Posts tagged with "Oyler Wu":

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Oyler Wu goes big in Taipei with a pixel- and line-based apartment facade

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On the inside, Los Angeles–based Oyler Wu Collaborative’s 30-unit Monarch tower in Taipei, Taiwan, is pretty much a typical speculative multifamily project developed according to local building customs. Because of building codes, structural columns—typically measuring upward of three feet in thickness to account for the region’s strong seismicity—are not counted as part of floor-to-area ratio for these types of projects. As a result, the structural columns for these new developments are placed outside the building’s outermost facades in order to maximize internal floor area and leave unobstructed floor plates. The arrangement creates a vertically-striated exterior structural grid that, due to the massive columns, leaves a void where exterior balconies can be placed.

  • Principal Architects  Dwayne Oyler; Jenny Wu
  • Design Team Huy Le; Sanjay Sukie; Shouquan Sun; Yaohua Wang;Lung Chi Chang; Richard Lucero; Chris Eskew; Mike Piscitello
  • Photography PoYao Shih
  • Client JUT land Development
  • Location Taipei, Taiwan
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System projecting steel framed balconies
  • Products bespokeexterior paneling assembly (expanded aluminum mesh; fritted glass; aluminum panels)
For the 15-story Monarch tower project, Oyler Wu utilized these spaces to create a lively facade that showcases a complex patchwork of extruded aluminum mesh, painted steel elements, fritted glass, and overhanging solid aluminum panel assemblies. The balconies are structured with light-gauge metal tube handrails infilled with glass panels, with the each balcony assembly wrapped in an aluminum tube screen frame that is filled in alternately with glass or mesh. The resulting balconies reflect the square-shaped building’s alternating exposures, growing to over eight feet in depth along the principal southern face with a shallower, five-foot-deep articulation on other facades. “We wanted to insert dynamic variety into the Taipei apartment type,” Dwayne Oyler of Oyler Wu Collaborative said. He added that the unconventional project—the interiors of which were already designed by Jut Land Development’s in-house team of architects when Oyler Wu came on board—represented an unconventional way of working for the firm at a scale previously only explored via speculative research. The balconies are structured with steel supports that were calibrated to account for seismic activity and then incorporated into the shifting design. The architects worked with the developer and future residents to envision a idiosyncratic strategy for deploying the mesh screens within this matrix, including using the material along bathroom and bedroom windows in order to maximize privacy in Taipei’s dense urban condition. The strategy was augmented with the projecting balconies, which shift position across the facade in conjunction with the panels in order to accommodate predetermined—and non-negotiable—window and door openings that came with the developer-driven design. Oyler Wu also designed the building’s ground floor lobby and public spaces. Jenny Wu, principal at the firm, explained that her team was “trying to make the public spaces on interior feel like an extension of the exterior” aesthetically as well as functionally. “There’s nothing quite like it in Taipei,” she said.
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Columbus, Indiana…Don’t call it a comeback

