Soft Cast

Jung-Hyun An, Sergejs Aleksejevs, Robert Casasus, Joel Gallegos, Tam Lam, Ryan Manning, Albert Navarro, Tan Nguyen, Kimberly Ochoa, Berekat Petros, Vincent Ramirez, Grant Wickard

Spring Semester 2008

The Dallas Museum of Art invited community partners to contribute exhibitions to the Center for Creative Connections. Students and faculty from the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Arlington designed a wall that considers the meanings associated with materials used by architects to shape the spaces around us.

Materials are an essential aspect of how architectural designers convey meaning. Whether that meaning is strength and permanence or flexibility and impermanence, architects use materials to communicate ideas about the tactile world we live in.

Through digital modeling software and a computer controlled laser cutter, we constructed a wall where no two sections are the same and materials are easily formed in new ways. This method allows us to build with the same efficiencies as traditional methods but with unique and innovative outcomes. We seek to create a material quality that draws the viewer closer—to investigate and even to touch.

The exhibition was a defined by a 6-month planning process and a 4-month design and execution period. The exhibition served as a new prototype for active learning opportunities in museum exhibition and has been a model for many national and international museums seeking to emulate the success of the Dallas Museum of Art initiative. This project also offered a unique design and construction opportunity for students in the school of architecture. Client requirements, budgetary constraints, and installation sequencing all provided a rewarding learning environment and explored educational opportunities not typically found in seminar classes at the School of Architecture.

Students were challenged to leverage digital fabrication technology to accomplish the design, construction, and implementation of the installation piece. The piece was initially scheduled to remain up for 6 months, but due to institutional and public feedback the installation stayed up for 24 months.

144 unique tiles were formed using fabric and formwork that through the location of voids would allow for both rigid and smooth shapes to emerge. The tiles were defined by using a vornoi script to locate the openings in the formwork. The fabric formwork allowed for loose control to the concrete as it set. The tiles were mounted 2” off of the wall and with a ½” spacing. The wall behind the tiles was covered with lights and activated by sensors. When someone would approach the wall the lights would come on illuminating the negative space.