Posts tagged with "modus studio":

Placeholder Alt Text

Grafton Architects will design Anthony Timberlands Center for the University of Arkansas

Following a lengthy design review process, Irish architecture firm Grafton Architects was chosen by the University of Arkansas’ Board of Trustees to design the institution’s new Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The firm, which was also awarded this year’s Pritzker Prize earlier this month, won out against five other big-name practices, including Dorte Mandrup A/S, Shigeru Ban Architects, LEVER Architecture, Kennedy & Violich Architecture, and WT/GO Architecture. “This is fantastic news,” said Farrell and McNamara of Grafton Architects in a press statement. “We are very excited about building our first building in the United States in Fayetteville, Arkansas. This building helps us think about the future optimistically, where the use of timber with all its possibilities, becomes real, useful and hopefully loved.” The $16 million facility, in partnership with the local modus studio, will become the Fay Jones School of Architecture's design research center and will be built with a major emphasis on timber, a building material that has become increasingly popular in the past few years in North America for its structural properties and ability to sequester carbon. The department’s brand new graduate program in timber and wood design will be housed in the new building, along with existing and forthcoming design-build fabrication technologies laboratories. “We want people to experience the versatility of timber, both as the structural ‘bones’ and the enclosing ‘skin’ of this new building," said Farrell. "The building itself is a teaching tool, displaying the strength, color, grain, texture and beauty of the various timbers used.” Like most other projects designed by the firm, the building will have a civic quality with plenty of natural light throughout its interior spaces that, in turn, makes the innovative research visible to passersby. The board of trustees was impressed with Grafton Architect’s demonstration of timber’s potential, noting that their proposal "creates a memorable institutional landmark for the urban landscape of Fayetteville.” Peter MacKeith, dean of the Fay Jones School of Architecture, added that “this selection, in short, is a landmark day for our school, our university and our state [...] As an accomplished, recognized women-led practice, Grafton Architects confirms for all our students that the design professions are equally theirs in which to find their identities and to realize their potentials.” The project was funded in large part by a grant from the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, both of which see great potential in the timber building industry. “The University of Arkansas has been a leader in showcasing all the benefits of mass timber architecture,” said Carlton Owen, CEO of the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities., in a press statement “We are looking forward to the results of a leading architectural university working with this year’s Pritzker Prize winners to take wood-based architecture to new heights.” The comprehensive design phase for the Anthony Timberlands Center is scheduled to begin this summer.
Placeholder Alt Text

Here are the 2020 U.S. WoodWorks Wood Design Awards winners

Jury’s Choice

This year's jury consisted of:

Danny Adams, Principal, LS3P Associates Marsha Maytum, Principal, Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects Eric McDonnell, Principal, Holmes Structures Matt Shaw, Contributing Editor, The Architect’s Newspaper

Project: First Tech Federal Credit Union Location: Hillsboro, Oregon Architect: Hacker Structural Engineer: Kramer Gehlen & Associates Contractor: Swinerton Builders First Tech Federal Credit Union’s motto is People First—and its new Oregon campus is designed to support and promote the health, comfort, and happiness of employees. Open offices are designed with an emphasis on equal access to natural light and views, and work stations are arranged to ensure that all employees can benefit from biophilic opportunities. Much of the building’s design draws on the beauty of the wood structural system, which is visible throughout the building. Glulam columns and beams frame floor-to-ceiling views to the park and the creek that surrounds the site on three sides. Raised floors conceal HVAC, electrical, and low-voltage systems, contributing to clear, uncluttered spaces that showcase the simple beauty of the cross-laminated timber ceilings. On the ground floor, a central commons with stadium-style seating ascends into a double-height atrium capable of accommodating large gatherings and presentations. LEED Gold-certified, the building achieved an exemplary score in the regional materials category as all of the columns, beams, and CLT panels were sourced and refined within 500 miles of the site. 156,000 square feet / Type III-A construction

Multi-Family Wood Design

Project: Adohi Hall Location: Fayetteville, Arkansas Architect: Leers Weinzapfel Associates; modus studio (AOR); Mackey Mitchell Architects Structural Engineer: Equilibrium ConsultingEngineering Consultants, Inc. Contractor: Nabholz Construction Adohi Hall at the University of Arkansas is the nation’s first large-scale mass timber student housing facility. A bold demonstration of sustainability, the 708-bed complex includes three main volumes, linked together to create a serpentine form set into a sloped site. Buildings A and B include five stories of mass timber—a cross-laminated timber floor and ceiling system supported by glulam columns and beams—over a concrete podium and partial basement. Building C is a one-story volume linking the two residential buildings. Maintaining acoustical separation was a significant issue. To expose the CLT ceilings, acoustical treatment was concentrated on top of the panels. To minimize the depth of the panel topping, and thus the floor-to-floor height, the team used an ultra-thin sound attenuation mat topped with less than 2 inches of heavyweight gypcrete and luxury vinyl tile planks—which surpassed the required STC rating of 50 between sleeping quarters. The use of wood both structurally and aesthetically makes this project a groundbreaking example of student housing design. 202,000 square feet / Type III-B construction