Columbus, Indiana, is known for its legacy of midcentury, late modern, and postmodern architecture, most of which was commissioned by industrialist J.I. Miller and his pals in the 1950s, 60s , and 70s. While it is true that Miller is a “Midwest Medici” and  hugely influential on the town’s success, it is best to understand the town’s design legacy not as a series of architectural “gems” that mark the passage of time like a museum—eight National Historical Landmarks and a collection of over 50 notable works by important architects—but rather as the embodiment of a living system of socio-political values that have come to define the town. It is often said that all political systems are most successful at a small scale: Their progress is most palpable and their systems less corruptible. In Columbus, this can be seen in the town’s almost-impeccable history of public-private partnerships, where a group of leading businesspeople and community leaders realized what could be seen as the American industrial capitalist dream—and along with it—at least a part of the modernist architectural project. Recently, a group of patrons (who of course know Miller and his legacy) and world-class arts administrators have come together to continue this tradition of design and community. This exhibition, called Exhibit Columbus, is a town-wide festival of design, including five large-scale architectural installations by winners of the inaugural “J. Irwin and Xenia Miller Prize;” a series of small design interventions along the main downtown commercial corridor; and several pavilions designed by local universities and high school students. This could be read as another “biennial,” or “Design Week” alongside the growing list: Seoul, Venice, Oslo, Chicago, Lisbon, Vienna, Eindhoven, Ljubljana, New York, London, Miami, Mexico City, Shenzhen, Beijing, Stockholm, and Milan. However, the first biannual Exhibit Columbus proved to be something different. For starters, the original name “Columbus Design Biennale” was abandoned because, according to Director of Landmark Columbus Richard McCoy, "we wanted to put Columbus’s history on display rather than explore the current trends in design." This perfectly demonstrates how the primary focus of the event is not on engaging global discourse, but continuing and re-aestheticizing the design culture of the place by connecting the residents of the town. This might prove to be the best lesson from Exhibit Columbus: How to engage with the heritage of a place while pushing forward cutting-edge design. In this context, the word “continuing” is particularly important here, as it would be easy to look at this as a “revival” or a “renaissance,” where the legacy of Mr. Miller is exhumed from the grave by a new generation of design-minded leaders. However, the truth is that this mentality never really left, it has been influencing the town quietly ever since the first notable building was built. Columbus is an exception. It has a thriving economy with the highest percentage of its output as foreign exports, as much as 50 percent, according to the Washington Post. It has not seen the Rust Belt-ification of many of its neighboring towns, because local Fortune 200 company Cummins Inc., an engine manufacturer, has somehow managed to remain an industrial giant in the American Midwest and abroad. (It is said that Mr. Miller was the first American to go to China when it opened up trade with the west.) Because the town never descended into a post-industrial dystopia, strong ties to the community and the spirit of collaboration and design excellence also never went away. The underlying phenomena of “The Columbus Way,” a community-based collaborative spirit, was always there—there was never a lack of leadership in the town, or a strong sense of community. It just needed to be re-aestheticized. This idea of continuation is best seen in one of the Miller Prize installations. Oyler Wu’s Exchange is sited at the Irwin Conference Center, which is currently owned by Cummins and used for corporate hospitality, but was originally completed in 1954 by Eero Saarinen and Associates as a flagship branch of the Irwin Union Bank and Trust. The one-story banking hall pointed toward a new type of modernist space unbound by walls and conventional banking architecture, such as cages for the tellers. Instead the new open-planned bank was bound by glass walls. It would be easy to stop here and draw a connection between the white, contemporary forms of the 2017 installation—digital fabrication aesthetics made in L.A. and assembled onsite in Columbus—and the glassy Saarinen bank building, and read it as a sort of new language for Columbus: Less midcentury modern and more digital tectonics as a metaphor for a small Midwestern hamlet turned globalized 21st century networked town. However, there is more to the story than that. In fact, the entire site is less about Saarinen than about a series of urban encounters and transactions that have left that plaza the perfect place to manifest and aestheticize the continuation of the community spirit of Columbus. Oyler Wu chose to build its pavilion around a series of three decommissioned drive-thru bank teller canopies, citing the legacy of Saarinen and “Euclidean geometries, solid-void relationships, and tectonics.” However, these canopies were not designed by Eero Saarinen, but rather by local architect Frank Adams in the 1980s. In fact, when the bank was completed in 1954, the site next to it was still Harrison Motors, an auto dealership. Later, as part of a 1966 Dan Kiley–led landscape extension, three manned teller booths were added in the adjacent lot after it was purchased from the car dealership. It wasn’t until 1973 that a three-story office building was completed by Saarinen’s protégé Kevin Roche of Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates. In the 1980s, the teller booths became pneumatic drive-up stations and the Adams canopies were added. A later renovation was completed by Columbus architect Todd Williams. Considering this more complicated history of the site, it makes the most recent addition to the site, the Oyler Wu pavilion, even more poignant. It is not just Oyler Wu and Saarinen in a clean past-present relationship. It is a literal and figural continuation of myriad complex issues and histories in the town. It—and Exhibit Columbus—is an extension and re-aestheticization of something that never left. The canopies, walls, and benches of The Exchange almost grow organically out of the existing structures, continuing the evolution of the site from an autoyard to a car dealership to a bank to a conference center and then finally to a small urban parklet. Not only does the form continue to complete the implied volumes of the canopies, but it updates the use of said structures into a viable place for urban respite along a main pedestrian thoroughfare. It is certainly a new aesthetic for Columbus, as Oyler Wu’s style comes through in the welded steel forms that mingle with CNC bent steel tubing. Transparent volumes capture space that is suspended in the air, allowing us to see what was already there, but in a new frame—like Exhibit Columbus itself. So what is the impact of Exhibit Columbus and its continuation? For the locals, it is about education and a re-engagement with the design heritage and legacy. But the exhibition can't escape being relevant globally, and it has much to offer as a living, urban laboratory. If we look to some of the more forward-looking design events: The 2017 Shenzhen Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture and its examination of the urban villages in the hyper-local yet hyper-global context of Shenzhen, The Istanbul Design Biennial 2018 and its questioning of the biennial as a site of education, and the Open Design School at Matera European Capital of Culture 2019, where the curators will try to start an academy that they hope will harness the after-effects of a global cultural event in order to invigorate one of the poorest regions of Europe. Some may not want to admit it, but Columbus is now back in its rightful place in discussion with these large global cities, as it has been historically for both design and business reasons. Today, Exhibit Columbus shares DNA with all of the aforementioned projects. How does it uniquely engage with the local community? What will be its immediate and long-term impact on the community, the economy, and the students of the town? What can we learn from Columbus’s attitude about design and community? What new forms of knowledge might arise, or what new forms of design can come from such an important and rich context? What are the new challenges Columbus faces as its demographics change and what opportunities are there to incorporate these new identities into the heritage of the place? Exhibit Columbus is positioned to be a unique voice among many voices in the cultural events sector. Based on the reactions from the community at the opening, and the sustained efforts of McCoy and his team over the duration of the exhibit, it has revived the design heritage of Columbus. “There was a hum that emerged from the exhibition,” Columbus resident Mary Harmon told AN, “What I have really loved is that there was something for all ages, interests ..........ranging from tots to the elderly and those with a knowledge, curiosity and fondness for art and architecture to those who could care less, but felt happier just walking by and seeing the people out and about.” Of course, it can still be improved upon, and it will be a site to watch for those interested in how cultural production can interface with a local community, and even become an integral part of it and its mission to make a place better through architecture and design. Thanks to Will Miller and Enrique Ramirez for their editorial support on this essay.
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Where is that Sculpture? Oyler Wu’s “Cube” Adrift Somewhere in China

