Benefits of Using Digital Twins for Construction

Technologies like augmented reality in construction are emerging to digitalize the construction industry, making it significantly more effective.

What if we could have instant access to all the information about a construction site, down to smallest details about every person, tool, and bolt? What if we could always be sure about the final measurements of a beam or that soil volumes in the cuts are close to those of the fills? What if we could always track how fast the supply of materials runs out, and re-order supplies automatically?

All this is achievable with a digital twin — a concept of having a real-time digital representation of a physical object.

The following are some real-time digital twins applications on construction sites.

3d-model

Automated Progress Monitoring

Progress monitoring verifies that the completed work is consistent with plans and specifications. A physical site observation is needed in order to verify the reported percentage of work done and determine the stage of the project.

By reconstructing an as-built state of a building or structure we can compare it with an as-planned execution in BIM and take corresponding actions to correct any deviations. This is usually done by reconstructing geometry of a building and registering it to the model coordinate systems, which is later compared to an as-planned model on a shape and object level.

Often data for progress monitoring is collected through the field personnel and can be hugely subjective. For example, the reported percentage of work done can be faster in the beginning and much slower close to the end of the project. People are often initially more optimistic about their progress and the time needed to finish the job.

Hence, having automated means of data collection and comparison means that the resulting model to as-designed BIM models is less liable to human error. Digital twins solve the common construction process problems.

As-Built vs As-Designed Models

With a real-time digital twins, it is possible to track changes in an as-built model — daily and hourly. Early detection of any discrepancies can lead to a detailed analysis of historical modeling data, which adds an additional layer of information for any further decision-making processes.

The project manager can then reconstruct the steps that led to the error and make changes in the future work schedule in order to prevent any similar mistakes from occurring. They can also detect under-performers and try to fix the cause of the problem earlier in the project or plan the necessary changes to the budget and timescale of the whole project.

Resource Planning and Logistics

According to the Construction Industry Institute, about 25% of productive time is wasted on unnecessary movement and handling of materials.

Digital twin technology provides automatic resource allocation monitoring and waste tracking, allowing for a predictive and lean approach to resource management. With digital twin technology companies would avoid over-allocation and dynamically predict resource requirements on construction sites, thus avoiding the need to move resources over long distances and improving time management.

Safety Monitoring

The construction industry is one of the most dangerous sectors in the world. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the United States, more than four thousand construction workers died on-site between 2008 and 2012.

The real-time site reconstruction feature digital twins allows the industry’s companies to track people and hazardous places on a site, so as to prevent inappropriate behavior, usage of unsafe materials, and activity in hazardous zones. A company can develop a system of early notification, letting a construction manager know when a field worker is located in dangerous proximity to working equipment and sending a notification about nearby danger to a worker’s wearable device.

Microsoft recently shared a great vision of how AI combined with video cameras and mobile devices can be used to build an extensive safety net for the workplace.

Quality Assessment

Image-processing algorithms make it possible to check the condition of concrete through a video or photographic image. It is also possible to check for cracks on columns or any material displacement at a construction site. This would trigger additional inspections and thus help to detect possible problems early on.

See an example of how 2D images using 3D scene reconstruction can be used for concrete crack assessments.

Optimization of Equipment Usage

Equipment utilization is an important metric that construction firms always want to maximize. Unused machines should be released earlier to the pool so others can use them on other sites where they are needed. With advanced imaging and automatic tracking, it is possible to know how many times each piece of machinery has been used, at what part of the construction site, and on what type of the job.

Monitoring and Tracking of Workers

Some countries impose tough regulations on how to monitor people presence on a construction site. This includes having a digital record of all personnel and their location within the site, so that this information could be used by rescue teams in case of emergency. This monitoring is another digital twins application. Still, it is better to integrate digital twin-based monitoring with an automatic entry and exit registration system, to have a multi-modal data fused into a single analytics system.

Getting Data for Digital Twins

Some ways to gather data to be used for digital twins includes the following:

  1. Smartphone Cameras
  2. Time-Lapse Cameras
  3. Autonomous UAV and Robots
  4. Video Surveillance Cameras
  5. Head-mounted Cameras and Body Cameras

Image data processing algorithms for digital twins can be created with the following methods:

  1. 3D Reconstruction: Conventional Photogrammetry
  2. 3D Reconstruction: Structure from Motion
  3. Object Detection and Recognition
  4. Localization
  5. Object Tracking

(Source: https://www.intellectsoft.net/blog/advanced-imaging-algorithms-for-digital-twin-reconstruction)

From an Investor’s Viewpoint

On projects to date, this approach has proven to save time, reduce waste and increase efficiencies.

