Archive for ‘R&D’

June 22, 2011

Symphony of Steel | Kauffman Center for Performing Arts

Fine tuning the curves at Kauffman Center for Performing Arts

Chuck Mears, AIA, Posted 03/07/2011

Symphony_Northeast View

Although construction is not yet complete, the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts is already becoming an icon in the Kansas City, Mo., skyline. Designed by architect Moshe Safdie, the 285,000-square-foot center features a dramatic arching shell to house two state-of-the-art performance venues. While Kansas City residents await the Center’s grand opening, a specialty framing team has been hard at work, creating its own symphony of steel designed to support the magnificent curves of the sculpted building.

Symphony_Halzberg HallThe Center itself is an approximately 285,000-square-foot facility with two technically sophisticated performance spaces: the 1,800-seat proscenium-style Muriel Kauffman Theatre and 1,600-seat concert Helzberg Hall. The technical requirements and exacting standards required of a facility like the Kauffman Center make it among the most complex structures in today’s modern architectural landscape.

One of the most challenging tasks in the project has been providing the underlying steel structure for the highly specific, unusual detail of the concert hall walls. The “bumps,” as they are called, are a series of acoustically specific, multi-radiused bulges in the performing arts center walls, which solve some very challenging acoustic issues.

In other eras these bumps would have been framed with a “close enough” mentality and would have visually performed to that level. Today, with the extremely sophisticated acoustical engineering solutions that are applied to performing arts centers of this high caliber, “close enough” wasn’t going to allow this large musical space to be “tuned” properly.

The custom-designed precise, consistent framing solution designed by Minneapolis-based Radius Track Corp. architects uses straight and curved steel studs and track along with laser-cut steel shapes for the small bumps. While normal stud spacing is 16 inches on center, the Kauffman Center framing was devised to create rib frames at 36 inches on center and bridge them with lighter gauge hat channels that could flex with the room’s geometry. This approach not only solved a perplexing detail, but raised the bar by creating an ingeniously simple solution which saved significant time and material with impeccable results. Fifty-seven of these frames were produced offsite in controlled shop environments to meet the exacting standards this project demanded.

Custom-designed and fabricated steel framing was also used in the ceilings for the Concert Hall and Proscenium Theater, the balcony facing reflector walls and the donor’s area ceiling. All of these areas were modeled using 3-D computer technology to virtually build the spaces before a single piece was fabricated. This process of Building Information Modeling, also known as Integrated Project Delivery, pulls the project team together earlier in the process of design and brings them into close communication so that coordination of systems and specific locations of elements can be worked out prior to material being fabricated. Clashes (or conflicts in overlapping locations) are resolved in the 3-D model, so when the pieces are delivered to the jobsite they can be installed with confidence.

Symphony_RadiusTrack“Radius Track designed the 3-D model of the ceiling framing to accommodate the speakers, light fixtures and other design elements. They detected potential clashes in advance, which saved us a tremendous amount of time and effort during installation. There wasn’t anything we had to go back and correct after installation; the framing design already took everything into account,” said Ryan Crist, project engineer for Grandview, Mo.-based Performance Contracting Inc., the drywall contractor on the job. PCI did all drywall, traditional plaster, veneer plaster, ceilings, EIFS and gypsum on the project.

Custom framing innovation was also employed for the undulating ceiling designs. “The geometry of the ceilings was fairly complex and would have been a real challenge to construct using traditional methods,” said Crist. “Radius Track gave us a better product, allowing us to frame faster and more accurately than traditional ways.”

With the help of consulting structural engineers at Trabue, Hansen & Hinshaw Inc., Columbia, Mo., the framing design team was able to successfully create curved framing that could handle the weight of 25-pound acoustical plaster, attached equipment and other loads. With a crisply detailed solution that again extended the spacing of stud members and utilized CRC channels half the size of normal framing, the curved metal framing solved another series of acoustically specific profiles with exacting proficiency. The use of advanced framing approaches like these helped significantly lower the per-square-foot weight of framing, resulting in measurable cost and labor savings. To simplify installation, 16- by 20-foot panels were designed to be built on the floor then lifted into place when complete-especially challenging with ceilings that are bowing, arching and curving.

