The Architect’s Newspaper: What inspired Rise Nation? Did the client have specific ideas of what they wanted?Michael Szivos: The client is a gym that provides an experience much like a spin class but with climbing machines. The brief was for an interesting light installation that responded to the music played during workouts. [Rise Nation] approached Lucas Werthein, a technology director and friend of ours, about the project and once they decided the best approach would be to design something that was both physical and interactive, Lucas brought us in on the project. The initial inspiration was to produce an installation that evoked a rocky surface. This is the case when the lights are on, but during workouts the room is dark and the lighting is the only thing that is visible. What was interesting for us is this contrast. The seams between the rocky surface panels provide a lighting pattern that when animated is like lightning. On the one hand, the installation appears like something solid, and on the other, it is very ephemeral. Oddly enough it is the formal overlaps between these two opposite systems that give them both their unique character. What was the most difficult aspect of the design or production process? The biggest issue was that [Rise Nation is] out in L.A. and the installation had to be put in pretty quickly. We had everything fabricated here in New York and shipped to Los Angeles, then assembled on site. The structure is made of all flat pieces of aluminum. Although it was challenging doing it across the country, it was our first permanent piece, which was really rewarding, and we have learned a lot from the project. What can we expect to see from SOFTlab in 2016? We are currently working on 3M’s experience for South by Southwest, a large installation for a lobby renovation in the Financial District in New York, and on a product booth for a lighting company that will be installed in a number of shows around the world. We also just finished an exhibition with our friends at Tellart in Dubai for the World Government Summit as well as a permanent installation in the new 21c Museum Hotel in Lexington, Kentucky. SOFTlab is doing a number of permanent installations, which is a great progression for us, and we have permanent lighting installations on the boards for a landmark building in L.A. and a flagship store in New York.
Posts tagged with "Michael Szivos":
Installation inverts conventional relationship between architectural models and images.Each year, a group of Pratt Institute graduate students is challenged with pushing the boundaries of exhibition design as they curate the student work from the previous year. "The basic brief is for it not to be a show where it's work on white walls, but that there's an installation component," said Softlab's Michael Szivos, who co-taught the 2014 exhibition course with Nitzan Bartov. The spring show coincides with the publication of Process, a catalog of student projects. "The book shows it in that more normative condition, year by year," said Szivos. "The installation works in tandem with that. The hope is that the students come up with something different." This year Szivos' students passed the test with flying colors, constructing a floating display out of Mylar, medium-density fiberboard, cardboard, and Tyvek that upends the conventional relationship between architectural models and two-dimensional images. Most of the students' initial concepts had to do with producing a cloud-like space, a display surface that would have an interior as well as an exterior. They eventually translated the cloud into a Mylar net that acts as both surface and structure. Architectural models, typically relegated to podiums on the fringes of an exhibition, are given pride of place on integrated MDF platforms perforated with attenuated cardboard tubes. The visual work, in turn, is placed on the ground, positioned as if it is being projected from the suspended tubes. Conventionally, said Szivos, "the hard layer is usually resting on the ground; then you have the visual layer above it. Here, the hard surface is flipped upside down and floating." Visitors access the models by ducking underneath the Mylar cloud, then standing within one of several holes in the bottom surface. "The goal was that the models would actually be seen at eye level," said Szivos. "In this case, it's almost as if it's a city of models. Each zone is a place where the models can be viewed on real architectural terms." A second goal was surprise, which the students achieved by concealing the models behind diamond-shaped Tyvek panels attached to exterior of the net. "You don't know what's inside until you engage," said Szivos. The students engineered the cloud structure using Rhino and Kangaroo. In just two months—the exhibition is timed for Pratt's spring open house—the students finalized the design and decided how to fabricate it. The bulk of the cloud is made of laser-cut Mylar panels fastened together with grommets. Loops at the bottom of the panels secure platforms made of CNC-cut MDF scattered on a sea of sawed-off cardboard tubes, while the Tyvek panels (also laser-cut) are held in place with fashion snaps. The entire installation hangs from a tube frame of galvanized pipe clamped to the gallery's ceiling beams. Time constraints led to a few shortcuts. The students initially intended to develop a projection component, but in the end simply printed most of the two-dimensional images and placed them on the floor. They had also hoped to cover the entire Mylar net in Tyvek, but eventually limited themselves to the lowest rows only. Nevertheless, the project effectively demonstrates the architectural potential of surface-as-structure—in this case, a net weighing under 20 pounds that suspends over 500 pounds of weight. "The surface is a structural skin," said Szivos. "What's nice is that even though it's only attached on the outside, there are still interior spaces."
The results are in and the winners of the 31st annual Architectural League Prize for Young Architects + Designers were announced on Friday. The recipients of the 2012 awards are: Jorge Arvizu, Ignacio del Rio, Emmanuel Ramirez, and Diego Ricalde, MMX Studio, Mexico City; Jimenez Lai, Bureau Spectacular, Chicago; Sean Lally, WEATHERS / Sean Lally, Chicago; Seung Teak Lee and Mi Jung Lim, STPMJ, Brooklyn; Michael Szivos, SOFTlab, New York; and Koji Tsutsui, Koji Tsutsui & Associates, San Francisco and Tokyo. Formerly the Young Architects Forum, the League Prize is considered one of North America's most prestigious awards for young architects. The renderings and images reflect the theme of this year's prize, No Precedent. League committee members and competition jurors valued the competition entries based on a perception of the career of a young architect. According to the League's announcement, jurors sought "ideas, works, and methodologies that are unfounded, ungrounded, and suspect…the things no one has done before, and that one has little experience with.” The winners reflected the notion of their burgeoning careers by displaying work that is, “suggestive, speculative, and on the brink." Beginning June 21st, the winners will display their work at Parsons The New School for Design. Their work will also be featured in a new volume of the Young Architects series jointly published by Princeton Architectural Press and the League.