From a Standardization Proponent’s Viewpoint

Open, sharable information unlocks more efficient, transparent and collaborative ways of working throughout the entire life-cycle of buildings and infrastructure.

From a Solution Provider’s Viewpoint 

While the digital twin is needed initially for planning and construction, it’s also intended to provide the basis for building operations moving forward.

(Source: https://www.siemens.com/customer-magazine/en/home/buildings/three-perspectives-on-digital-twins.html)

The vision of “construction 4.0” refers to the 4th industrial revolution and is a fundamental challenge for the construction industry. In terms of automated production and level of digitalization, the construction industry is still significantly behind other industries. Nevertheless, the mega-trends like Big Data or the Internet of Things offer great opportunities for the future development of the construction sector. Prerequisite for the successful Construction 4.0 is the creation of a digital twin of a building. Building Information Modeling (BIM) with a consistent and structured data management is the key to generate such a digital building whose dynamic performance can be studied by building simulation tools for a variety of different boundary conditions.

Along the total life cycle from design to construction, operation and maintenance towards remodeling or demolition, the digital twin follows all modifications of the real building and dynamically readjusts itself in case of recorded performance differences.

Thus, for the whole life span of the real building, performance predictions generated with the virtual twin represent an accurate basis for well-informed decisions. This helps to develop cost-effective operation modes, e.g. by introducing new cyber-controlled HVAC systems. The digital twin may also analyze the building’s dynamic response to changes in occupation or energy supply; it also indicates the need for building maintenance or upgrades.

The digital twin follows all modifications of the real building and dynamically readjusts itself in case of recorded performance differences.

(Source: https://www.bau.fraunhofer.de/en/fieldsofresearch/smartbuilding/digital-twin.html)

Gartner-digital-twin-best-practices-to-tackle-challenges

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


Production & Productivity: Part 4/12 of the 12 P’s–– A Guideline of Design for Architects and Other People Who Want to Save the World and Design Like an Architect #ilmaBlog #Architecture

A 12 part series on the 12 P’s Doctrine: A Guideline of Design for Architects & Other People Who Want to Save the World and Design Like an Architect; developed by Frank Cunha III, AIA, NCARB, MBA.

PART FOUR

Project Resource Allocation and Resource Management 

The resources of an organization consist of people, materials, equipment, knowledge and time. Organizations typically have limited resources; therefore, tradeoffs on what project resources are expended and when are made every day within organizations. A resource allocation plan is an important tool in effective management of scarce resources. The timing of the need of those resources can be and should be determined within the project schedules. A resource plan, which describes the type of resource needed and the timing of that need, is critical to effective resource management. As the project schedule changes, the resource plan must also be flexible enough to adjust as these changes occur.

Production – During Design

Construction drawings are produced by the design team, and go through several drafts during the design phase before the final draft becomes part of the contract, which is then sent out to be bid on by contractors. The winning contractor is bound by all of the contract documentation, including the construction drawings (click here for more information).

Construction Drawings:

  • Represent the building as a whole as designed
  • Are produced by the design team
  • In a traditional construction environment, are created before the project is bid on
  • Are official contract documents
  • Are subject to mark-ups, change orders, and redlining throughout the project

Shop Drawings:

  • Represent building components as designed
  • Are produced by the contractor and subcontractors
  • In a traditional construction environment, are created after the project is awarded and before construction begins
  • Are not usually official contract documents
  • May be subject to mark-ups, change orders, and redlining

As-Built Drawings:

  • Represent the building as a whole and all its components as actually constructed
  • Are produced by the contractor and subcontractors
  • Are produced after the project is complete
  • Are sometimes mandated by the contract but are not part of the contract documents
  • May be subject to change during later renovations, but represent the final documents upon completion of initial construction

Production – During Construction

Lean Project Delivery

  • Lean construction is a method of production aimed at reducing costs, materials, time and effort.
  • Minimize the bad and maximize the good.
  • The desired outcome would be to maximize the value and output of a project while minimizing wasteful aspects and time delay.
  • Beneficial for general and subcontractors
  • Communication drives the project
  • What goals should the project team be working toward?
  • What goals can be achieved reasonably?
  • What commitments has each last planner made?
  • Has each contractor or supplier met their schedule promises?
  • How has each company performed, and what could be changed or improved if any member of the project team fails to meet a milestone?

