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In the Classroom

...with Susan Appleton, AIA Overseeing the installation of ‘six. one’ article by Noelle Heinze photography by Julie Pizzo

With 48 hours until its debut, the first project of Assistant Professor Susan Appleton’s Spring 2012 Senior Interior Design Studio is taking shape– literally. A luminous string sculpture, the centerpiece for an upcoming Building Sciences Expo dinner in the gallery of the University of Texas at Arlington School of Architecture, is being meticulously hand-woven at 10 a.m. on a Monday by shifts of students from a class of 13. Strung from a 57-inch-square cable system overhead to two fabricated, linear steel bases 13 feet below, it’s a third attempt after two previous types of twine proved insufficient for the design. As the students describe in their project description: The first strateg y of attachment was to bring thick nylon string from the linear structure above and gather it into a point at the base… The conical form that this created was visually appealing, but the problem of keeping tension proved to be the weak point in this method… A second type of string was experimented with… a thin cotton thread. This medium solved the tension problem yet did not present enough volume to visually occupy the space nor enough play with the light to create an interesting aesthetic. These complications created an unfavor-

able dynamic that led to converting from a point base to a linear base, as well as moving to a medium gauge nylon twine. (Interior Design 4563 writing team, Class Project: Luminaire, six . one). Born from a charrette three weeks prior and from a desire by Appleton to immediately “engage and energize” her students who were returning from a winter break, the project was decided on by vote after each student presented a design concept that incorporated light and exploited the physical characteristics of an easily available, affordable, off-the-shelf material. “We’ve done projects in the past where we began with a study of materials–choosing materials that were based on characteristics that we were interested in, such as translucency or the ability of a material to transform itself from a line or a point into a plane. Interior design students work closely with materials and development of full-scale details, even more so than the architecture students,” explains Appleton, a registered interior designer. Once the materials (string and threaded rod) and an overall approach (vertical structure

3/4 2012

Texas Architect 57


Texas Architect March/April 2012: Destinations