Commercial Mid-Rise

Project: 111 East Grand Location: Des Moines, Iowa Architect: Neumann Monson Architects Structural Engineer: Raker Rhodes Engineering, StructureCraft Contractor: Ryan Companies Anchoring a high-visibility site in Des Moines’ historic East Village, 111 East Grand includes three stories of offices above retail and restaurant spaces on the ground floor. It is the first multi-story office building to include floor and roof decks made from dowel-laminated timber. The DLT panels are supported by glulam post-and-beam framing, and the building is buttressed by a concrete core on the south face for lateral stability. Leveraging a unique benefit of mass timber, much of the structure is left exposed on the interior. This minimizes the need for tenant improvement while providing visual, tactile, and olfactive stimulation to the building’s occupants. Operable windows allow natural ventilation, and balconies on the west provide downtown views. The project is innovative in both design and delivery. From the outset, the core design team of architect and structural engineer collaborated closely with the mass timber engineers and general contractor. This enabled 111 East Grand to push boundaries and convey the accessibility of mass timber building design through its ultimate success. 66,000 square feet / Type III-B construction

Commercial Low-Rise

Project: Redfox Commons Location: Portland, Oregon Architect: LEVER Architecture Structural Engineer: KPFF Consulting Engineers Contractor: R&H Construction This adaptive reuse project transforms a pair of World War II-era warehouses into a light-filled campus for creative office tenants. Recognizing the historic and environmental significance of the existing wood structures, the renovation preserves and restores the original lumber. The trusses were sandblasted and remain exposed, highlighting the wood’s natural beauty. New 80-foot-wide clerestory windows were added to each roof to bring light into the large open floor plates, which are distinguished by column-free spans of 100 feet. To uphold the project’s heritage, both buildings were rebuilt using an industrial vernacular of ribbon windows and weathering steel cladding. During demolition, wood from an overbuilt mezzanine was salvaged to create a new timber and glass entrance structure that connects the two buildings. Over 6,500 linear feet of 4-by-12-inch boards were reclaimed, varying in length from 12 to 24 feet. The boards were fastened around new glulam members using large wood screws to create distinctive columns and beams. This innovative use of wood creates a welcoming entry that is expressive of both the project’s heritage and environmentally-conscious design. 60,000 square feet / Type III-B construction

Wood in Government Buildings

Project: Long Beach Civic Center⁠—Billie Jean King Main Library Location: Long Beach, California Architect: SOM ǀ Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Structural Engineer: SOM ǀ Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Contractor: Clark Construction Installer: WS Klem Located adjacent to historic Lincoln Park, the Billie Jean King Main Library provides a welcoming and flexible environment, with interior space organized into discrete and identifiable areas that maximize the use of square footage while enhancing accessibility. Built over an existing parking structure, the hybrid building includes an exposed glulam roof system over steel framing. It offers a variety of spaces, including group study rooms, independent study areas, a technology-driven makerspace, community center, and large central atrium that provides abundant natural light. Targeting LEED certification, the building also features rooftop photovoltaic cells, daylighting strategies, controlled air ventilation systems, and extensive glazing with architectural overhangs for solar protection.  The library is part of the Long Beach Civic Center Master Plan, designed by SOM to revitalize 22 acres of downtown Long Beach by creating a vibrant, mixed-use district. 96,000 square feet / Type IV construction

Wood in Schools

Project: Arts and Technology Academy Location: Eugene, Oregon Architect: Opsis Architecture; Rowell Brokaw Architects (AOR) Structural Engineer: catena consulting engineers Contractor: Hyland Construction As a teaching tool for middle school students to explore and learn about the interaction between the natural and built world, the Arts and Technology Academy’s honest and tectonic expression of structure, exposed building systems, natural materials, and daylighting create a physical environment conducive to a STE(A)M-centric curriculum. An iconic, umbrella-like folding roof comprised of steel frames, glulam beams, and wood decking—all left exposed—stretches across the length of the building above continuous clerestory windows. Appearing to float, it cantilevers in various locations, offering protection from the elements while creating a warm and inviting interior environment. Various sloped roof profiles pay homage to the surrounding residential vernacular while visually bridging the scale of the project’s two-story massing and surrounding one-story homes. An expansive photovoltaic array adorns the south-facing roof. Ample exterior glazing maximizes daylight and views during the day while serving as a warmly-lit community beacon at night. 95,718 square feet / Type IIIB construction

