History of Innovation

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Archive for the ‘Complex Geometry’ Category

2007: Digital Project

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Image Source: 1 2

Innovation:  Digital Project (software)
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Year:  2007
By: Gehry Technologies

The design of the Bilbao Guggenheim museum was a collaboration between Frank Ghery (architect) and SOM(engineering), utilizing a customized version of Catia (3D aerospace software) which has eventually been packaged as Digital Project.  After the successful development of a solution to describing and designing such complex geometries, architect Frank Ghery decided to create a branch of his office called Ghery Technologies, to offer design services and sales of a software product (Digital Project) specifically for projects with complex geometries.

Digital Project is a design platform with Computer Aided Three Dimensional Interactive Application V5 capability that was developed by Gehry Technologies in 2007. It is used to design and document architectural projects with complex geometries.  Various AutoCAD and Revit editions were the most common forms of 3d modeling software used before Digital Project, but once DP was released it posed as a direct 3dCAD competitor in the architecture market. New and different components to the software included the visual interface, cost estimation tool, advanced parametric control of curved 3D objects, and, in contrast to CAD, DP provided the option of information to be sent directly to the manufacturer [1]. By avoiding loss of time in unnecessary processing and improving collaboration, DP improved the design process. Today Gehry Technologies offers three forms of DP, Designer, Viewer, and an extensions package. The Designer and Extensions package together posses the tools to create architecture designs in addition to MEP systems/routing all with a single form of software [2]. [3]  `

Web links to more info about Digital Project: 12,
Video: Frank Gehry talks about Digital Project


Written by Charys Clay

October 7, 2007 at 9:09 pm

2005: Metropol Parasol – Seville, Spain

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Source of Images and More Images of Metropol Parasol

Building: Metropol Parasol
Location: Seville, Spain
Construction years: 2005-2011
Architect: J. Mayer H. Architects (Jürgen Mayer-Hermann)
Structural Engineer: Arup

The Metropol Parasol has displayed a new innovative way to use timber in construction.  First of all, it is the largest wooden structure in the world.  The building spans over 10,500 square meters, encasing 5,000 square meters and standing about 26 meters high.  Not only that, but it also displays complex geometry rather than rectangular.  This waffle-like timber structure serves as a canopy while also housing multiple bars and restaurants.  The site called for a structure that would not ruin the historical grounds.  Therefore, Roman and Moorish ruins discovered on site are displayed to the public on a floor underground and the structure itself only connects to the ground in a few locations.  After many years of delay in construction, in order to accomplish these goals and make the structure stand, the timber and steel was bonded with high-performance polyurethane resin, a foam seal.  This “glue” was tested to ensure it could withstand the highest possible temperatures.  The structure stands on a concrete foundation with an interior of concrete, steel, and granite.

Sources and more information:
General information
Photos, floor plans, and design models
Photos, detailed information, and a video

Written by Krista Seaman

October 7, 2005 at 8:51 pm

1996 – L’Oceanografic

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Image Source: [1],[2]

Innovation: L’Oceanografic/thin-shell concrete structure
Location: Valencia, Spain
Year: 1996
By: Felix Candela

Spanish born architect Felix Candela used thin-shell reinforced concrete to create his signature hyperbolic parabola structures.  L’Oceanographic in Valencia, Spain was his final project, which was completed posthumously (1997).  The hyperbolic parabola shape of the roof was inspired by the Los Manantiales Restaurant in Mexico City, which Candela designed in 1958.  In this building, Candela integrated design and sound structure.  In his time, most shell-like structures had to be reinforced with ribs, which added to the structures thickness, and took away from its simplicity.  Candela accepted the challenge of developing a design that did not rely on these ribs and that could fully display the aesthetics of a thin concrete shell.  Candela’s design expanded the role of reinforced concrete in buildings by integrating its structural properties with complex geometric forms to create elegant structures.

More Info: [1],[2]

Written by Charles Lander

October 9, 1996 at 4:51 pm

1959: Sydney Opera House – Sydney, Australia

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Image Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

Innovation: Sydney Opera House
Location: Sydney, Australia
Year: 1959
Architect: Jorn Utzon
Structural Engineer: Ronald Jenkins with Ove Arup and Partners
Construction Managers: Civil & Civic

Since the Sydney Opera House was completed in 1973, it has become one of the twentieth centuries most distinctive buildings, earning Utzon the Pritzker Prize in 2003. The distinctive silhouette of the building was Utzon’s interpretation of sailboats over the water and was therefore originally designed as a composition of many unrelated shapes. However, it was soon realized that building individual casts for each concrete shell would be extremely expensive, so the design team was forced to come up with a more economical solution. After a period of uncertainty, Utzon came up with the idea of giving each shell the same curvature, meaning that the dimensions of each large shell had to be derived from the same circle. This method would require only one mold for all of the panels. These panels could then be manipulated by adjusting their angles to accomodate the design. Once this decision was made, 2400 precast ribs (used to support the roof) and 4000 roof panels came together with the help of an innovative adjustable steel truss system to form the iconic roofline[1].