One of our favorite duos, Oyler Wu, recently completed its biggest installation to date: The Cube, a twisting, glowing steel and wire concoction for the 2013 Beijing Biennale. The dramatic project is now touring China, but when pressed for the latest news the firm admitted that it is not sure where it is. So if you spot a giant cube somewhere in the country, please give them a ring, will you?
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Oyler Wu, The Graduation Experts, Design Another Pavilion for SCI-Arc

After creating their 2011 and 2012 graduation pavilions for SCI-Arc, Oyler Wu has once again produced a striking structure LA-based school, this time on the occasion of their 4oth anniversary. Dubbed the Storm Cloud pavilion, the structure salvages the existing steel from the 2011 Netscape,  which served as the school’s graduation pavilion two years ago. Looking at Storm Cloud, one can hardly tell it shares much of the bones that made up the older pavilion. “Since the event is in the evening, we wanted create a canopy that has a lantern-like effect when lit, so we came up with the idea of creating funnels that we can place lighting inside of them,” said Oyler Wu principal Jenny Wu of the pavilion’s inspiration. Though the idea was elegant, the couple was challenged by the nature of the stretch fabric itself, which didn’t lend itself to shapes other than a simple rectangle or circle. Oyler Wu overcame this challenge by adopting a “splat” strategy. “This allows us not to have to pattern it,” writes Wu. Instead of cutting uniform, predictable shapes, the pair cut waves at the bottom of the fabric and stretched over the steel structure. Wu provided a clarifying seam drawing explaining her point. The result was a dynamic shade structure that undulated at its based and stretched taut meeting the sky. Lit with colored lights at night, the pavilion was a fitting structure to emphasize the school’s experimental bent and couple’s continually surprising investigations into form.
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Oyler Wu, Take 2

Last year we showcased Oyler Wu's SCI-Arc graduation pavilion, a swooping steel, fabric, and rope construction that floated above the event like a billowing sail. For last week's graduation the firm added a small addition while making significant improvements. The addition, which sat school directors and special guests, became a stage for diploma presentation. Made of a torqued steel shell fitted with twisting fabric (Wu calls it a three dimensional twist), the addition is no replication: it creates a simpler, more unified complement to the original, which involves a more complex web of fabric and roping. As for the original pavilion, they replaced its (disturbingly) dirty fabric with darker material and re-oriented the whole thing toward the school itself. Next year's pavilion will be designed by Marcelo Spina. We can't wait.
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Mesmerizing SCI-Arc Graduation Pavilion