Institutional

Project: Oregon Conservation Center Location: Portland, Oregon Architect: LEVER Architecture Structural Engineer: KPFF Consulting Engineers Contractor: Lease Crutcher Lewis A blend of mass timber and light wood-frame construction, this renovation and expansion of The Nature Conservancy’s Oregon headquarters transforms a dated office building into a collaborative hub that reflects the environmental mission of its owner. Central to the upgrade is the addition of a 2,000-square-foot ground-level pavilion that serves as a gathering space for public events and collaborations. The building achieved LEED Gold certification, with features that include domestically-fabricated and FSC-certified cross-laminated timber panels, rooftop photovoltaics that produce 25 percent of the building’s electrical supply, efficient building systems and fixtures that reduce electricity consumption by 54 percent and water consumption by 44 percent, and a landscaping and subsurface filtration system to manage stormwater. Abundant daylighting, operable windows, and the use of local materials enhance comfort and connect occupants to the neighborhood and greater region. 15,000 square feet / Type VB construction

Green Building with Wood

Project: Oregon Zoo Education Center Location: Portland, Oregon Architect: Opsis Architecture; Jones and Jones (zoo design; insect zoo architect) Structural Engineer: catena consulting engineers Contractor: Fortis Construction Guided by the Zoo’s central theme, Small Things Matter, the design of this LEED Platinum-certified Education Center brings together a number of architectural and exhibition elements to create teachable, sustainable moments. Built with a combination of heavy timber, light wood framing, and steel, the two single-story buildings are inspired by the circular, woven nature of a bird’s nest; the resulting architecture creates an intertwined relationship between indoor and outdoor spaces that blends into the zoo’s landscape and exhibits. The sweeping cantilevered glulam entry roof and cedar-clad exterior draw visitors into the lobby’s interactive displays, insect exhibit, and event space. Sustainable design strategies include an expansive rooftop photovoltaic array, rain gardens with 90 species of native plants that provide wildlife habitat while cleaning stormwater for reuse, bird-friendly lighting, and fritted glass windows. The Center is expected to achieve net-zero energy certification. 20,000 square feet / Type V-B construction

Beauty of Wood

Project: Trailhead Building at Theodore Wirth Park Location: Minneapolis, ‎Minnesota Architect: HGA Structural Engineer: HGA Contractor: Kalcon A gateway to the Nordic ski and mountain bike trails of the Minneapolis Parks System, the trailhead building is used extensively by the public and area high schools for training and competitive meets. The highlight is an innovative mass timber roof that cantilevers in two orthogonal directions, tapers to a point at its tip, and is fully exposed on the interior. Glulam girders cantilever from 10 to 25 feet, following the trapezoidal shape of the roof, and are supported in part by a colonnade of Douglas-fir glulam columns and wood-frame walls. The unique roof and colonnade provide an elegant entry, while exposed wood on the interior creates a natural connection between gathering spaces and the outdoors. While embracing its surroundings with the use of mass timber, this building has also been embraced by its community. It was chosen as a hosting facility for the 2020 Cross Country Ski World Cup. 14,200 square feet / Type V-A construction

Adaptable and Durable Wood Structures

Project: Julia Morgan Hall Location: Berkeley, California Architect: Siegel & Strain Architects Structural Engineer: Bluestone Engineering Contractor: James R. Griffin Built in 1911, this Senior Women’s Hall at UC Berkeley is an elegant redwood bungalow with exposed wall and roof framing and a natural-finish interior. The building served as a gathering place for female students until 1969, when it was converted into a childcare center. First relocated in 1946, it was moved again in 2014—to the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden. To extricate the structure from its site and negotiate a winding road with overhanging trees, the building was divided into four segments, which were reassembled at the Garden, rehabilitated, and upgraded to meet current accessibility standards. All of the work—including cutting, installation, subsequent removal of temporary shoring and protection, and reassembly—had to be carefully executed to avoid damage. The exposed interior wood components required only minimal staining to conceal wear and tear, while the rich wood floors were refinished. The redwood siding was replaced as required and painted, and the team added a new wood porch. 2,255 square feet / Type V-B construction