Prefabricated Construction

  • Material Management and Installation
  • Formal Quality Program
  • Efficient Coordination of Work
  • Diligent Supervision of Work
  • Standardized Internal Inspection and Tests
  • Third Party and Consultant Reviews
  • Improved Communications
  • Experienced Teams and Worker Skills
  • Quality Culture
  • Prefab rooms allow for simultaneous progress
  • Easy assembly for large projects
  • Streamlining onsite labor processes

Types of Prefab:

  • Panelized Wood Framing
  • Timber Framing
  • Concrete Systems
  • Steel Framing
  • Modular Systems

Benefits of Prefab

  • Eco-Friendly
  • Financial Savings
  • Consistent Quality
  • Flexibility
  • Reduced Site Disruption
  • Shorter Construction Time
  • Safety

Technology and Automation

Subscribe to our blog for updates on each of the 12 doctrines established by Frank CunhaIII, AIA, NCARB, MBA.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

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The @FelicianoCenter’s @MIXLabDesign Design Charrette for “B.E.L.A.” Summer High School Program Entailing the Redevelopment of a Significant Urban Historic Site #UrbanPlanning #Redevelopment #Business #Entrepreneur #Education #HighSchool #DesignThink #Innovation #NJEd @MontclairStateU

On July 9, 2019, in the capacity of University Architect at Montclair State University (and Alumni of the Feliciano School of Business). I had the privilege of participating in a design charrette with a local high school. The project consists of an urban redevelopment site with a precious historical building at the site. I was invited by the people who run the Montclair State University MIX Lab (Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship), an interdisciplinary hub for transformative innovation, and digitally mediated making.

M.I.X. stands for Making and Innovating for X, where X is the unknown, that which exceeds our grasp, the future, and the open-ended nature of creativity, good design and big problems. The co-directors of MIX Lab are Iain Kerr, associate professor of Innovation Design, and Jason Frasca, entrepreneurship instructor.

I graciously accepted Jason and Ian’s invitation to participate as a guest critic along with another fellow professional, Frank Gerard Godlewski of Fellsbridge Studio LLC, who specializes in historic preservation in the area where the redevelopment project is located.  The format for the design charrette, hosted by the MIX Lab for the high school program led by high school teacher, Kevin Richburg, included: (1) The students, in groups of 4-5, presented their concepts for the redevelopment of the site (there were 5 teams); (2) the guest critics gave suggestions and further thoughts on how to further explore and develop the student’s ideas; (3) the guest critics summed up their thoughts for all the students with key take-aways.  The following is a recap of what I learned from the students (in so far as what is the most significant to them) and the key take-aways I offered the students (in no particular order of importance) from my perspective as an Architect who has been involved in the planning, design and construction of projects over the past 20-years.

What the Student Teams Focused on as Key Ideas for their Projects:

  • Historic preservation of the existing building
  • Connecting with local community
  • Local and state pride
  • Affordability
  • Sustainability
  • Celebration of diversity and inclusion
  • Love of the arts
  • Focus on the user “experience”
  • Spaces for families to enjoy
  • Entertainment
  • Accessibility to quality food and goods
  • Mixing of “Bright and Bold” historic and modern elements
  • Transformative
  • “Modern” vibe

Proposed Amenities of the Re-Development Site:

  • Supermarkets (one group proposed a two-story whole sale supermarket)
  • Open-air markets (farmer markets, etc.)
  • Retail, restaurants, food trucks
  • Open space, a square or plaza
  • Parking for visitors (possible tunnel or bridge)
  • Parking at perimeter

Types of Buildings (Programmed Spaces)

  • Main historic building’s exterior appearance
  • Main historic building’s exterior appearance
  • Explore modernization of existing historic building interior to suite new uses
  • Mixed use buildings with green roofs and roof top patios
  • Modern, light and transparent
  • Restaurants and sports bars
  • Entertainment – bowling alley, arcade, movie theater
  • Arts – Museum showcasing tradition and innovation
  • Grocery stores
  • Food trucks
  • Retail
  • Technology/electronics-based retail
  • Main historic building’s exterior appearance
  • Explore modernization of existing historic building interior to suite new uses
  • Mixed use buildings with green roofs and roof top patios
  • Modern, light and transparent
  • Restaurants and sports bars
  • Entertainment – bowling alley, arcade, movie theater
  • Arts – Museum showcasing tradition and innovation
  • Grocery stores
  • Food trucks
  • Retail
  • Technology/electronics-based retail

