Material Systems/Structural Geometry: America¿s Cup, San Francisco

The proliferation of architectural design focused on building form defined by modulated systems suggests the importance of finding evermore sophisticated modes of translation between material and building scales. This studio aims to construct a hybrid methodology whereby material/structure becomes the synthesizing force that binds surface, space, form and program. Early and mid twentieth century experiments by architect/engineers such as Frei Otto, Felix Candela, Eduardo Catalano, etc. focused on form-finding to achieve structurally optimized building geometries where structure acts as an imperative that connects building material with form. Arches, vaults, domes, thin shells, tensile membranes, cable nets and the like intricately unite material with surface structure. Today, in contrast to such structurally pure models, computation has opened possibilities for intentionally blurring formal, structural and material performance. OMA\’s CCTV or Foster Partners??? Smithsonian roof addition are examples. These projects are characterized by non-optimized structural form registering their impacts with a deviated tectonic and geometrical system. The studio project will be to design the new America\’s Cup facilities, including the main pavilion, superyacht center, marina and viewing spaces, sited on the piers of San Francisco\’s downtown waterfront. San Francisco is currently the frontrunner to host the 2013 America\’s Cup sailing regatta at the discretion of Oracle/BMW racing, the 2010 winning team from San Francisco. The oldest trophy event in international sport, America\’s Cup racing is driven by state-of-the-art sailing technology and design. The site the city has allocated for this significant architectural project is along the bayside edge of the city near other prominent public venues and infrastructure such as the Bay Bridge, Ferry Terminal and SF Giants Stadium. As such, the design will not only consider the program of the America\’s Cup, but also what it means to build a new leisure and event space in this former working port, currently an urban waterfront landscape in transition. The design research conducted here will not explicitly pursue a tectonic agenda, but rather attempt to achieve a synthetic outcome by negotiating a structural skin system\’s ability to adapt and transform in relation to material assembly, geometry and form, environment and space, program and site. The course will begin with research into structural typologies such as those listed above and also including lamella trusses, space trusses, catenaries, minimal surfaces, hypars, folded plate, tensegrity, cantilevered columns, etc. Additional references will include the wealth of contemporary installation-scaled investigations that suggest possible alliances among form and material that have yet to be fully explored at building scale. The question will be how to adapt these models for larger scale, programmatic, and \”less pure\” geometric conditions. Students will also question the conceptual, functional, spatial and atmospheric potential of creating such a material/structural system. Students entering the studio need not be experts in structures, but must be willing to gain an intuitive understanding of them through computational and physical modeling. Fluency in digital modeling as well as scripting (Grasshopper, Rhinoscripting or other) is desirable.Studio schedule when the instructors will be in residence:February 1, 2 (Iwamoto/Scott)February 15, 16 (Iwamoto/Scott)March 1, 2 (Iwamoto)March 8, 9 (Scott)March 22, 23 (Iwamoto/Scott)April 5, 6 (Scott)April 19, 20 (Iwamoto)Final Review Date TBD