Monday, November 20, 2017

Texas Architecture (Duh!)

A lot of prairie and four cities

Texas is fortunate to have a lot of great architecture. The amazing courthouses in so many small towns, railroad stations and market towns, the missions built by the Spanish and Mexican settlers, the pueblos and ranches, the barns, dogtrot houses, plantation houses of the countryside, the industrial landmarks of refineries and warehouses, are all part of the texture of the state. But most visitors are likely to spend their time in four cities: Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin. I have put together a list of some of the sites worth visiting and located them on Google maps to encourage aficionados of architecture to visit.


The largest city in Texas and fourth largest in the US, Houston is often maligned or overlooked. In between sampling the great southern food, cajun food, Asian food, Italian food, Mexican food, and Tex Mex food, check out architecture by Renzo Piano, Mies van der Rohe, Philip Johnson, Rafael Moneo, Lake | Flato and many other star architects. Or see the funkty folk architecture, such as the Beer Can House or the Orange Show. On my wish list is the Cistern.
Check out the Houston Landmarks Map.

Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex

Houston is great and easy to visit, but every time I make this list, the Metroplex wins. Dallas has long been devoted to having the best contemporary architects in the world build masterpieces. The Arts District solves the problem of an overcrowded freeway that destroys a downtown -- go over it with a public plaza. Facing the plaza are building s by I.M. Pei, Rem Koolhass, Foster. Nearby are signature buildings by Thom Mayne, Renzo Piano and others. Architecture offices abound in downtown.
The suburbs have some great works too. I confess that I have not yet been to Meier's Rafchofsky House. Next spring ....
Fort Worth has some gems too. The Water Gardens and the Japanese Gardens are personal favorites. The Marty Leonard Chapel by Fay Jones. is certainly worth seeing. 
The map is listed as Dallas Landmarks.


I don't know Austin well enough, but I have some favorites that aren't music venues, bars, or restaurants. The UT campus has some gems by Cass Gilbert. Downtown has grown spetacularly, as has east Austin. 
I will take suggestions, but my favorites are on Austin Landmarks.

San Antonio

San Antonio is the old city of Texas and the origin of historic preservation in the state. The missions, the Villita, the Alamo, and the well-preserved downtown are enhanced by the River Walk, a masterpiece of reimagining a city to be beautiful. The Museum of Art, and the Witte Museum are examples of thoughtful and high quality projects characteristic of the architectural community of the city. One my wish list is the Government Canyon Visitors Center on state parkland west of town. 
Pick your destinations at the San Antonio Landmarks map. 


I gave this lecture twice today to students at Texas A&M, with tips on how to be an architectural tourist. Attached are a PDF file and PPT file

Monday, March 13, 2017

University of Florida Workshop on Parametric Surface Fabrication

Designing and constructing curved surfaces for architecture relies on parametric modeling and decomposition of the surface into constructable components. This workshop uses a combination of tactile and digital methods to convey lessons of defining a curved surface, converting it to facets, designing connectors, fabricating and accounting for tolerances for assemblies, and exploring other forms.

Steps are:

  1. Assemble a model with Joker toy.
  2. Construct a digital model of the Joker toy assembly.
  3. Examine and modify the digital components in the Joker toy.
  4. Extract parts lists, laser cut sheets, and 3D print files.
  5. Explore other form-making strategies
    1. Blended sweeps
    2. Nodes and orientation
    3. Adaptive components
      1. Sweeps
      2. Dimensionless rigging
    4. Divided lines and ruled surface
      1. Catenary
    5. Striated and waffle surface
    6. Patterned surfaces: Bricks
    7. Patterned surfaces: Shingles
    8. Patterned surfaces: Facets
      1. Extrusions
      2. Tolerances
      3. Chamfering
    9. Patterned surfaces: Smooth surfaces
    10. Deformed surfaces with attractors, reactors, and iterators
      1. Weaves
      2. Waves
      3. Gravity
  6. Make something!