Types of Exterior Spaces

  • Open spaces with green lawns and fountains
  • Places to reflect and remember
  • ·Field with stage and seating
  • Outdoor seating for restaurants
  • Areas to relax

Key Take-Aways & Ideas for Further Exploration:

  • Site plans – Delineate site elements separately from building elements (so easier to comprehend) using color or graphics (Example)
  • Floor plans – Delineate building areas/rooms with designated color so it is easier to understand program of spaces (i.e., circulation vs apartments vs retail vs support spaces, etc.) (Example)
  • Work together as a team – commemorate each other’s strengths but give everyone credit even those whose work may be behind the scenes
  • Focus on one main idea (let other ideas support the one main theme)
  • Context and Scale – Observe and learn from the surrounding community; apply those elements to the proposed project so that it complements the adjoining communities
  • Materials – Understand how the new materials can complement the historic ones (let the original historic building stand on its own and celebrate its historical significance)
  • Consider “big box” retail versus the Local “pop ups” (gentrification good and bad)
  • Parking/Transportation – As mass transportation has changed from ships to locomotives to buses and cars; look to the future as the world heads to autonomous vehicles (particularly China).  If parking is required think about how a parking lot or parking garage can be transformed in the future.  Example
  • Sustainability is important but do not forget to consider W.E.L.L. as well.  LEED/Sustainability concepts Resource 1 ; Resource 2 also check out the following link for ides about other program types for the redevelopment project Resource 3
  • Consider more technology in your projects, for instance: Smart CitiesAR/VR, and other innovate concepts, like: Immersive Experience and Virtual reality in theme park attractions. Also consider utilizing QR Codes as a teaching tool.
  • Consider developing a pedestrian mall by converting an existing street into a pedestrian friendly zone like they have done in Jersey City, NJ or Times Square, New York City, NY or Fremont Street Experience in Downtown Las Vegas, NV, the taking cars, trucks and buses off the street and giving the spaces back to the pedestrians who can enjoy it (also it would make the entire site one big site instead of two separate parcels dived by thru traffic).
  • Lastly, and not least important, when considering injecting modern elements with historic architecture, it must be considered whether the original is to remain intact or be altered.  There are interesting examples of tasteful alterations, however, the older I get the less comfortable I am with injecting new with old for the sake of “shock” value (where as a student of architecture 20 years ago the concept was more appealing).  I reminded the students of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, and the ensuing debate that is going on whether or not the renovations/upgrades should be true to the original or whether the new design should be bold and innovating and perhaps less true to the original.  Whether the designers choose to go in one direction or another much thought should be given to preserving the historical elements of our precious structures because they are irreplaceable (think Grand Central Station in New York City, NY, which acted as a catalyst for the preservation movement).  Click here to read about the history of the Preservation Battle of Grand Central Station.

Overall, I was impressed by the talent and creativity of all the students and I was pleased with the quality of their presentations. I hope I was able to contribute in some small way to the success of their respective projects.  The high school student participants’ contributions to the build environment would be welcomed by the design and construction industry, since the students are willing to understand and develop their skills in the area of deep thought, innovation, design, construction and socio-economic concepts at an early age.  I gladly encouraged each and every one of them by letting them know that if they choose a career in architecture, engineering, real-estate development, construction or related field that they would certainly all be able to achieve their goals based on their willingness and eagerness to learn and present their visions and concepts.   I hope my involvement was as rewarding for the students as it was for me.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


Architecture Robots

Environmental Robots

Robots Revolutionizing Architecture's Future 003

Robots are increasingly being utilized in everyday life to monitor and improve our environments. For example, Researchers from theNational University of Singapore have created a bevy of robotic swans that are designed to monitor the quality of freshwater lakes and reservoirs – such as levels of dissolved oxygen or chlorophyll – while blending in with the natural environment. The robotic birds, fitted with a number of sensors, autonomously swim across the water’s surface using underbody propellers.

(Source: https://www.dezeen.com/tag/robots/)

Robots in Construction

060306_040_ProduktionCurtainWal_SilvanOesterle_023

At ETH Zurich, Gramazio & Kohler, an architectural partnership that is especially
known for its contribution to digital fabrication and robotic construction, taught at class
using a robot arm to lay bricks. This is the course as they describe it:

“If the basic manufacturing conditions of architecture shift from manual work to digital
fabrication, what design potential is there for one of the oldest and most widespread
architectural elements — the brick? Students investigated this question in a four-week
workshop, designing brick walls to be fabricated by an industrial robot. Unlike a mason,
the robot has the ability to position each individual brick in a different way without optical reference or measurement, i.e. without extra effort. To exploit this potential, the students developed algorithmic design tools that informed the bricks of their spatial disposition according to procedural logics. Positioning this way it was possible to draft a brick wall in which each of over 400 bricks took up a specific position and rotation in space. The students defined not the geometry of the wall, but the constructive logic according to which the material was organized in a particular temporal order, and which thus produced an architectonic form.”