Regional Excellence Awards

Project: 901 East Sixth Location: Austin, Texas Architect: TB/DS (Thoughtbarn/Delineate Studio) Structural Engineer: Leap!Structures Contractor: DCA Construction A design goal for this five-story office building was to make it seem at home in the creative, light industrial neighborhood of East Side Austin.  The structure is a hybrid of exposed cross-laminated timber floor and ceiling systems, and exposed steel—and is the first of its kind in Texas. It is clad in Corten steel, which forms a stable, rust-like appearance over time. A double-height lobby with a 25-foot bi-fold door allows the space to be opened to the street during special events; it also serves as a showcase for the exposed wood ceiling and full-height feature wall made from CLT off-cuts. 901 East Sixth achieved LEED Gold certification and was fully leased before construction was complete—at rates significantly exceeding the original pro forma. The project has been a celebrated financial success for its developers while receiving an enthusiastic reception from the public. 128,000 square feet / Type III-A construction Project: CoǀLab Location: Falls Church, Virginia Architect: William McDonough + Partners MEP Engineer: Staengl Engineering Contractor: HITT Contracting This unique project is intended to serve as a nucleus for research and testing of emerging technologies, products, and practices that will transform the construction industry. HITT Contracting envisioned Co|Lab as a showcase for building innovation that would utilize as many healthy materials as possible and exhibit smart emerging design and construction technologies. The mass timber structure—which includes cross-laminated timber walls and ceilings supported by glulam columns and beams—was chosen for its aesthetic, multi-sensory characteristics, light carbon footprint, and speed of construction. The design is based on cradle-to-cradle principles; instead of minimizing the building’s negative environmental footprint, the team wanted a beneficial footprint. Co|Lab is LEED Platinum-certified, and HITT is pursuing both Net Zero Energy and Petal certification. It was the first CLT structure in Virginia and the first commercial mass timber building in metropolitan DC. 8,650 square feet / Type V-B construction Project: The Continuum Location: Lake City, South Carolina Architect: McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture Structural Engineer: Britt Peters & Associates Contractor: Thompson Turner Construction The Continuum is an innovative campus serving college, continuing education, and high school students in northeast South Carolina. After exploring options, the design team chose to renovate an existing big-box retail shell adjacent to downtown Lake City—but they added a unique structural solution. The roof of the central corridor was replaced with a large mass timber structure. Comprised of glulam columns and beams and nail-laminated timber decking, the addition allows daylight to penetrate to the center of the former retail floor. From the site plan and exterior façade to the interior finishes, the design is inspired by the imagery of the region’s deconstructed barns. As visitors approach the plaza, the view down the road reaches a reflection pool that runs under an extended overhang of the soaring NLT deck and into a green space intended for art installations. By strategically dividing and removing some of the existing structure with the glulam clerestory, the design creates circulation spaces flooded with light that invite students to gather. Linked by these open spaces, the building incorporates multiple educational functions into one cohesive floor plan. 46,592 square feet / Type IV construction Project: MFAH Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation Center for Conservation Location: Houston, Texas Architect: LakeǀFlato Architects; Kendall/Heaton Architects (AOR) Structural Engineer: Cardno Haynes Whaley Contractor: WS Bellows Wood Structure & Engineering Consultant: StructureCraft Builders Art conservation facilities tend to be thought of as sterile laboratory spaces, but that isn’t true of this one. From the outset, the design team wanted to incorporate natural biophilic materials, specifically wood, to provide an appropriate warmth and texture to the laboratory environment. This hybrid project includes glulam columns and beams and dowel-laminated timber roof panels, as well as steel structural elements. The DLT roof is left exposed, offering a welcome contrast to the wall finishes that are necessarily neutral. The overall result blends the science and art of conservation to create spaces that perform superbly to their technical requirements while offering a warm and welcoming work environment for the art conservators. 30,000 square feet / Type IV construction Project: DPR Office Location: Sacramento, California Architect: SmithGroup Structural Engineer: Buehler Engineering Contractor: DPR Construction When DPR Construction decided to relocate its office to downtown Sacramento, it was seeking to connect with the community it serves on a deeper level. In choosing mass timber, it also saw an opportunity to give employees the benefits of a biophilic design and enhance their workday experience. The project, which involved adding a second story to a 1940s-era concrete and masonry building, includes cross-laminated timber roof and wall panels, and glulam columns and beams. Among its unique features, the building includes CLT shear walls, a first in California. It also exceeds regulatory requirements, targeting net-positive energy—which reduces its carbon footprint from the standpoint of operations and maintenance. The use of mass timber augments this goal by reducing embodied carbon and acting as a carbon sink. This is DPR’s sixth net-zero energy office, and the firm is seeking LEED Platinum, Petal, and WELL Building certifications. 