a kind of clunkiness, so it’s kind of childish, but it also works really well, it solves the client’s needs, it stays within budgets, it’s hopefully a place between something beautiful and clunky.

HS: We are interested in refined things that can still be playful too. Lately, we have been talking about putting together a body of our work. Now that we have a history of our own, we can start to look at it more seriously and ask what the next steps are now. You know when you do something that it will work for multiple projects.

MM: If you look at Alvaro Siza, he is an amazing architect who has had obsessions about single ideas for an entire lifetime, he is still trying to work through them. It’s different, but you can put the pieces together. That is something we would strive toward, rather than the corporate model where everything is unique and different and is driven by its site and client. I get worried about that with some offices.

AN: How do you approach a new design problem?

MM: We go back to the previous work and then go from there. I think.

HS: I think that’s right. It depends on the project. Houses have house issues, Cultural projects have cultural issues. So we look at our previous work and then we start to research. It’s kind of a typical architectural process: We look at the site, the program, and the environmental issues.

We are really excited to be included in the upcoming Chicago Biennial. It’s a great group. We were in the Ordos 100, which was almost ten years ago. There are starting to be little exhibitions around that now. To be included in Chicago is great. I’m really excited that there is something like this happening in the United States. It’s a really great moment.

MM: We are doing a house at full scale in a room right next to Tatiana Bilbao and Vo Trong Nghia, a Vietnamese architect. There will be three full-scale houses and we are one of them. The Chicago thing should be interesting. It’s like a generation is starting to emerge.