Though robot arms are currently the most prevalent form of robotics in architecture,
architects and designers have begun to employ other, and sometimes more radical,
robotic strategies for design. Gramazio & Kohler, in collaboration with Raffaello
d’Andrea recently put together an exhibition titled ‘Flight Assembled Architecture’ for
which small quad-rotor helicopter bots assembled a 6m-tall and 3.5m wide tower out of
1500 polystyrene foam blocks in Orléans, France.

(Source:https://www.archdaily.com/336849/5-robots-revolutionizing-architectures-future)

Robots Revolutionizing Architecture's Future 002

Walmart filed five more patents for farming processes

The patent was one of six filed by Walmart, including several focused on automating agricultural processes. The supermarket chain also plans to use drones for spraying pesticides and monitoring crop conditions.

However artificial pollination has the bigger potential to significantly affect the company’s business.

According to research by Greenpeace, pollination by bees contributes $265 billion to the global economy. So, with the world’s bee population now in major decline, robotic alternatives could prove necessary to meet the global demand for food production.

Walmart isn’t the first to have invested in artificial-pollination technology. Brisbane-based artist Michael Candy recently unveiled his design for a device featuring 3D-printed robotic flowers, while a research lab in Japan recently became the first to successfully achieve pollination using a drone.

(Source: https://www.dezeen.com/2018/03/20/walmart-patent-autonomous-robot-bees-pollinating-drones/)

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


Significant Architecture : 2012

Significant Architecture : 2012
By Frank Cunha III, AIA

There is so much going on in the world of Architecture around us today and so many interesting projects that to only select 10 significant projects proves difficult if not impossible.  I hope that the following offers a glimpse to what I have been exposed to recently. I also want to apologize in advance for the scores of projects I missed but I hope are immortalized here with their counterparts.

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Architectural Revival – United Nations Headquarters

Whenever we as Architects think of our projects we seldom think of them as “temporary.”  Afterall, one of the things we strive for as Architects is immortality.  Our desire is that our souls live on in the buildings and spaces that we create.  That is why I wanted to select recent project that incorporated the revitalization of a masterful work of architecture.  Here is an example of what is possible when a project is revisited and enhanced to meet the needs of its occupants.  I also wanted to show case this building because of what is stands for and as an example of how far Architecture is able to reach people across the globe and able to unite us as a family of human beings.

International Style – Revival of an Icon: The United Nations renovation team brings back the long-faded luster of the Secretariat while satisfying ambitious performance goals.

The following was originally published in an Observer article “U.N. Architects Back to the Drawing Board; Pritzker Winner Still on Board” by Matt Chaban:

“The United Nations has a long tradition of employing the world’s finest architects.

The original Secretariat complex was the work of Le Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer, two of the most revered designers ever to pick up a T-square. DC-1 and DC-2, the 1976 expansion of the campus better known as U.N. Plaza, was designed by Kevin Roche, builder of many New York towers and heir to the throne of Eero Saarinen.

In 2002, when it came time to plan for a new tower to house this globetrotting workforce, the United Nations Development Corporation, the city agency that handles all U.N. property, held a competition. It was open only to Pritzker Prize winners, and Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki was selected in 2004. Not long after, the project ran into political hurdles and was put on hold, but earlier this month Albany, the city and the U.N. reached a deal so the project can move forward. Almost as soon as the ink had dried on the land swap, Mr. Maki and his local partners, FXFowle, unrolled their blueprints and got back to work.”

The following was originally published in the September 2012 issue of the Architectural Record:

“The original design-team members were not oblivious to the problems associated with their orientation choice, however, Le Corbusier argued for an envelope solution that included external shading devices, such as the brise-soleil that had been installed on his 1933 Salvation Army project in Paris several years after its completion. Harrison, meanwhile, advocated the use of insulated glazing, a new technology consisting of two layers of glass with a sealed air space in between. The U.N. originally chose insulated glazing based on a cost study by the mechanical-engineering firm Syska Hennessy (which, coincidentally, is also the mechanical engineer for the U.N. renovation). The study showed that the new glazing technology would be less expensive and easier to maintain than the combination of conventional glazing and an external shading system. However, the insulated glass was also eventually eliminated from the specifications, not only due to its cost premium over single glazing but also because the layered glass was too heavy for the double-hung sashes. Its international design team notwithstanding, the Secretariat “fell victim to that uniquely American practice affectionately known as ‘value engineering,’ ” says Heintges.

