Authors : Keegan D. Quick and Mikhail M. Gladchenko

University : Southern California Institute of Architecture

Status : MArch II, 2014

Title : Memorial Transit Shelter

“The transit shelter stands as an example of the power of collaborative efforts and the integration of traditional design methodology with new and emerging design and fabrication technologies”

This project, supported by numerous donors for The City of Tempe as a memorial for Mary O’Connor; is an [ investigation ] into the usage of parametric design processes, methods of digital fabrication and material adaptation. The goal was to create a generative and flexible retrofit strategy for the City’s existing transit shelters; a strategy that can be utilized to create an [ infinite ] number of designs each specific to its context and environment.

The shelter design evolved with Architekton through the usage of a  [parametric design ] process that allows for generative solutions; ensuring the most appropriate design for any given shelter and its context. Pulling from the immediate context; a diagrid was employed to directly connect the formal nature of the existing site; Tempe City Hall. The [ diagrid ] introduces a 3-dimensional grid space that is generative, flexible and creates the initial formal scaffolding upon which the design in generated. Further utilizing parametric design processes, the design evolved to meet specific design parameters such as environmental performance, material efficiency, and code requirements. Through the strict governing of design criteria and parameters; a new process was created that provides a revolutionary way of thinking aesthetics and performance in architectural design.

Parametric design is a process based on [ procedural thinking ] that enables the expression of parameters and rules that, together, define and clarify the relationship between design intent and design response. Parametric design engenders a new opportunity to utilize emerging technologies to streamline design, fabrication and construction processes; where singular solution-thinking is replaced by procedural-thinking. This allows for unprecedented levels of flexibility and multiplicity of solutions that eliminate the barrier between design and fabrication processes. Parametric design process embeds relationships between [ elements ] that are used to manipulate,generate, and inform the design of complex geometries and structures. This process directly streamlines into the logic of how the shelter is actually produced. Using advanced methods of [ digital modeling] , the entire design was digitally pre-fabricated to ensure extreme tolerances and part accuracy. Further leveraging advanced digital processes the shelter was all digitally fabricated with extreme accuracy using a CNC Router.

High Density Polyethylene [ HDPE ] is a class of materials that have been utilized in a variety of applications; this material implies a paradigm shift in architecture and fabrication. Typically used in industrial applications and most commonly in children’s playgrounds; HDPE has superior structural and environmental performance as well as providing unprecedented durability for transit shelters. This material is fully UV stabilized, impact resistant, graffiti proof and will not radiate heat. In the context of Tempe, these are critical material traits for this application. This material allows real progress in the contemporary desire to unify formal, structural, ornamental and environmental performance systems. Strips of heat formed HDPE comprise the cladding of the structure in a simple wrapping logic, minimizing material and fabrication time. The creative usage of HDPE also allows opportunities in fabrication methodology, assembly, engineering and environmental performance; issues that are not typically addressed in a holistic manner.
The transit shelter stands as an example of the [ power ] of collaborative efforts and the integration of traditional design methodology with new and emerging design and fabrication technologies. The Mary O’Connor Memorial Transit Shelter is neither a simple expression of material tectonics nor a legible response to contextual forces. As in mathematics, it is a system which generates performative solutions in a fully optimized manner. It’s form is not reducible; it can only be associated to a complex set of design and fabrication parameters. Efficiency and simplification define the project as much as the formal, structural and material intelligence.

Interview

S//A : What’s the most important aspect of this project that we should be aware of?
Keegan Quick and Mikhail Gladchenko_ The transit shelter stands as an example of the power of collaborative efforts and the integration of traditional design methodology with new and emerging design and fabrication technologies. The Mary O’Connor Memorial Transit Shelter is neither a simple expression of material tectonics nor a legible response to contextual forces. As in mathematics, it is a system which generates performative solutions in a fully optimized manner. Its form is not reducible; it can only be associated to a complex set of design and fabrication parameters. Efficiency and simplification define the project as much as the formal, structural and material intelligence.

S//A : What other fields outside of architecture interest you?
KQ + MG_ Photography, Film, Computer Graphics. We utilize each of these when representing our architectural projects.

S//A : Most important thing you learned in architecture school?
KQ + MG_ How to pull off the seemingly impossible in a short amount of time. Our time at Sci-arc has taught us to always look for a new way of formalizing architecture, and to never settle with a pragmatic solution.

S//A : Describe your dream project
KQ + MG_ Large scale public art in the form of an Architectural Installation. This gives us the freedom to experiment with Avant Garde form and new fabrication methods.