The solution to the roof challenge probably would not have been found if this team hadn’t propositioned the use of a computer for one of the first times in the field of structural engineering. They also designed a very complex glass curtain wall and achieved huge spans by designing intricate beams that changed their cross-sectional shape along their length[2].

More about design principles
More about structural ingenuity
More about the glass facade

Written by Emily Lamon

October 8, 1959 at 4:38 pm

1958: Los Manantiales Restaurant – Xochimilco, Mexico

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Image Sources: 1, 2, 3

Innovation: Los Manantiales Restaurant
Location: Xoxhimilco, Mexico
Year: 1958
Architect: Felix Candela
Structural Engineer: Felix Candela

Felix Candela has designed and built many thin shell concrete structures, but one of his most famous works is Los Manantiales Restaurant. Candela used his signature hyperbolic paraboloid geometry, which is a surface that is curved along two planes at once, to create a seamless concrete structure, which sometimes is as thin as only 1 inch. These concrete vaults are not made of precast concrete, but of concrete mixed and poured on the spot over a temporary wooden support structures with wire mesh interlacing the concrete for structural support. Candela utilized hyperbolic paraboloids frequently in his work because they create a geometrically complex yet symmetrical shape, and their formwork is so easy to build. By rotating pieces of wood around a central point and cyclically undulating the far end up and down, you can create this shape.

The structural engineering that Candela did for this building was very complex. The groins between each parabola conceal a steel-reinforced V-beam, which lends the shell of the structure to be called a groin vault. This V-beam is designed to address temperature effects within the concrete to keep cracks from forming and propagating, not to add additional structural support[1].  `

More about hyperbolic paraboloids
More about the structural engineering and design

Written by Emily Lamon

October 9, 1958 at 3:23 pm

1951: Cosmic Rays Pavilion – Mexico City, Mexico

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Innovation: thin-shell concrete used for complex designs
Location: Ciudad Universitaria, Mexico City, Mexico
Year: 1951
By: Felix Candela

Felix Candela was instrumental in the development of reinforced concrete thin-shell structures. He explored the potential of reinforced concrete, which works extremely well in dome or shell shapes due to the elimination of tensile forces. Furthermore, Candela worked as not only an architect but also engineer and builder, and helped to define Mexican architecture [1].

The Cosmic Rays Pavilion was a project given by the Mexican government and has become a prestigious icon in the city. Its concept is based on the shape of a hyperbolic paraboloid. To achieve stiffness, strength, and stability, Candela employed a double-curved roof rather than a cylindrical one, working with Jorge Conzález Reyna. In addition, the Pavilion is extremely thin, with the thickest part of the cast at 5/8 in. The outside vertical walls are in a corrugated configuration and supported by three arches into the foundation. It is not only a highly technical structure, but also aesthetically simplistic [2].

Web links: 1, 2, 3

Written by Marilyn Newberry

October 4, 1951 at 9:45 pm

1951: Skylon Tower – London, England

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Image Source: [1, 2, 3]

Innovation: Tensegrity Structure
Location: London, England
Year: 1951
By: Hidalgo Moya, Philip Powell, and Felix Samuely

Tensegrity, a term coined by R. Buckminster Fuller as the combination of tensional integrity, is conceptually seen with the Skylon Tower (upper left). By definition, all members are in either uniaxial compression or tension, and no bending moment. The steel spire therefore appeared to be “floating compression,” a term used by Kenneth Snelson [1].

The tower was made of six cables, three rods, and a large steel piece. The steel piece was vertical, with three cables at the top and three on the bottom. Each top cable paired with a bottom cable to attach to a rod, which held the structure to the ground. The result was a futuristic piece that appeared to float in the air, though it was in fact stable.

The Skylon Tower was designed by Hidalgo Moya and Philip Powell and made structurally possible by Felix Samuely. It was made to be a “Vertical Feature” at the1951 Festival of Britain, and was deconstructed in 1952. Once completed, the base was 15 m (50 ft) from the ground and the top about 90 m (300 ft) high. Structures similar to the Skylon Tower include Snelson’s  Needle Tower in Washington, DC, 1968 (upper right) and the Kurilpa Bridge in Australia, 2009 (lower) [2].

Web Links: 1, 2, 3

Written by Marilyn Newberry

October 4, 1951 at 9:13 pm