“Radius Track made the installation of the ceilings easy. They broke the ceiling into smaller panels and gave us the corner elevations of that piece. All we had to do was assemble the pieces on the ground and lift into place. We had a detailed map to follow as opposed to having to curve members on our own. It would have been very, very tough to do the project without them.”

The Kauffman Center will open in September 2011.

Chuck Mears, AIA, is the CEO and chief design officer for Radius Track, Minneapolis. He founded the company in 1996 and has been at the forefront of curved steel framing design ever since. Learn more from http://www.radiustrack.com.

IMAGES FROM TOP: View from the northeast. Photo courtesy of David Riffel; Rendering of Helzberg Hall interior. Image courtesy of Safdie Associates; Installation photo courtesy of Radius Track.

www.radiustrack.com

http://www.metalarchitecture.com/articles/magazine-features/symphony-of-steel.aspx

 

 

 

June 5, 2011

An Engineering Magician, Then (Presto) He’s an Architect

The pedestrian bridge designed by Cecil Balmond in Coimbra, Portugal. The bridge shifts at midpoint, as if the center had snapped.

Mr. Balmond with a model of the Battersea project.

A rendering of the Twist building at Battersea, designed by Cecil Balmond.

private home near Bordeaux designed by Rem Koolhaas, on which Mr. Balmond worked.

Cecil Balmond helped Anish Kapoor create “Marsyas” for the Tate Modern in 2002.

Inside the Serpentine Gallery’s pavillion in London, designed by Toyo Ito and Cecil Balmond.

The Seattle Central Library, designed by Rem Koolhaas and Cecil Balmond.

Arup’s Advanced Geometry unit, headed by Cecil Balmond, created “H_edge” for Artists Space in New York.

The pedestrian bridge designed by Cecil Balmond in Coimbra, Portugal.

The design for the CCTV Headquarters in Beijing, China.

By NICOLAI OUROUSSOFF
Published: November 26, 2006
WHEN the ribbon is cut this weekend and Cecil Balmond takes his first tentative steps onto a bridge he has just finished in Coimbra, Portugal, it will represent a crossover into unknown territory. After decades of service to some of the world’s most celebrated architects, this is the first project he can truly claim as his own.

“I’m pretty proud of it,” Mr. Balmond, 63, said in a recent interview over tea at a Park Avenue hotel. “In elevation it seems perfectly normal. It’s a simple arch. But as you move closer, half of it disappears into shadow. It becomes really strange and ephemeral.”

The visually confounding footbridge shifts abruptly at midpoint, as if the center had snapped and either side were dangling precipitously over the river.

Mr. Balmond, deputy chairman of the British engineering firm Ove Arup, is hardly a late bloomer. He has made structural feats like these possible for a pantheon of architectural luminaries over the last 30 years, from James Stirling and Philip Johnson to Rem KoolhaasDaniel Libeskind and Alvaro Siza.

As architects push the limits of their formal language, Mr. Balmond’s engineering genius has been crucial to the emergence of a new aesthetic of shifting asymmetrical structures that mock conventional notions of stability. Beyond making their projects buildable, his solutions spur such architects to explore forms they might not have considered before.

But Mr. Balmond has decided that the mantle of engineer is not enough. In 2002 he began working with the artist Anish Kapoor on the first of a series of colossal public artworks: a tubular blood-red sculpture installed at the Tate Modern that seemed to defy gravity. He has emerged as a full-fledged author with works like “Informal,” a window onto the playful back and forth between architect and engineer in sketches and diagrams. And at Arup he has organized an “advanced geometry unit,” a tight-knit group of engineers and mathematicians who have ventured onto turf normally reserved for architects, from houses to office buildings to master plans.