34,508 square feet / Type V-B construction Project: Pike Place Marketfront Location: Seattle, Washington Architect: The Miller Hull Partnership Structural Engineer: Magnusson Klemencic Associates Contractor: Sellen Construction Pike Place MarketFront adds 50 vendor stalls; 40 low-income and senior apartments; commercial, retail and office space; a public roof terrace and walkways; and 300 underground parking spaces to the Pike Place Market Historic District in Seattle. Comprised primarily of heavy timber, light wood framing, and cast-in-place concrete, the project draws contextual inspiration from the simple utilitarian character of the existing market. This historic precedent, combined with timber’s carbon-negative footprint, abundant local sourcing, and speed of erection, made it an easy choice for the project team. While timber is typically used to support gravity loads, the structural engineer designed composite timber and steel framing members to manage portions of the building’s lateral loads. Enclosed by a timber-frame glazing system, the monumental structure includes a vibrant hall housing retail and restaurant spaces while preserving historic views of Puget Sound. Heavy timber columns, beams, and decking serve as both structure and finish, bringing the natural beauty of wood to the space. 210,000 square feet / Type IV construction Project: Rhode Island School of Design – North Hall Location:  Providence, Rhode Island Architect: NADAAA Structural Engineer: Odeh Engineers Contractor: Shawmut Design and Construction For this six-story residence hall at RISD, the design team chose a hybrid system of cross-laminated timber floor and ceiling panels supported by steel framing to achieve goals that included beautiful design, environmental sustainability, and an aggressive construction schedule. Exposed CLT ceilings add beauty while echoing themes of sustainability that students experience as part of the school’s curriculum. In addition to reducing the project’s carbon footprint through the use of CLT, the new hall is expected to use a quarter less energy and less than half the water of a typical residential structure of similar size. The system also provided a schedule advantage. Working closely with the fabricator, the team optimized the layout of panels to minimize erection time. Five-ply panels were manufactured in 8-by-50-foot spans—allowing a single panel to span the building’s width. The erector exceeded expectations by completing the superstructure in less than three weeks. By prioritizing innovation and working to achieve a shared vision, the RISD project team successfully brought the first hybrid CLT-steel residence hall in New England to life. 40,790 square feet / Type III-B construction Project: Sideyard Location: Portland, Oregon Architect: Skylab Structural Engineer: catena consulting engineers Contractor: Andersen Construction Photos: Stephen Miller When the City of Portland built a new one-way couplet connecting to the Burnside Bridge, it created a leftover berm space that is now home to Sideyard. Shaped like a wedge, this five-story project prioritizes access to public transportation, bicycle access, and pedestrian openness. It includes retail and restaurant space at street level, additional retail on the second floor, and office space above. The structure includes a cross-laminated timber floor and roof system supported by a glulam post-and-beam frame, with concrete lateral cores. Sideyard is part of the new Central  Eastside community envisioned in the Burnside Bridgehead Framework Plan, designed to strengthen the connectivity of the area with the Westside downtown core. Its use of locally-sourced materials showcases Oregon wood species in a truly unique fashion. 23,202 square feet / Type III-A construction Project: Tre Søstre Location: Grand Marais, MMinnesota Architect: Salmela Architect Structural Engineer: Meyer Borgman Johnson Contractor: Taiga Design + Build Tre Søstre is located in a former fishing village, close to the shore of Lake Superior. Two decades ago, the owners purchased the abandoned property, converted three severely damaged buildings into rental units, and built a heavy timber “boathouse” as their own live/work space. They recently added three units—designed to make a bold statement while remaining sensitive to the scale and materials of the neighborhood. Despite modest footprints, the structures include multiple cantilevered volumes and decks, a strategy inspired by Scandinavian farm buildings. Each unit has a covered entry deck located above grade. Interior stairs lead down to ground-level and up to second-floor bedrooms. The top floors cantilever to the east, creating an open living space with unobstructed views while providing cover for the patios and decks off the bedrooms below. Spatial adjacencies were carefully considered to provide areas of protected privacy and open gathering within a relatively dense cluster of units. 3,440 square feet / Type V-B construction
Placeholder Alt Text

