Between September 2013 and January 2014, the UAM's Tumblr will be dedicated to MatterApp: Pyramidial, a collaboration between the UAM, DESN 360A, and Oliver Hess, Director Emeritus of Materials & Applications, the Los Angeles-based nonprofit, which has striven to raise the conceptual standards of public art by questioning not only what is possible in the built environment, but also who participates in its development.

 

Model kits, model kits, model kits! Alongside developing and designing MatterApp: Pyramidial, the students in DESN 360A also have to work on individual projects that are separate (but related) to the structure. One of those such projects is an educational model kit made for young students to learn about architecture and design and how it works in the built environment.

The model kits will come as a kit of parts that use cheap materials and produce as little waste as possible. This part of the project is still being figured out so I can’t provide too man details. I will say, however, I’m impressed with the fact that they’ve produced some beautifully sculptural elements (and killer joint systems!) at such a small scale. 

Next Tuesday, December 10th DESN 360A will be presenting their final designs! Details coming soon.

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Brigette Brown is a freelance writer and editor based out of Orange County. She holds a BA in Studio Art - Graphic Design from CSULB (2010) and is currently putting her MFA in Design Criticism from SVA (2013) to good use writing about design’s role in shaping our communities for publications like Surface, Disegno and The Los Angeles Review of Books.

Last week’s warm sun and clear skies were the perfect backdrop for a site visit with campus stakeholders from Facilities, Design Services, Engineering, Groundskeeping, etc. (It was a lovely contrast considering the last site visit was in the dead heat of summer!) In a quick meeting we primarily discussed the possibilities for providing MatterApp: Pyramidial with electrical power if it were used for programming events. But, we also talked about the concerns for actually building the structure and the necessity for lift equipment, the placement of signage, cladding and disability access.

With only a week left in the design process, it’s a good thing the meeting ended in smiling faces!

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Brigette Brown is a freelance writer and editor based out of Orange County. She holds a BA in Studio Art - Graphic Design from CSULB (2010) and is currently putting her MFA in Design Criticism from SVA (2013) to good use writing about design’s role in shaping our communities for publications like Surface, Disegno and The Los Angeles Review of Books.

The End is Nigh

DESN 360A student Cathy Hsiao and professor Heather Barker discuss whether or not it is possible to dye the sails quickly and effectively on campus.

There’s one last question about MatterApp: Pyramidial that hangs in the air: To skin or not to skin?

This semester went by incredibly fast and it still shocks me that finals week is upon us. As much as I don’t want it to be over (I’m sure the students disagree) I’m so excited to see the final design. I’m also incredibly eager to see what MatterApp looks like in reality.

In any case, going into this week the DESN 360A gang has been discussing what the structure’s skin will look like and whether or not they want any form of cladding at all. The sailing club on campus donated a bunch of sails for the students to work with. There’s some talk about the possibility of dyeing, tying, twisting and draping. 

Coming soon: the conclusion of MatterApp: Pyramidial and the solution to cladding (or not).

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Brigette Brown is a freelance writer and editor based out of Orange County. She holds a BA in Studio Art - Graphic Design from CSULB (2010) and is currently putting her MFA in Design Criticism from SVA (2013) to good use writing about design’s role in shaping our communities for publications like Surface, Disegno and The Los Angeles Review of Books.

Although many artists and architects privilege phenomenological experience, they often offer the near-reverse: “experience” handed back to us as “atmosphere” or “affect”—that is, as environments that confuse the actual with the virtual, or feelings that are hardly our own yet interpellate us nonetheless. —Hal Foster

The design of MatterApp: Pyramidial will soon be coming to an end! In less than a month, the students will be presenting their final design (details on then when and where coming soon). As they scramble to finalize the structure and secure materials, I’ve decided that reading Hal Foster’s The Art-Architecture Complex is only fitting.

Disability Access has been the name of the game since the design of MatterApp: Pyramidial has been (more or less) finalized and, with that, the last few weeks of the semester have pushed the students to make sure they’re in compliance. Per California’s ADA, there are certain rules and regulations MatterApp has to follow in order to provide an all-inclusive and safe environment. But, the building requirements for equal access are generally rather vague and the fact that the structure is an uninhabitable temporary space doesn’t make things any easier.

Luckily, a design solution does exist! So, in the next two weeks or so, the students of DESN 360A may have to adjust and modify their design so that there is a 6ft 8in overhead clearance and a marker (maybe a curb?) to make the structure safe to navigate—particularly, for the visual impaired.

Creating a design that is inclusive and accessible should be the goal of every environmental design project but, I’m most excited about is seeing a design that is also beautiful and solves these problems in creative and innovative ways. The fact that MatterApp: Pyramidial is a cross-disciplinary collaboration can only help in the problem solving department—engineers, artists and designers can together create something practical and beautiful—producing outcomes that could never happen otherwise.

Of course, accessibility is only one of many things that need to be considered in the final phase of designing MatterApp: skinning the structure, wind map analysis, possibilities for electricity, programming, way-finding, signage and installation are all still on the list. (Add in the impending finals week and the students are really in for a mad dash to the finish line!)