His shift to architectural work has raised an eyebrow or two in the profession. Some fear it will distract him from his primary engineering work. Some dismiss it as an ego thing. But Mr. Balmond’s career raises a broader question about the nature of collaboration. If a skilled engineer can boldly enrich the work of even the most talented architect, what is lost when the architect is tossed aside?

As Mr. Balmond explains it, his view of both architecture and engineering has always been more intuitive than mathematical. “I was always looking at patterns — in music, literature,” he said. “It was never only about structure.”

Born in Sri Lanka in 1943, he was reared in places that were both rich in cultural influences and in a constant state of political turmoil. His early memories include walking to school along lush mountain roads in the Sri Lankan village of Kandy, where his father was president of the country’s only university. With the outbreak of a civil war, his family left for Nigeria, where in his early 20s he was introduced to the writer Wole Soyinka and musicians like the political activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

When war broke out in Nigeria in 1967, he moved again, landing in Southampton, England, where he enrolled in the university’s department of engineering. “In those days what I wanted was to be a classical guitarist,” Mr. Balmond said. “I was playing flamenco gigs in bars.”

In settling on engineering, he saw it as a conventional career choice that played to his talent in mathematics. Yet when he arrived at Arup in 1968, the firm was in the throes of what is still considered one of the most audacious challenges of the late Modernist era: the construction of the Sydney Opera House. Designed by an inexperienced young Danish architect, Jorn Utzon, the opera house’s sail-like roof forms had proved unbuildable. Arup was brought on to rescue the project.

Its solution was ingeniously simple: rather than try to meld an elaborate composition of dissimilar forms, all of the shells would be designed with exactly the same curvature, as if they had been cut out of a single orange. They could be efficiently manufactured; but more important, those concrete plates also gave the design a formal clarity it had lacked. Completed in 1973 in Sydney Harbor, it was hailed as a masterpiece that signaled new possibilities for architects across the globe.

For Mr. Balmond it was an epiphany. Beyond crunching numbers, he realized, engineering could mean rethinking an architect’s design.

“I realized that engineering was more than calculating,” he said. “I became intrigued with the way that forces shaped things, the way you assemble structures in series. The idea thatwe could help shape things — all that was in the air.”

Ove Arup, a founder of the firm, eventually took the young engineer under his wing. “It was a training ground.” Mr. Balmond said. “Mr. Arup was my critic. I’d have to see him every few months, and he’d argue for the poetic qualities inherent in concrete over steel, for example. I was really refining my game. I was learning to push a structure further, span impossible distances.”

In 1977 he worked with the architect James Stirling on the stone-clad Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart, Germany, now considered a masterpiece of postmodernism. But the breakthrough was his partnership with the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, who enlisted him to work on a competition for a modest bank building in Amsterdam. (They lost.) Soon afterward Mr. Koolhaas embarked on the ZKM Center for Art and Media Technology, in Karlsruhe, Germany, with the idea of carving out immense sloping voids within a rigid block. The multistory voids, which include a lecture hall, library, museum of contemporary art, media theater and video labs, would function as a “Darwinian arena” where classical and electronic media would be in a constant delirious competition.

Pondering how to carve out such vast spaces without causing the building’s collapse, Mr. Balmond opted to create a stack of interior Vierendeel trusses whose ribs form triangulated units.

For Mr. Balmond and Mr. Koolhaas, such solutions are part of a running argument that architecture has been confined too long within the Cartesian logic of compartmentalized space. Yet while other architects experiment with radical forms, these two root their work in a more fundamental rebellion related to engineering itself. They want to defy the regimented order of the industrial world, shake it up, embrace the fundamental discontinuities of everyday life.

“We were saying that simply making an endless variation of new forms was too superficial,” Mr. Koolhaas said in an interview. “Instead of making unsober forms, we became interested in making unstable engineering behind sober forms.”