Architecture Under Construction – One World Trade Center

Probably one of the most significant projects currently under construction is the new tower located at One WTC.  Apart from exemplifying that un-built Architecture (as one of my college professor put it) is merely masturbation which is part of the reason it was selected.  More importantly One WTC was picked because it shows how the forces of a people come together to construct a symbolic structure that radiates meaning to everyone who sees it.  Both as an object and as a place to be occupied One WTC, once completed, will serve as a symbol of the city it inhabits.

Gross square footage: 3,500,000 square feet
Total construction cost: $3.19 billion
Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

The following was originally published in the September 2011 issue of the Architectural Record:

There is no denying that One World Trade Center (WTC), the 104-story tower now rising at the northern end of the Ground Zero site, is a tremendously ambitious commercial real estate venture. The building, owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey with the developer Durst Organization holding a 10 percent stake, will contain 3.1 million square feet of office space when completed in late 2013. Below grade, connected to the WTC site’s vast underground transportation infrastructure, there will be 55,000 square feet of retail, and near the top, the tower will include a two-level observation deck and a restaurant. But when the designers of the $3.19 billion project describe the building, they generally focus first on its potential as a symbol: “It will serve as the marker of the 9/11 memorial on the skyline,” says David Childs, consulting design partner to Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM).

A Return to “Modern” – The Barnes Foundation

This “Retro” project is an example of how Architects study the Architecture that came before them and build on it accumulated knowledge.  All Architecture, no matter how innovating, stands on the shoulders of the ones who came before it.  In this example, the Architects draw clues from a few of the greats: Louis Kahn, Carlo Scarpa, and Edward Larrabee Barnes—masters of the late-Modern museum to create their very own masterpiece.

Completion Date: May 2012
Gross square footage: 93,000 GSF
Total Project cost: $150M
Architect: Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects

The following was originally published in the June 2012 issue of the Architectural Record:

“Taking cues from the designs of Louis Kahn, Carlo Scarpa, and Edward Larrabee Barnes—masters of the late-Modern museum—the new Barnes shows its architects (who are best known for their modestly sized, now closed American Folk Art Museum in New York City) working at a high level. Most impressive of all is the thoughtful sense of procession that carries visitors through the $150 million complex, first from the outside in and then from the museum’s airy common spaces almost inexorably toward the smaller-scaled galleries.”

Curvalicious Architecture – Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center

Love or hate ‘em—the Starkitects also define the direction of Architecture.  Ever since I first laid my eyes on Zaha’s sketches back in Architecture School I have been a sucker of her work.  The trends of post-modernism culled with a dash of the post-PM millennium design prevalent in Rem Koolhaus, Morphosis, Peter Eisenman, and Zaha Hadid’s work is one that will shape our landscape forever. This kind of design shows how Architects are able to reshape nature, albeit on a temporary basis, to alter the surfaces, forms, and materials that we are able to enjoy as we move through the spaces – inside and outside.

From Wiki:

The Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center is a cultural complex in BakuAzerbaijan, named after former president of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev. The complex is designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid

The Cultural Center houses a conference hall with three auditoriums, a library and a museum. The project is intended to play an integral role in the intellectual life of the city. Located close to the city center, the site plays a pivotal role in the redevelopment of Baku. The site neighbouring the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center is designated for residential, offices, a hotel and commercial center, whilst the land between the Cultural Center and the city’s main thoroughfare will become the Cultural Plaza – an outdoor piazza for the Cultural Center as well as a welcoming space for the visitors.

The Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center represents a fluid form which emerges by the folding of the landscape’s natural topography and by the wrapping of individual functions of the Center. All functions of the Center, together with entrances, are represented by folds in a single continuous surface. This fluid form gives an opportunity to connect the various cultural spaces whilst, at the same time, providing each element of the Center with its own identity and privacy. As it folds inside, the skin erodes away to become an element of the interior landscape of the Cultural Center.

Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center had an official soft-opening ceremony on 10 May 2012 held by current president of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. As of today, works on the interiors are still ongoing and the building is not open to the public yet.

