The Fibrous Pneumaticity project demonstrates the utilization of “material computation.” Designing the micro-architecture of a material allows one to make a homogenous material perform anisotropically. All biological morphologies are fibrous structures that utilize this efficient principle.
The use of carbon and glass fiber as construction materials presents opportunities for innovative architectural building practices, given the combination of their ultra-lightweight and high strength characteristics. While these fibrous materials have been used frequently in molded composite applications, their potential to operate outside that realm has been largely unexplored. This design is a fibrous composite system with carbon and glass fibers oriented and arranged in specific ways to maximize structural efficiency.
Inspired by pneumatic-like structures found in nature, our project utilizes carbon and glass fiber to translate biological constructs into architectural space. In many natural systems, pneumatic-like elements and fibers work together to form complex structural networks. A “pneu” is a structure with an envelope and a filling, such as biological cells - membrane structures filled predominantly with water. Pneus form most rigid biological structures by shaping and orienting fibers. These pneumatically-formed fibers serve as compression reinforcements for the organism.
Louisiana State University
Thesis | Jim Sullivan and Jori Erdman
Awarded ARCC King Medal 2012
The Urban Monastery is a Benedictine Monastery that is located in downtown St. Louis, Missouri, five blocks from the Gateway Arch and the Mississippi River. Thirty Benedictine monks will inhabit the monastery and fully operate a soup kitchen that provides for the large population of homeless people in the adjacent parks and the surrounding area.
Benedictine Monks follow the Rule of St. Benedict and solemnly vow to stability, conversion of manners, and obedience, which will be described in detail later. Benedictine monks believe their sacred space is a central point of orientation where they can communicate with the heavens and with God. Therefore, the monastery, their sacred space, is an important aspect of their ontological beliefs - their understanding of being. They are willing to abandon everything and move to their axis mundi, where God can reveal to them his existence.
A traditional monastery intentionally has a thick, defined boundary, separating the sacred, isolated space of monastic life from the rest of the surrounding world. The monks’ ritualistic, ordered world contrasts greatly with the unpredictable world of the city. Complete isolation from the outside world lessens one’s awareness of that which he is rejecting. When one is less aware of that which he resists, he is less capable of achieving a fuller rejection or understanding of the meaning behind his seclusion. If he is fully aware of the outside world and experiences society daily, if traditional monastic boundaries begin to dissolve, a monk can then consciously reject what he is experiencing, can become more isolated, more spiritual, and more connected with his God.
Harvard Graduate School of Design
Fall 2015 | Emanuel Christ
This project is an extension to an existing traditional brick building creating an open, collaborative, functional design studio for a fashion design company, Akris. Because Akris designers and employees work in a highly collaborative way, they need to easily circulate through all the spaces of the building. Therefore, little vertical circulation and a large floor plate can facilitate collaboration. The second goal is to maximize daylight, especially northern light. These goals are achieved by extruding the entire site to maximize floor area and carving into that massing to allow for ample daylighting.
The extension is essentially one perimeter wall that contains three autonomous forms. This wall is like an abstract drawing of the existing façade. The protruding ornamentation becomes simple lines as recesses. The windows lose their mullions. The brick becomes a terracotta-colored stained concrete. This design attempts to best represent Akris: humble, simple, elegant.
Black Oak Chair
Washington Alexandria Architecture Center
Spring 2011 | Jon Foote and Brian Gafney
WAAC Design-Build Award
The black oak chair is composed of two non-developable, composite, wooden surfaces that are supported by a minimalistic steel frame. Over 100 years ago a bridge made of oak wood collapsed in a river near Washington DC. When oak wood is submerged for this long it turns black throughout. I was fortunate enough to use this recovered wood for this chair, which now sits outside the dean’s office at the Washington Alexandria Architecture Center.
Strips of this oak wood with pre-cut holes are fastened together perpendicular to one another at every intersection to create two doubly-curved grid structures. Using Grasshopper for Rhinoceros, a parametric model was used to generate the surfaces and fabrication drawings. To accomplish the doubly-curved surfaces, which conform to the body, the parametric model determines the precise location of the pre-cut holes and the exact distance between each intersection. No steaming techniques were used in the making of the chair. Because of the natural elasticity of wood, as these straight strips are assembled, the wood bends and warps until the last intersection is fastened. The resultant form perfectly matches the surface generated in the parametric model.
Bifocal explores the boundary between image and experience by embodying both. Bifocal transitions from an aggregated mass on approach to a tactile and immersive environment from within.
The pavilion imagines a field of verticals that produce a playful environment for the visitor while serving as an armature onto which the fair’s brand is displayed. Through the technique of anamorphosis, a billboard scale Design Miami/ insignia is read from the vantage of the visitor approaching the pavilion from the neighboring convention center. The sign is produced by digitally routing an intricate pattern, inspired by the Harvard Graduate School of Design logo, into a field of wood verticals at precise locations. The reliefs, painted a highly visible color, fall into alignment as the visitor approaches the pavilion, revealing the Design Miami sign and framing the perfect selfie moment.
Conceptualized as prepared dimensional lumber, the verticals are organized into a gridded field elegantly displaced by a circular forecourt at the heart of the pavilion. The forecourt, defined by an increased density of verticals, creates a void for congregation. The perimeter of the forecourt reads as a fuzzy cylinder from outside the pavilion, blurring the boundaries between solid and void, inviting further investigation by the visitor. The forecourt is lined by a circular bench, inviting guests to stay and have intimate conversation.
The pavilion is constructed with simple materials and details to ensure feasibility and cost effectiveness. Each vertical is a standard 2x4 or 4x4, mounted to a wood framed base, weighted with sand bags or concrete. The top surface of each base is clad with mirrored acrylic to enhance the atmosphere, extending the verticality of the wood members. The bases vary in height to define circulation and serve as seating throughout the pavilion. The Graduate School of Design projects are displayed within weather-tight acrylic volumes which vertically extrude the envelope of selected bases. The crystalline volumes are lit from within, emitting a soft glow at night.