They explored that notion further in Mr. Koolhaas’s 1997 house near Bordeaux for Jean-François Lemoine, a French newspaper executive confined to a wheelchair after a car accident. The house, pierced by an enormous platform elevator the size of a full room, consists of three levels: a massive slablike level at the top; a vast glass-enclosed living area in the middle over which the slab seems to levitate; and a concrete plinth that forms the house’s private core, with a kitchen and wine cellar. Offsetting its symmetry, a deep steel beam spans the flat rooftop as if to keep the slab from tipping over.

“I wanted to give the client a sense of security,” Mr. Koolhaas said. “Strangely, we could do that with this insane amount of mass floating above his incredibly vulnerable head.”

A collaboration with Daniel Libeskind on a spiraling addition to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London led Mr. Balmond to explore a new thread in his work: a layer of ornamental surface patterns that in themselves spoke to a building’s structural logic. With its elaborate textured tiles, the 1996 addition seems to shimmer and defy gravity, even though it is wedged between two stolid 19th-century structures.

Going a step further, Mr. Balmond and the Japanese architect Toyo Ito played with a pattern of overlapping squares across a delicate lacelike skin for the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in London (2002). It was not only decorative but also supported the entire structure. And in Mr. Balmond’s first solo show, a project in Artists Space in SoHo last month, he deployed a series of interlocking C-shaped metal panels to create a labyrinth of small rooms. Evoking an Indian rope trick, an elaborate steel chain seems to stand with no visible support.

“I was looking at the layers of orders in Gothic architecture — how simple geometric rules creates an external architecture,” Mr. Balmond said. “The Gothic cathedrals had all these different levels of layering, structural and ornamental. These were all things that Modernists had dropped. I wanted something more.”

But it is Mr. Balmond’s mainstream architecture commissions that preoccupy some of his peers. Just as architects rely on engineers for structural experience, engineers rely on architects for their own area of expertise: an instinctive sense of how material and space convey hierarchies, for example, or of how a building speaks to its surroundings. Such skills may be intuitive, but they are skills nonetheless. It’s what gives architecture its poetic quality, and it cannot be learned overnight.

Mr. Balmond prefers to see this latest career turn as part of a consistent trajectory rather than a blind leap into the unknown. He has reassured his architect friends that he is not in direct competition with them; nor is he turning away from his responsibilities at Arup, he says. The Coimbra project, the symbolic bridge to his solo practice of architecture, could well be viewed as an essentially structural project.

Mr. Balmond began with a simple idea: to create a sense of instability that intensifies as a pedestrian reaches the midpoint. The bridge is actually conceived as two independent structures cantilevered from each side of the river. A concrete beam runs along one edge of each half and tapers as it reaches the midpoint, so that the center suddenly kinks. The sudden shift is as much about engineering bravura as a physical experience.

The weakness lies in the bridge’s decorative flourishes: its jagged side rails, clad in blue, pink and green colored glass, feel slightly overwrought and compete with the sleekness of the supports and spans. Far more audacious is Mr. Balmond’s master plan for an office, hotel and retail development on a 36-acre site on the south bank of the Thames in London. Given the project’s whopping $3.8 billion budget, Mr. Balmond may seem an eccentric — not to say highly risky — choice as its main planner.

But the developer, Victor Hwang, had fallen in love with the algorithmic pattern of the pavilion that Mr. Balmond designed with Mr. Ito for the Serpentine Gallery. “Cecil said this is a very simple theory: You can do it anywhere, any shape, any size,” Mr. Hwang said. “My belief is that architecture in the future will have to be based on something solid rather than something vague. It needs a mathematical foundation.”

The problem is that the master plan never completely coheres. The site, anchored by the towering form of the abandoned Battersea power station, which is being converted into a shopping mall, is organized as a series of buildings that frame a series of internal plazas. Mr. Balmond describes those plazas as a series of shifting planes that slope up toward the Thames, culminating in a formal garden overlooking the city to the north.

