Working with Giants Feb15

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Working with Giants

Tectonic Studio – Working with Giants

If you have walked through Gould Court over the past week, you may have noticed that the west end was swarmed by a series of (very) large displays. The normally wide open space was filled with several hundred pounds of wood, steel, and stone. The curious among you would have discovered that each display was a large scale precedent study, the result of three weeks of hard work by the current Arch 570 Tectonics class.

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Each mock-up was produced by a team of 3 to 6 students. The teams were tasked with selecting a precedent building, performing research on its construction, and then distilling the tectonic nature of the project into a sectional model. The models are not direct representations, nor are they meant to be. They are abstractions, as much display cases as tectonic models. Each is a slice of the building chosen, yet must define space on its own.

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 The large size of these mock-ups is intentional. While there is no scale requirement, the intent is to be as near full scale as possible. At these dimensions, gravity takes hold. Structure becomes an intimate part of the model. And yet, even at this large scale, the detail work finds its way into even the smallest of moments. If you look closely, you’d notice that the attachment of each fastener is meticulously selected;  countersunk screws drilled into a hand tapped steel tube, wooden pins instead of nails and functional cardboard pin joints. Even the way one fastens the mylar sheets to the display becomes one more item to obsess over.

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Creating these giants offers a level of feedback not provided in small scale models. Each material in the model has its own characteristics that need to be accommodated. The physical construction of a wall, once common in architecture school, is becoming rare. Yet there’s no better tool for learning than making something with your hands.

Finally, for those of you worried that all this material is going to waste, fear not. The Arch 570 class is dedicated to sustainability, and all the models have been repurposed into new uses. Our studios are filled with new tables, coat racks, and at least one new kissing booth, officially opened on Valentine’s Day.

 Written by Justin Schwartzhoff
Arch 570 is taught by Jim Nicholls, Senior Lecturer

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