America's largest mass timber building opens at the University of Arkansas

America’s largest mass timber building has opened at the University of Arkansas. Spread across a series of interconnected structures, Adohi Hall is a 202,027-square-foot residential project constructed from cross-laminated timber. Boston-based Leers Weinzapfel Associates led a national design team of heavy hitters for the $79 million project: local practice modus studio, the St. Louis-based Mackey Mitchell Architects, and Philadelphia's OLIN helped bring the sustainable, 708-bed student complex to life. Located on a sloping, four-acre site on the Fayetteville campus’s hilly southern end, Adohi Hall features a nature-centric design with room for classrooms, a community kitchen, lounges, a rooftop terrace, and more.  Linked by a ground-level passage called the “cabin,” the large-scale, dual-volume complex snakes around the linear lot and is configured around three courtyards. As the nation’s first CLT "living learning" setting, Adohi Hall was built for undergraduates but is also targeted for architecture, design, and art students, and features ample programming to reflect that. Throughout the four-story facility, communal areas encourage collaboration while “workshops,” or maker spaces, provide students with the opportunity to rehearse or host performances, record music, or participate in other live/learn events. The design team integrated exposed structural wood throughout the project to remind residents and visitors of the building’s groundbreaking construction. Exposed timber columns, ceilings, and trusses bring a sense of warmth to the interior spaces, while generous light also shines in through the floor-to-ceiling glass windows in the cabin area and provides views of the surrounding landscape designed by OLIN. The majority of Adohi Hall’s facade, which lightly cantilevers over the first-floor, is less obviously about wood and features zinc-toned paneling with copper and white accents. In a statement, Andrea P. Leers, principal of Leers Weinzapfel, noted the stark contrast between Adohi Hall and the other Collegiate Gothic-style architecture on the university’s campus. She noted that the contemporary residential building is fitting for the site despite its differences, especially given the administration’s commitment to sustainable design. “We drew inspiration from the regional context of the Ozarks, creating a living/learning environment powerful enough to be a destination remote from the center of campus,” said Leers, “and the wood-based construction system we developed forges a bond between setting, human comfort, and sustainability.”  Adohi Hall (adohi meaning woods in Cherokee) was named as a tribute to the tribe members who passed by the site on the Trail of Tears. The area’s long history as a heavily forested region motivated the architects and the university to pursue this ambitious mass timber project. Leers Weinapfel Associates told Architectural Record that they responsibly-sourced European spruce, pine, and fir for the structural components of Adohi Hall, while cypress was selected to outfit the interior.  It makes sense that the University of Arkansas—with its Fay Jones School of Architecture committed to researching and teaching wood-based construction—would be the first school in the country to build a large, CLT-based residential complex. As mass timber manufacturing grows in Arkansas and the surrounding states, it’s a possibility that other Southern institutions will follow Adohi Hall’s lead.
Placeholder Alt Text

A twisting treehouse by modus studio blooms above the forest floor

Following a soft opening last June, Modus Studio’s hovering Tree House has been captured amid its fully-installed landscape in the firm’s native Arkansas. Tree House sits above the Garvan Woodland Gardens, a 210-acre botanical garden owned by the University of Arkansas—frequent Modus collaborators. Rather than sitting at the base of the oak and pine trees found in the Evans Children’s Adventure Garden, Tree House has been elevated to the top of the forest, allowing for expansive views of the canopy. The L-shaped treehouse snakes through the trees, ballooning from a child-sized opening at one end to a two-story observation area, capped with a steel screen, fabricated in-house by Modus, that mimics leaflike capillaries. Other than its biomorphic shape, the treehouse is strongly defined by its central steel spine and 113 timber ribs, which were sourced from local Southern Yellow Pine. The fins simultaneously allow the elements to pass through the treehouse while potentially obscuring the forest and adding a sense of mystery for the occupants. The first of three planned treehouses, the structure was envisioned as a refuge for children to explore the outdoors while learning about nature. Everything from the infrastructure, to the programming, to the intricate finishes, reference dendrology, the study of trees. Visitors can access the treehouse either from an elevated trail or directly from a staircase at the forest’s floor. The Fayetteville-based modus, an Emerging Voices 2018 winner, cited its deep ties to Arkansas’s rural landscape in designing Tree House and were directly involved in every step of the project's process.
Placeholder Alt Text

Snaking Tree House from modus studio opens to the public this weekend

Emerging Voices winner modus studio has nearly completed a floating treehouse in the Garvan Woodland Gardens of their native Arkansas. The twisting timber Tree House rises between the oak and pine trees of the Evans Children’s Adventure Garden and is designed both to mimic the surrounding woods as well as to draw children back into nature. A soft opening for the Tree House this Saturday will cap several years of construction. Garvan Woodland Gardens is the University of Arkansas’s 210-acre botanical garden, and one of only eight public woodland gardens in the country. Modus is a frequent collaborator with the university, having most recently completed the transformation of the school’s sculpture studio. The Tree House is the first of three proposed for the woods, and modus took design cues from nature to create an arboreal play space that doubles as an educational station where visitors can learn about how trees grow. As visitors follow a suspended catwalk through the woods and the foliage recedes, visitors are gradually confronted with the Tree House’s mass. The curved Tree House reaches two stories at one end and tapers to a child-sized window at the other. The curvilinear plan, combined with the timber ribs that make up the tree house’s open structure, creates a biomorphic shape that references the expansion of tree rings. The screen created by the gaps in the scaffolding regulates light, creates unique vantage points for visitors at different parts of the tree house, and allows the building to further blend into the forest. The Tree House is rife with other biophilic touches. A timber staircase allows children to descend to the Root Plaza below, where they can experience the foliage from ground-level (or ascend up to the canopy from a trail). Inside, modus used their in-house fabrication shop to build a steel screen reminiscent of a decaying leaf, capping the tree house’s larger end while still allowing views out to the forest. Slices from native trees, bark, and other teaching tools inside the treehouse build on what modus calls the “theme of dendrology, the study of trees and wooded plants” to drive programming. The privately funded, $1.8 million project will hold its “soft” opening to the public this weekend as the landscaping underneath and some interior components are not fully installed yet. A full grand opening is expected for the fall. AN will update this article to include completed photos of the Tree House after its opening on June 30.
Placeholder Alt Text