But the plazas, which range from small enclaves to vast public squares, feel shapeless and oddly disjointed, like leftover space. A similar problem afflicts a building he has designed in the form of a twisted rectangular box at the site’s southern edge. Its meshlike skin echoes projects in which the exterior surface is both decorative and structural. By twisting the form, he creates a gentle arch beneath the building that offers a natural entry point, intended for a design center, showroom and offices. A series of ramps swirl up through the interior.

Yet the building’s exterior form is less an expression of its interior function than a sculptural study conceived on a massive scale.

Mr. Balmond is obviously grappling with some fundamental architectural lessons, from the complex relationships between interior and exterior forms to those between ornament and structure. A younger, lesser-known talent would be able to work through these struggles in relative privacy and at a more manageable scale. Mr. Balmond does not have that luxury. Already a titan in the engineering profession, he is finally poised to get the public attention he feels he deserves. The paradox is that he may feel less free to make the kind of mistakes that are intrinsic to creative growth.

For now, Mr. Koolhaas suggests, Mr. Balmond should be glad that his fame is so far limited to professional circles. “The role of the architect is so exaggerated today it drives people crazy,” he said.

“Maybe this work is a smart way to take a breather,” he continued. “But from the bottom of my heart, I told him that he doesn’t know how lucky he is not to have to deal with this star thing.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/26/arts/design/26ouro.html?pagewanted=all

here his profile at penn:

balmond_hs.jpgBIOGRAPHY

BSC, University of Southampton
MSc, Imperial College of Science, London

Cecil Balmond is an internationally renowned designer, structural engineer, author and Deputy Chairman of the international, multi-disciplinary engineering firm Arup. One of his most recent projects is the 2006 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, designed with Rem Koolhaas.

He has held several distinguished visiting professorships at leading universities in the United States and Britain: Saarinen Professor at Yale University, Kenzo Tange Visiting Critic at Harvard’s School of Design, visiting professor at the London School of Economics, and most recently the Graham Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. He received the Gengo Matsui Prize in 2002, which is the highest recognition for structural engineering given in Japan, and the Charles Jencks Award for Theory in Practice of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 2003. This spring he gave the Felix Candela lectures at the Museum of Modern Art and had an exhibition of his work at the arc en rêve centre d’architecture in Bordeaux, France. He is the author of Informal (Prestel, 2002), Number Nine (Prestel, 1998) and co-authored Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2002 with Toyo Ito (Telescoweb.com, Japan), and Unfolding with Daniel Liebeskind (NAI, 1997).

Through his provocative designs in collaboration with leading architects and artists and eloquent writings, including Informal (2002) and Number Nine: The Search for the Sigma Code (1998) Balmond has put forward a dynamic and organizational approach to structure that is informed by the sciences of complexity, non-linear organization and emergence. Recognizing that the universe is a constantly changing array of patterns (both random and regular), he also draws on ancient wisdom and non-western mathematical archetypes. Taking structure to be as much a verb as a noun—as structuring, organizing and patterning—Balmond redefines the relationship between structural engineering and architecture beyond the ethos of rationalism, efficiency and optimization, which has characterized not only high-tech design but modern architecture in general. His experimental, constructive and algorithmic methods open a rich territory for design at different scales and in different media and regimes of matter, extending the horizons of both reason and beauty. To test their capabilities he is currently designing an urban master plan for a redevelopment site in London, while at the same time experimenting with rhythmic lighting effects and the generation of music.

http://www.design.upenn.edu/people/balmond_cecil

http://nonlinearsystems.org/

May 23, 2011

Thomas Heatherwick: Building the Seed Cathedral

A future more beautiful? Architect Thomas Heatherwick shows five recent projects featuring ingenious bio-inspired designs. Some are remakes of the ordinary: a bus, a bridge, a power station … And one is an extraordinary pavilion, the Seed Cathedral, a celebration of growth and light.

http://www.ted.com/talks/thomas_heatherwick.html

Thomas Heatherwick founded Heatherwick Studio in 1994 with his aim being “to bring architecture, design and sculpture together within a single practice.” On the team, architects, landscape architects, designers and engineers work from a combined studio and workshop, where concept development, detailing, prototyping and small-scale fabrication take place. The studio’s work spans commercial and residential building projects, masterplanning and infrastructure schemes as well as high profile works of public art.