Religious –   St. Nicholas Eastern Orthodox Church

Architecture, for me, is spiritual.  It is a divine connection between the creator, the occupant, and the spiritual world.  This simple church demonstrates how function can follow form.  It is simple and economically feasible for the patrons.  It is sleek and modern and addresses the needs of the client and the occupants.  The bright red cross offers a clear symbol indicating the use of the building.

Gross square footage: 3,600 sq.ft.
Cost: $405,000
Completion date: December 2009
Architect Marlon Blackwell Architect

The following was originally published in the November 2011 issue of the Architectural Record:

“The congregation couldn’t afford to build a brand new church. They may in about seven years, when the current mortgage is paid off and membership grows from 120 to a projected 200 parishioners. In the meantime, Jonathan Boelkins, project manager, says he and his team thought about tearing down the shed. “But it had structure and it had a roof, and so we thought, well, we’ll see what we can do with it,” he says. Boelkins and Blackwell wanted to give the building a presence from the road and, as Blackwell says, “give spirit form in the present.” They studied the history of Orthodox churches and found that their designs vary widely in the world: Each takes on a regional identity, rooted in its time, and St. Nicholas would be no different.

Blackwell and his team kept the roof, the structure, and the original skin on all but the western elevation and other, select areas. But they wrapped the building in new box-ribbed metal panels, keeping the western elevation white and the rest a dark bronze. “The panels are just exquisite,” says Blackwell. “They turn the building into corduroy.”

The shed’s long axis ran north-south, but the Orthodox like to pray facing east. The architects added a narrow addition to the western elevation to create the narthex. They moved the front entrance to the western elevation and marked the interior entry to the sanctuary with a steeple. Focus in the sanctuary is on the iconostasis in front of the altar, where Father John Atchison, parish priest, performs the rituals of the service under a slot window that allows morning light to filter in.”

Architecture as Sculpture – Wendy at MoMA PS1

All Architecture has the ability to function as art in some capacity.  In this case Architecture can be displayed, looked at, and occupied.  It is also important to think about Architecture as something that can transform, be put up, taken down, and reinstalled someplace else.  Various applications and variations on this theme exist. What is also exciting about this project is that the Architects gave this object a name, which makes the Architecture itself a personified character with it’s own personality.

The following was originally published on MoMA PS1’s website:

“The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 announce HWKN (Matthias Hollwich and Marc Kushner, New York) as the winner of th annual Young Architects Program (YAP) in New York. Now in its 13th edition, the Young Architects Program at MoMA and MoMA PS1 has been committed to offering emerging architectural talent the opportunity to design and present innovative projects, challenging each year’s winners to develop creative designs for a temporary, outdoor installation at MoMA PS1 that provides shade, seating, and water. The architects must also work within guidelines that address environmental issues, including sustainability and recycling. HWKN, drawn from among five finalists, will design a temporary urban landscape for the 2012 Warm Up summer music series in MoMA PS1’s outdoor courtyard.”

Architecture Fun – Playing with Barcodes

Architecture can be playful.  There are many examples of this throughout history.  This project incorporates emerging technology with playfulness.

The following was originally published by the Curators of the Russian Pavilion by Sergei Tchoban and Sergey Kuznetsov of SPEECH Tchoban & Kuznetsov

“Every surface inside the top floor of the Russian Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale is covered in QR codes, which visitors decode using tablet computers to explore ideas for a new Russian city dedicated to science.

In our pavilion we have tried to find an architecture metaphor for connecting the real and the virtual. People today live at the intersection of on- and off-line; ‘our common ground’ is becoming a cipher for infinite mental spaces.”

Transportation Architecture – Kaohsiung Port and Cruise Service Center

Architecture plays an important role as a connector.  One example where Architecture engages a site and its occupants is this waterfront terminal. The building’s occupants are surrounded by fluid forms, shapes and materials.

The following was originally published on ArchDaily’s website on December 14, 2010:

“Check out Reiser + Umemoto’s latest win for the Kaohsiung Port and Cruise Service Center in southern Taiwan. Working with Taipei-based Fei and Cheng and Associates, New York-based Ysrael A. Seinuk, PC and Hong-Kong based Arup, the new development exploits its waterfront placement as tumbling organic wave-like volumes cascade out toward the waves.

The port terminal is an experiment of “dynamic 3-dimensional urbanism” which amplifies the flow of pedestrian traffic through an elevated and activated boardwalk which runs continuously along the water. Meanwhile, beneath this level of public promenade, cruise and ferry functions are located just below. In this way, the layers create a dense range of programs, yet separating the cruises and ferries help maintain secure areas for departing/arriving passengers.