Sculpture studio at University of Arkansas celebrates the pre-engineered metal building

facadeplus_logo1
Brought to you with support from ->
The sculpture studio facility for the University of Arkansas, a design collaboration between Modus Studio and El Dorado Inc., is the first completed building for a new remote arts and design district for their campus. The project expands an existing pre-engineered metal building warehouse, through selective renovation and addition, into a simple, refined form. It provides natural daylight for studios inside and draws a connection to the context through the interplay of translucent and opaque materials.
 
  • Facade Manufacturer ATAS International (metal panels), Crystal Structures (polycarbonate windows)
  • Architects Modus Studio, El Dorado Inc.
  • Facade Installer Alliance Steel Incorporated (pre-engineered metal building, short-ribbed metal panels), Crystal Structures (polycarbonate windows)
  • Facade Consultants Bernhard TME (mechanical engineers), Entegrity (sustainability consultant)
  • Location Fayetteville, AR
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System Pre-engineered metal building, short-ribbed aluminum panels, polycarbonate windows with aluminum frame
  • Products ATAS International Belvedere short-rib panel with Kynar white finish (opaque and perforated), Gallina USA polycarbonate panels
The design teams at Modus Studio and El Dorado decided to keep the existing building structure and continue the original detailing. The building was stripped down to the bones and the same pre-engineered metal building profile was used to create the new addition. The project more than doubles the existing footprint of the pre-engineered warehouse on the east and, with exterior porches of structural steel on either side that allowed for a layer of customization within the otherwise standardized facade system. The material palette consists primarily of the same short-ribbed aluminum panel with variations in color and opacity. The majority of the structure is clad in solid aluminum panels with a white Kynar finish. The same panel, with a twenty-three-percent perforation, is applied at either end of the building to denote the two exterior porches. These open-air bays needed to be shaded while allowing light in the flexible spaces on the perimeter of the building. They provide a visual connection with the surrounding context and allow people to see in while passing on the street or nearby trail. Additionally, flat aluminum panels are used as a backdrop for the perforated facade at the exterior porches. The building continues the conversation of opacity and translucency into the design and detailing of the windows. Constructed with an aluminum frame, the windows use a translucent polycarbonate to filter light. The purpose of the polycarbonate is to wash the interior spaces with consistent daylight during the day and project interior light towards the exterior at night. The windows are not a part of the pre-engineered assembly and had to be detailed in a different way. The project team saw this as an opportunity to celebrate this connection and positioned the windows at the columns of the main structural frames. From the interior, this exposes the detailing of the pre-engineered system rather than hiding it. The moments where the materials meet each other were of particular significance to the design teams at Modus Studio and El Dorado. This can be seen in the way that the trim is treated around the entire building. The architects wanted the trim to always be made of the adjacent material, so that the wrapping of material continued on all surfaces without interruption. Additionally, the downspouts were located at panel joints to hide the small shadow line and continue the wrapping of the facade. Jody Verser, the project manager at Modus Studio, told AN in an interview, “In one particular area, on the northwest side of the building in the foundry, we had a concrete wall, an elevated concrete floor, a concrete slab on grade, structural steel, pre-engineered metal building frame, perforated panel, opaque panel, and a corner downspout, everything coming together at one spot.” It was a game of coordination between both project teams and the contractors to arrive at the right solution and continue that logic throughout the project.

Emerging Voices 2018 Night 1: modus studio, Future Green Studio

Emerging Voices 2018

Chris Baribeau, modus studio, Fayetteville David Seiter, Future Green Studio, Brooklyn Introduced by Jing Liu 1.5 AIA and New York State CEUs The first evening of the annual Emerging Voices lecture series. Emerging Voices spotlights individuals and firms based in the United States, Canada, or Mexico with distinct design voices and the potential to influence the disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture, and urbanism.