From his biography at the Design Museum :

Heatherwick finds pleasure in what other designers might perceive as unconventional commissions, like the entrance and carpark for Guys Hospital, near London Bridge. He responded with an organic woven façade, created from stainless steel braid that requires little maintenance and creates a new system for routing traffic. In this context, what Heatherwick cites as his dream design job is unsurprising: a large-scale car park for the 1970s new town, Milton Keynes. “It’s is a weird place but I find it exciting because its infrastructure is taken so seriously,” Heatherwick explains, “It needs multistory car parks. But what world-class example of a well designed car park can you think of? There’s not much competition and they’re a very cheap building typology so you could build the best car park in the world for a fraction of the cost of the fanciest new art gallery… I’d like to work on the world’s best car park.”

http://www.ted.com/talks/thomas_heatherwick.html

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May 8, 2011

FAST | Meejin Yoon

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FAST is a prominent feature of the MIT150 events, a festival celebrating MIT’s unique confluence of Art, Science and Technology. Directed by Professor of Music and Media Tod MachoverFAST will present an exciting, surprising variety of work, embracing past to future, performance to debate, and installations to the unclassifiable. FAST will appear throughout the MIT campus and extend over the entire spring semester, punctuated by five special Festival weekend events:

FAST PAST, Festival Kick-Off, February 3–5: Exploring MIT’s unique tradition in the media arts, systems theory in art and design, and electronic music, through an exhibition of the work of Stan VanDerBeek, a forum on contemporary arts and cybernetics, and demonstrations of the past and future of music and technology, from Hyperinstruments, sensors and interfaces, to theories of musical mind and emotion.

FAST THINKING, March 5: Radical research on music and language, and vision and neuroscience, which a special appearance by London’s famed Lontano Ensemble. The concert features work by MIT faculty composers, including Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Harbison, Bang-on-a-Can All-Star Evan Ziporyn, and world premieres by Charles Shadle and Peter Child.

FAST OPERA, March 18–25: U.S. premiere of Death and the Powers, a musically and technologically visionary “robotic” opera by Tod Machover, developed at the MIT Media Lab. Commissioned by Association Futurum of Monaco and given its world premiere at the Monte Carlo Opera in September 2010, the opera includes animated walls, a chorus of robots and a musical chandelier, launching a new era in opera production and expression. This production is a collaboration with American Repertory Theater.

FAST FUTURE, April 15–16: A music/media marathon combining the Kronos Quartet, Bang-on-a-Can, Wu Man, and MIT’s own Gamelan Galak Tika and Chamber Chorus; featuring hyperstrings and a MIDI Gamelan. Followed by an unprecedented convening of MIT’s creative arts faculty, alumni and students, which will reveal how new creative practices emerge in MIT’s unique environment and how these processes can be expanded and enhanced in the future.

FAST LIGHT, May 7: An all-evening celebration involving light and the kinetic activation of MIT throughout the campus, and along Memorial Drive and the Charles River, curated by Meejin Yoon.

FAST Organizers

Tod Machover, Chair of the FAST Steering Committee
Co-curator of the Music | MACHINES Exploration and Celebration
February 5, 2011

Professor of Music and Media at MIT Media Lab since its founding in 1985, Tod Machover has been described as “America’s Most Wired Composer” by the Los Angeles Times. His music, which includes several operas in addition to Death and the Powers, has been acclaimed for breaking traditional artistic and cultural boundaries, offering a unique and innovative synthesis of acoustic and electronic sound. Machover is the inventor of many new technologies for music, most notably his hyperinstruments, which use smart computers to augment musical expression and creativity. He has designed these instruments for some of the world’s greatest musicians, from Yo-Yo Ma to Prince, as well as for the general public and for children. His latest opera, Death and the Powers, will receive its U.S. premiere March 18 – 25 at Boston’s Cutler Majestic Theater, presented by the American Repertory Theater.