SCI-Arc held its graduation ceremony on Sunday in the parking lot in front of its building in LA's Arts District. And they did it in style: in front of a billowing 60 x 110 foot canopy designed by LA firm Oyler Wu Collaborative, whose principles Dwayne Oyler and Jenny Wu are both SCI-Arc professors.  SCI-Arc director Eric Owen Moss traditionally asks one of the school's faculty to design the  pavilion. For the last four years architect Alexis Rochas has done the honors (check out his design from 2009), but this year he gave the job to Oyler and Wu, who have made a name designing ambitious installations around LA and elsewhere. The team, with the help of both SCI-Arc students and their staff, built a billowing canopy consisting of a steel truss armature wrapped in a a changing grid of knitted rope, interwoven with a slightly translucent nylon mesh material. The structure was built to shelter 900 people. The firm began planning the structure in their graduate seminar this spring and started building it in June, welding, knitting and fastening virtually every day since they started. The rope's gridded pattern was made possible through an old-fashioned knitting technique, in which the team developed giant pegs to recreate what old ladies have been doing for centuries. The ropes' loose loops allowed them to contort the web's shape so it stretches along its edges and takes on varying profiles throughout.The combination of steel rope and fabric somewhat resembles billowing sails on a ship. And the fabric, which creates intriguing shadows as well as providing shade, was angled just right to provide solar protection specifically at graduation time: 5 p.m. Other Oyler Wu installations include Density Fields at Materials & Applications in Silver Lake, Live Wire and Pendulum Plane at WUHO Hollywood, and reALIze at LA Live. But the firm wanted to try something new, working with new materials like rope, mesh and even steel (they had worked primarily in aluminum). Their next goal is to erect an actual building, and it looks like that will happen with a new 16 story residential tower in Taipei. Construction shots of the graduation pavilion below:
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Greatest (Public Art) Of All Time in LA?

Our friends at Oyler Wu are putting the finishing touches on their collaboration with artist Michael Kalish that brings a pixelated face of Muhammad Ali to L.A. Live's plaza in Downtown Los Angeles. The sculpture, reALIze, which has its official unveiling tomorrow night, consists of a large frame of hundreds of aluminum tubes on which 1,300 speed bags are hung via steel cables. From most angles it looks like a bit of a jumble, but from straight on, the composition of light and dark bags indeed forms an impressive likeness of the champ.

The project was engineered by Buro Happold, with the aluminum coming from M&K Metal, in whose parking lot the installation was prefabricated before being re-assembled Downtown. The project will remain up until April 9, and the team hopes to move it to other cities. Why Ali? The artist has long been interested in American Icons, producing likenesses of Einstein, Charles Lindbergh, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Morrison, to name a few. More pix of the sculpture being finished below:

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LA Stars Are Born

Even though we already knew who had won ahead of time, we couldn't help getting excited about  AIA/LA's ARCH IS__ awards, crowning "two exceptional young architects" at SCI-Arc on Monday night. The winners: Oyler Wu Collaborative and Tom Wiscombe/ Emergent. Both are pushing the envelope in terms of design, materials, engineering, and program, and are even starting to (slowly) build things. Oyler Wu is known for its multi-functional, angular aluminum tube installations like Pendulum Plane at the LA Forum's new gallery space in Hollywood, and Density Fields at the M&A Gallery in Silver Lake. But with a new commission to build one of 100 new houses at the wacky but visionary Ordos development in Inner Mongolia, the firm is  creating architecture. The size of their house (like all in the development) is ridiculous at around 10,000 square feet. But the design is quite innovative, featuring folded and faceted concrete geometries and interlocking u-shapes wrapped around a large internal void, lit internally by large light wells. Meanwhile Emergent is way ahead of its time in terms of fusing biology and architecture, with structural and mechanical systems that inter-weave and conduct heat, air, and water, just like natural organisms. Its Garak Fish Market in Korea has a kaleidoscopic roof that features colorful gardens and  double pleats which help form the structure and carve out niches for various pieces of program. To see more on these firms check out our next CA issue at the end of this month.