San Francisco's waterfront is lined with rows of historic warehouses — elegant vestiges of old-world industry (think tugboats and textiles). Living among these classic monuments to commerce is Autodesk's Pier 9 office — our digital fabrication workshop where computers and machines mix. In a collaborative effort to reimagine the waterfront as a crucial element of San Francisco's ecology, architecture students at California College of the Arts developed speculative proposals for a floating vessel that will both expand the Pier 9 workshop and create new possibilities for public engagement along the Embarcadero. Part response to rising ocean levels, part experiment on how waterfront development can actually enhance rather than damage marine habitats, Buoyant Ecologies beautifully blends environmental sensitivity and innovative fabrication technology in 6 stunning creations. And although we may never actually see these vessels built, we can imagine the tantalizing possibilities.
The groups involved in this project included:
- Autodesk // more
- California College of the Arts // more
- Students: Blake Stevenson, Dustin Tisdale
- Faculty advisers: Margaret Keda, Evan Jones, Adam Marcus
Some of the computer aided design applications played a part in the process include:
Imagine a floating office extension that rotates — providing passersby with a view of the future of making things.
The students' design is based on a vaulted system where multiple arches support peak spans. This increases the strength of the structure and eliminates an inherent weakness found in framed construction where slabs are stacked on columns.
Although this is not an homage to The Late Show with David Letterman skit, will it float? Actually, it will. The structure is made of a fiber-reinforced polymer that is fabricated and shaped using foam forms that mold the material into place as it cures. Custom routing by computer-controlled machines makes it possible to mass-customize molds to produce unique geometries.
Thanks to the Autodesk Gallery team for the content in this blog article.
Although Buoyant Ecologies is just a concept, the gallery itself is very real. The gallery is open to the public on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. There is a guided tour on Wednesdays at 12:30 pm. Admission is free. Though it's not available yet, we are working on a self-guided audio tour. I provided the narration for the Shanghai Tower Exhibit. When you listen to the recording while actually looking at the exhibit, it will all make perfect sense. Visit us.
Acting as a virtual ambassador is alive in the lab.