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Meejin Yoon
Curator of Installations for FAST, Creator of Wind Screen and Light Drift Winter/Spring 2011

J. Meejin Yoon is Associate Professor of Architecture at MIT, teaching the architecture design studios. Her design research investigates the relationship between form and performance, public space and technology, and interactivity and architecture. As the founder of MY Studio and co-founder of Howeler + Yoon Architecture, she is engaged in a multidisciplinary practice, operating in the space between architecture, art, and landscape. Her projects include architecture, urban design, installations, concept clothing and artist books. Among her more prominent design projects are: White Noise White Light (an interactive public space installation for the Athens 2004 Olympics), the 3 Degrees of Felt (for the Aztec Empire Exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum), and Hover (a solar-powered canopy in New Orleans). Her designs have been exhibited at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Cooper-Hewitt, Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston’s Contemporary Arts Museum, the Somerset House in London, and Tokyo’s National Art Center. Her many design awards include Architecture Record Design Vanguard, and the Rome Prize.

Leila W. Kinney, Director of Arts Initiatives at MIT

Director of Arts Initiatives at MIT, Leila Kinney previously served as administrator for academic programs in Comparative Media Studies. As Director of Arts Initiatives, Kinney works with Associate Provost Philip Khoury, the Office of the Arts, the MIT Museum, the List Visual Arts Center, and the Creative Arts Council to advance the arts at MIT in the areas of strategic planning, communications, resource development and cross-school collaboration. Kinney is an art historian with experience in both the Schools of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, and Architecture and Planning at MIT. Previously on the faculty in the History, Theory and Criticism section of the Department of Architecture and Planning, she specializes in modern art, with an emphasis on media in transition, arts institutions and artists’ engagement with mass culture. She also taught in the Program in Women’s Studies and served on search committees for the Visual Arts Program and the List Visual Arts Center. She is delighted to see FAST come to fruition as a celebration of all that is creatively MIT.

http://arts.mit.edu/fast/pressinfo/

May 8, 2011

Wind Screen | Meejin Yoon

Wind Screen by Meejin Yoon, Associate Professor of Architecture
Location:  Green Building (Building 54)
Installation: Installed April 2011

Imagine a shimmering curtain of light suspended in the archway below the Green Building: an architectural-scale screen of micro-turbines that simultaneously generates and consumes energy harvested from the wind, translating wind speed into a visual register of this replenishable source of energy.  Air currents sweeping across the plaza create kinetic patterns of form and light, illuminating what otherwise would be a largely invisible phenomenon.  As the wind blows stronger, and the turbines spin faster, the lights shine more brightly; energy is consumed as soon as it is produced, always balancing the equation.

FAST Future Forum on the Arts: Yoon on Wind Screen

http://arts.mit.edu/fast/meejin-yoon-wind-screen/

May 8, 2011

Light Drift | Meejin Yoon

Installed: May 7 + 8, 2011
Location: Charles River
Join the activities from 7 – 10 pm!

LIGHT DRIFT is an interactive lighting installation that will appear along the Memorial Drive side of the Charles River and draw viewers into a playful engagement with the artwork, the river’s edge, and each other. Ninety brightly glowing orbs in the river will change color as they react to the presence of people along the shore.

The lighting elements are shaped like orbs or buoys and are equipped with electronics that allow them to respond to a viewer and to communicate with each other. The orbs on land use sensors to detect the presence of a person and relay a radio signal to the corresponding orbs in the water, allowing visitors to transform the array of orbs in the river.  As viewers engage the orbs, the grid of lights in the water becomes an index of the activities on land. Multiple viewers can create intersections of linear patterns, encouraging viewers to “play” with each other. These orbs bring the community together by providing gathering spaces for watching the river turned into a flickering constellation of a field of lights and creating new connections on the river’s edge.