Structurally, the building’s skin is a system of nested, long-span shells.  The shells are composed of an underlying steel pipe space frame which is sandwiched by cladding panels to create a useable cavity space. “Overall an experience of directed yet funactionally separated flows will lend an aura of energy to the point terminal space,” explained the architects.

The project is scheduled for construction in 2012 and expected to be in operation by 2014, with a construction budget of approximately $85,000,000 USD. The competition is sponsored by the Kaohsiung Harbor Bureau, Ministry of Transportation and Communications, Taiwan, ROC.”

Architecture as Public Space

We look to Architecture for meaning.  On this project an Artist and Architect team up to create this fantastic object in the landscape.  Architecture can exist without a roof or walls.

Completion Date: June 2012

Artist: James Turrell

Technical Architect:
Thomas Phifer and Partners
180 Varick Street, 11th Floor
New York, NY 10014

The following was originally published in the July 2012 issue of the Architectural Record:

Anchoring the western end of Rice University’s main quad in Houston, James Turrell’s new 118-foot-square Skyspace emerges from the earth (or lands from the heavens, depending on how you see it) in front of the monolithic Shepherd School of Music. “This is architecture that light and space makes,” explains the artist. When the sun illuminates the atmosphere, you can’t see through it to view the stars that are there, he points out. “Light not only reveals, it also obscures—so you can actually build a space with it. I use light and architecture in that way: to limit space and to reveal it, either way.”

Turrell started his series of Skyspaces—enclosed rooms with an aperture open to the sky—in the 1970s, and to date he has created 73 across the world. In the early days, he would often make his works by cutting through existing buildings, such as his Meeting at New York’s MoMA PS1. But, to avoid irritating architects, as he says (and perhaps being irritated by them as well), he graduated to creating autonomous structures: buildings with holes designed in them, and no real function, much like a folly or gazebo.

Dubbed Twilight Epiphany, Turrell’s piece at Rice is composed of a 12-foot-8-inch-high grass berm that rises against the backdrop of the campus’s neo-Byzantine brick academic quads. The truncated pyramid form, which employs a concrete structure below and steel columns above, is topped with a 72-foot-square conventional membrane roof with a steel-plate knife-edge and a 14-foot-square aperture at its center. A lower-level seating area accommodates 44 people and features the artist’s trademark benches, made of Texas pink granite. Precast-concrete seating for 76 occupies the upper viewing area, where LEDs are installed for the two daily light shows programmed to correspond with sunrise and sunset. Made possible by a gift from Rice trustee and alumna Suzanne Deal Booth, who suggested the university work with Turrell, the Skyspace is the artist’s first engineered for sound (he worked with the music school to develop the concept), and it will host a variety of performances, some specially created for the space.

“We took James’s drawings and we turned them into something,” says Phifer, who has worked with numerous artists over the years and was happy to add Turrell to the roster. Not surprisingly, Turrell was very particular about the dimensions and scale of the room, the height the roof rose above the berm, the exact size of the opening, and the precision of the knife-edge, says the architect. “All of those details he’s been doing for most of his life—it’s a huge part of this work. The result is hypnotic. You’re taken to another place.”

“Though my work may not inform architecture, it can inform an architect about how we perceive,” says Turrell. “My interest is working in this space that we inhabit, which is not always the physical space that we have built.”

During the day, Twilight Epiphany gleams, a beautiful object offering an intriguing pause against the columned facade of the aggressively Postmodern Ricardo Bofill music school. As night falls, the colors projected on the levitating white canopy shift in juxtaposition to those in the sky. The frame brings passing objects into surreal focus—a cloud, a plane, a bug—and the walls dissipate, leaving you to consider the multitude of possibilities beyond.

The Architecture of Giving – Designing With a Purpose

Last but not least is this place holder for the Architecture of giving.  There are so many exciting and interesting projects taking place around the world around us.  Architects (like Doctors Without Borders) give back to the communities they serve and the global community.  After disasters Architects and their counterparts (Engineers, designers, contractors, etc), help in the cleanup and rebuilding process.  It is important to remember that all these projects make a difference in the lives of the people that they impact.  Although they do not always wind up in a book or magazine, these projects are still examples of what it means to be a great Architect by providing design expertise in adverse conditions.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post.  We sincerely appreciate all your comments.

If you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,

Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


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