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Front & Center M ies van der Rohe argued that any material would be what one made of it and warned that using new materials would not always ensure superiority. Brick he called the schoolmaster; wood he praised for its structural clarity; and stone he admired for structural richness. Yet when he spoke of steel and concrete, he emphasized that only through the right use of these materials could one expect anything from them. According to Mies, the long road from material through function to form ultimately seeks to create order, establishing the significance and proportion of the parts and their relation to the whole. Material Arts by Catherine Gavin, Editor however, involves not only understanding the nature of the materials but also establishing a willingness to push the materials to do something unexpected. The projects featured throughout this issue in both the “Materials” and “Digital Fabrication” sections all sought the unanticipated in material design and application. With its titanium-dusted concrete walls that look like suede and feel like silk, the new Renzo Piano Pavilion is the primary focus of the featured projects. Three articles detail the expansion of Forth Worth’s Kimbell Art Museum, discussing the pavilion’s virtues and shortcomings while placing it within the panorama of Piano’s glass-roofed museums. The discussion of the union of architecture and art continues with PHOTO BY JULIE PIZZO WOOD. The art of material exploration, Detail of a digitally printed concrete slab embedded with carborundum by Pollen Architecture and Design. Pollen Architecture and Design’s studio, where playful materials vary from polycarbonate panels insulated with African sands to acrylic-impregnated felt blocks. And finally, the reinterpretation According to Mies, the long road from material through function to form ultimately seeks to create order. of the traditional materials of agrarian structures characterizes a ranch house in Real County by Rhotenberry Wellen Architects. Our nod to the forefront of material exploration in digital fabrication then turns to academia. The winner of the 2013 TEX-FAB SKIN competition, 3xLP, presents a forward-thinking solution for a self-structuring building envelope established by folding textured metal. Igor Siddiqui’s work in biodegradable plastics represents what is arguably the future of experimental material technology: organic matter. James Warton is also inspired by the natural environment and is working with additive metals to develop hollow structural systems replicating avian bones. Material arts — efficient, progressive, novel — are creative outlets providing new paths for architecture. 3/4 2014 Texas Architect 9

Texas Architect March/April 2014: Materials

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