Funded in part by a grant from the Council for the Arts at MIT.

FAST Future Forum on the Arts: Meejin Yoon on Light Drift

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Meejin Yoon
Curator of Installations for FAST, Creator of Wind Screen and Light Drift 
FAST Future: New Architecture
Winter/Spring 2011

J. Meejin Yoon is Associate Professor of Architecture at MIT, teaching the architecture design studios. Her design research investigates the relationship between form and performance, public space and technology, and interactivity and architecture. As the founder of MY Studio and co-founder of Howeler + Yoon Architecture, she is engaged in a multidisciplinary practice, operating in the space between architecture, art, and landscape. Her projects include architecture, urban design, installations, concept clothing and artist books. Among her more prominent design projects are: White Noise White Light (an interactive public space installation for the Athens 2004 Olympics), the 3 Degrees of Felt (for the Aztec Empire Exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum), and Hover (a solar-powered canopy in New Orleans). Her designs have been exhibited at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Cooper-Hewitt, Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston’s Contemporary Arts Museum, the Somerset House in London, and Tokyo’s National Art Center. Her many design awards include Architecture Record Design Vanguard, and the Rome Prize. 

http://arts.mit.edu/fast/meejin-yoon-light-drift/

February 4, 2011

… proving how technology can live in harmony with nature.

Neri OXMAN

By JOHN ORTVED | Photography TOM ALLEN

 

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Courtesy  http://web.media.mit.edu/~neri/site/projects/stalasso/stalasso.html

Imagine a chair that moves when you move, that adjusts to every muscle in your body, that responds like a living organism . . . a chair kind of like a really excellent lover. Neri Oxman imagined such a chair. Then she built it. The result was Beast, the chaise lounge that the young designer built in collaboration with MIT professor Craig Carter. She describes it as being “all about an efficiency of material, distributing it according to your body load.” Resembling a praying mantis, the Beast chair is a prime example of the “living-synthetic constructions” that Oxman is becoming famous for. In short, her works are a complex recipe of design, science, art, and environmentalism, and it’s often hard to tell where one field ends and the other picks up.

Raised in Haifa and Caesarea, Israel, by architect parents, Oxman rebelled (well, by academic standards anyway) by going into medicine, completing med school at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. But she couldn’t squelch her interest in design, and so she ventured to London to get a degree from the Architectural Association School of Architecture before enrolling in the PhD program in design computation at MIT. As a designer, the current grad student has a rather simple philosophy: to change the world by proving how technology can live in harmony with nature. “It’s a love affair with design that is continuously being nurtured by reaching into other disciplines, then coming back to design with those different points of view,” she explains.

Oxman usually looks to nature for practical design answers. Her work integrates the principles of biomimicry with manmade objects—think buildings that can “breath and sweat and think and grow and change,” she says. Recently at MoMA, she even showed a series of hive-like sculptures made of wood, acrylic, and nylon that actually respond to light, heat, and weight like living tissue. Such experiments are more than aesthetic: They could point to the future of energy-efficient building materials. Not surprisingly, there’s just as much public interest in what Oxman’s ideas mean on a larger scale as there is in the scale models she’s already constructed. Thus, most of her products and prototypes aren’t very commercially viable. “I hope that they will be one day,” she says. “But if I needed to live in a tent and continue thinking about innovation, I would probably choose that option.”

As for her own future, she rejects any possibility of a Neri Oxman line of roof tiles or a collaboration on Andre Balazs’s next hotel. Ideally, she would direct others in her art-design-ecology practice. “A great dream of mine would be to run a design studio full of scientists who think about science as creatively as if they were doing art,” she says. Oxman isn’t so taken with architecture and design whose only revolution lies on the surface. “Forget about the way it looks,” she says. “Think about how it behaves.”

To learn more about Neri Oxman’s work, visit her Web site and blog.

http://www.interviewmagazine.com/art/neri-oxman/