Self-Structuring Skin by Mic Patterson
72 Texas Architect
The building skin combines performative and aesthetic qualities like no other building system. The evolving dialogue on holistic building design increasingly recognizes the envelope as a keystone element in achieving building systems integration. Partly in consequence, building facade technology is in the midst of step change as new digital tools produce increasing geometric complexity and a broader range of material options. It is no longer a simple matter of aluminum and glass: Current envelope designs include folded sheet metal, cast metal, metal meshes, cast glass, steel rods and cables, AESS steel fabrications, FRP, and GFRC — to name a few. TEX-FAB’s 2013 international digital fabrication competition, SKIN, was a timely exploration of current trends and a significant model for collaborative workflows. Organized by Brad Bell, Kevin McClellan, and Andrew Vrana, the competition emphasized bold vision and challenging technologies that rethink the building envelope. Static or dynamic systems were allowed in virtual or real applications. Fabrication process had to be defined, including the specification of materials and manufacturing technique. The only real limitation was the requirement that metal, metal fabrication systems, or metal-hybrid assemblies be central to the proposed concept. The competition was carried out in two phases. During the first phase, the juried competition awarded four finalists a stipend, and the
teams were partnered with national fabricators to produce their models, which were exhibited at the 2013 ACADIA conference in Waterloo, Canada. The second phase of the SKIN competition began with another jury, which determined the project that would move on to the construction of a full-scale prototype in collaboration with TEX-FAB and Zahner Metals. Christopher Romano and Nick Bruscia in collaboration with students Phil Gusmano and Dan Vrana, was named the SKIN competition winner in November. The 3xLP team had worked extensively with Rigidized Metals, also out of Buffalo, N.Y., to build another project, 2XmT , and they continued this collaboration to get 3xLP through the first phase of the SKIN competition — this established industry partner and collaborative relationship proved to be a defining edge. The jurors noted that the project was rigorously thought out and well positioned to take the next developmental step. There is a granularity to the design that goes beyond its engaging geometry. The design concept takes thin-gauge patterned stainless steel sheet metal and folds it to form a module with apertures, which is then closely packed to create a layered envelope. This approach intrigued the jurors, as the design appeared capable of developing spanning capacity and perhaps a functional merging of structure and cladding 3xLP, by University at Buffalo professors
This issue on “Materials” focuses on the new Renzo Piano Pavilion at the Kimbell Art Museum. A series of three articles details and critique...