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Brigette Brown is a freelance writer and editor based out of Orange County. She holds a BA in Studio Art - Graphic Design from CSULB (2010) and is currently putting her MFA in Design Criticism from SVA (2013) to good use writing about design’s role in shaping our communities for publications like Surface, Disegno and The Los Angeles Review of Books.

Duncan Anderson Lecture Series: Mic Patterson

Self-proclaimed façade geek, Mic Patterson made an appearance at last week’s Duncan Anderson Lecture Series and his presentation was a fanciful display of sparkling curtain walls, geometric forms and transparent gems of buildings. (Clearly, I’m a façade geek myself and I took great pleasure in exterior construction talk: glass installation, curtain walls, space frames and innovation in building skin.)

Mic Patterson’s is in constant evolution — rather than simply taking cues from other designers, he builds upon his own practice — and no two buildings look the same. He is in on a constant quest to create “gem quality” buildings by taking the simplest route possible.

 

LA Live Tower & Residences, Los Angeles, Gensler (2010)

Jacob K Javits Convention Center, New York City, I.M. Pei & Partners / FXFowle/Epstein (2013)

Seattle Family Foundation campus*, Seattle, NBBJ (2012)

Sometimes, looking back at New York City’s mid-century curtain walls (n. a wall that encloses the space within a building but does not support the roof) like the Seagram Building (1957) and Lever House (1951) can provide design solutions for today’s architectural constructions because, as Patterson says, “Imitation is one of the important design strategies that we can use.”

Seagram Building, New York City, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1957)

 

Lever House, New York City, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) (1951, curtain wall replacement in 2001)

Even so, although we hack, invent and design on a regular basis, we still haven’t found the solution to the sustainability problem. The reason for this is partly because the vocabulary we use to describe “sustainability” isn’t clear or universal — what does sustainability really mean, anyway? — so, one of the first steps to solving the problem is to “get more aggressive in our vocabulary” before we can innovate our way to a more sustainable built environment.

Mic’s lecture was smart and incredibly thought provoking which, I think, encouraged the students to innovate their way to a better world. There really is a need for fresh perspectives in design and there’s still a huge gap between where we are today and where we need to be tomorrow (or, where we should have been yesterday) in terms of architecture and design that isn’t wasteful.

On another note, all of this talk about skin and sustainability comes at the perfect time for the DESN 360A crew as they come up with ideas for the cladding of MatterApp:Pyramidial! Stay tuned for the latest in MatterApp’s construction.

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Brigette Brown is a freelance writer and editor based out of Orange County. She holds a BA in Studio Art - Graphic Design from CSULB (2010) and is currently putting her MFA in Design Criticism from SVA (2013) to good use writing about design’s role in shaping our communities for publications like Surface, Disegno and The Los Angeles Review of Books.

Halloween was an important day for the DESN 360A students. Last week they had a construction strategies meeting with the amazing project realization team (a.k.a. CSULB stakeholders from Facilities, Design Services, Engineering, Groundskeeping, etc.) and Nathan Reynolds of Gossamer Space Frame— it went well!

Heather Barker laid out the latest news in MatterApp’s design, space frame construction, anchor systems and production timelines for the team. Of course, there are still a few things that need to be worked out in terms of skinning the structure and figuring out what MatterApp:Pyramidial will be used for but overall, the team seemed to be on board and ready to push forward.

Post-meeting enthusiasm helped keep the students focused on continuing the development of the project’s programming: skinning the structure, education and workshops, identity.

There’s still a long way to go but this last meeting showed just how nicely things are coming together.

(And no, there was NOT a medical emergency in the classroom! UAM Curator of Education Brian Trimble and UAM Educational Assistant Christina Alegria showed up in Halloween costumes)

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Brigette Brown is a freelance writer and editor based out of Orange County. She holds a BA in Studio Art - Graphic Design from CSULB (2010) and is currently putting her MFA in Design Criticism from SVA (2013) to good use writing about design’s role in shaping our communities for publications like Surface, Disegno and The Los Angeles Review of Books.

Krinner ground screws are the choice for MatterApp:Pyramidial’s anchoring system! They are easy to install, cause minimal damage to the grass, don’t need to be supported by concrete, and meet the campus dig depth restrictions—2 feet being the maximum depth the MA:P Team is allowed to dig, to ensure that potential archeological material in the substrata remains undisturbed.

New Structure Evokes Memories of the Old Pike

MatterApp:Pyramidial will be constructed out of a little piece of Long Beach: the “roller coaster” pedestrian bridge over Shoreline Drive. Thanks to Glenn Reynolds and a generous donation from Gossamer Space Frames, the DESN 360A will be able to use leftover parts from the construction of the bridge (modified where necessary) to build MatterApp’s space frame.

On Tuesday, Glenn stopped by with his Research and Development Technician Nathan Reynolds, to show the group how the connections work, areas where customization can happen and assisted the students in engineering their current structure.

So, on behalf of the group, I wanted to send a huge thank you to Glenn and the rest of the amazing people over at Gossamer for their support (figuratively and literally)! Now to figure out how to skin this thing…