Established in 2008, modus studio works across a variety of scales, from furniture design to master planning. The studio is founded on the idea that “relevant and inspiring architecture can be sourced from simple, everyday experiences.” Recent projects include Green Forest Middle School, a reinterpretation of traditional school design for a small agricultural community; Eco Modern Flats, a renovation of four dated Fayetteville apartment buildings to improve aesthetics, performance, and sustainability; and a transformation of a warehouse on a brownfield site into a University of Arkansas sculpture studio.

David Seiter established Future Green Studio in 2008 as a landscape architecture firm that recognizes a “deep integration” between architecture and landscape with an emphasis on research, fabrication, and horticulture. Recent projects include Nowadays, a Queens performance venue with a laid-back, parklike atmosphere; Spontaneous Urban Plants: Weeds in NYC, a book promoting the aesthetic and ecological benefits of weeds; and Half Street, a block-long pedestrian plaza in Washington, D.C. that uses green infrastructure to manage stormwater runoff.

Jing Liu is a co-founding Principal at New York-based SO-IL and is a past Emerging Voices winner in 2013. She has been a faculty member at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation since 2009 and advises the Master’s thesis at Parsons The New School of Design. Liu served on this year’s Emerging Voices committee.
Placeholder Alt Text

Modus Studio gets ahead by sticking to its Arkansas roots

The Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices award and lecture series highlights individuals and firms with distinct design “voices”, singling out those with the potential to go on to even greater heights. 2018 saw two rounds of judging; first by a panel of past Emerging Voices winners, and a second to pick the winners. The first-round jury included Virginia San Fratello, Sebastian Schmaling, Wonne Ickx, Lola Sheppard, Marcelo Spina, Carlos Jimenez, and Marlon Blackwell, as well as members of the second-round jury, Sunil Bald, Lisa Gray, Stella Betts, Jing Liu, Paul Makovsky, Tom Phifer, Chris Reed, and Billie Tsien. AN profiled all of the emerging voices firms in our February print issue. Modus Studio founder Chris Baribeau will deliver his lecture on March 1st, 2018, at the SVA Theatre in Manhattan. Modus Studio might have started in 2008 as a two-man operation in cofounder Chris Baribeau’s back office, but the firm’s expansion to 24 people and a full fabrication shop shouldn’t have come as a surprise. The office’s intensive focus on the surrounding Arkansas environment and their hands-on approach have drawn attention both inside and outside of the state. “A thinking–making philosophy really evolved out of our passions, from working through college, working on construction, working on fabrication,” explained Baribeau. “It set the tone for the rest of our professional work.” Modus is a frequent collaborator with the University of Arkansas and has designed for the school a pair of mass timber residence halls, an athletic area master plan, and, most recently, a sculpture studio— although the firm has realized nearly every type of project. Its single-family homes typically draw on the surrounding geographies and ecosystems to influence the final forms, as is the case with Van Huset on the Bluff, a stark cabin overlooking Beaver Lake, in northwest Arkansas. Educational work has a special place in the studio’s canon. Green Forest Middle School, Modus’s first project, was also the first school that either Baribeau or cofounder Josh Siebert had ever worked on. Having to leap into a new building typology meant engaging heavily with the community at every step of the school’s design and construction, an approach that has carried over to all of their projects afterward. Timber and sustainability are prominent through-lines in many of Modus’s built works, no matter the intended use. Working with timber allows the studio to harvest wood directly from the trees on-site, or if they’re not able to do so, connect with Arkansas’s timber industry. Even Modus’s Fayetteville office, a reclaimed warehouse clad in timber that was charred in the fabrication shop, is winning notice, as it was Arkansas’s only LEED Platinum– certified building in 2017. “We’re very connected to the natural world,” said Baribeau. “And being in the Ozarks, the language of the rugged mountains and valleys and rivers connects us to the outdoor world. We’re straddling this dynamic place that’s somewhere between the manmade and the natural world. Our buildings are about fitting into the landscape and drawing inspiration from the context around the site.” Modus views its location outside of the “major design cities” as a boon. Arkansas is in the process of rebuilding and infilling its urban centers, providing the studio an opportunity to experiment while allowing them to build their brand through projects that serve the community. While Modus has begun working on projects as far north as Illinois, Baribeau is most proud of the K–12 schools that the studio has designed for low-income, rural areas. “We’ve found, particularly in this region of Arkansas, how rural communities are really underserved in terms of good design. The hub of that community, their tax money, the local football team, all focuses around the public school. For us, the ongoing tilling of the soil is to raise the bar for rural communities."