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Technology on Small Projects

Hello all –  as some may know I have been working on a local project were I have used technology that some may call ‘small’. Over the past several years I have employed design technologies on large projects of many types and I am confident that smaller projects can be served well from strategic use of the same design technology. Specifically I am in the process of installing a large art piece for a local artist here in Charlotte. Tom Schulz envisioned a piece he describes as Generative Art ©. This is a multifaceted concept that allows the artist, architects, contractors and owners to share in a work and process that they all can be proud of in their respective context. The main driver in this project is that Hospice is in need of funds and Novant Health’s Presbyterian Medical Center had a courtyard that was used by many people but was not originally designed for rest and contemplation. The story starts many years ago and has many parts that Tom has already implemented such as the Courtyard Labyrinth, but the part we are currently installing is called the Remembrance Wall © and is part of the Jack Matney Courtyard. The application of technology started early in the analysis of the magnitude of donation tiles that we could fit into the specified area. The Remembrance Wall when done will hold 1,536 back painted acrylic tiles.

Originally, Tom had figured for a specific amount of tiles but after talking with him and his approach for holding the tiles in place, ie: the structure, I added my conjecture that we could optimize the holding structure and achieve a look that is more in keeping with Tom’s final vision of a 20′ x 40′ painting that was made of 8″x 8″ back painted acrylic tiles. So with that I turned to Rhino/Grasshopper!

I quickly made a definition that would allow me to increase and decrease the size and distribution of tiles. In the end we decided on 7 3/4″ x 7 3/4″ tiles all set to 1/8″ reveals. This is a pretty stringent criteria for assembling this many tiles! It is one thing to say these measurements but knowing construction like I do, I saw the potential for mishaps if we did not take control of the construction and assembly of these parts. We needed the accuracy to achieve the 1/8″ reveal but also designed in “play” to adjust for the reality of building something this large of out this many small pieces. After we had a good feeling for the layout and number I then built this in Revit. Using curtain panels to be the tile and the mullions to be the vertical structure I was able to quickly understand just how much steel we needed through very simple means. I created schedules for weights & quantity and was able to transition into shop drawings quickly. Last week we shipped the fabricated steel lattice, that will suspend the tiles, to the painters and  we will soon be on site installing the lattice work. I am currently working on the laser-cut files we are sending off to the shop that will do all the Acrylic work. The project is set to open on September 27th, keep checking back on progress…

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