Monday, April 16, 2012

Material Process Product

Lemons to Lemonade

You may have read an earlier blog about our fascination with ordinary materials in particular, concrete block. Recently, we encountered an unexpected design opportunity on the Scandlon Gym Addition Spillman Farmer is doing for Kings College in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
We are using ordinary unpainted concrete block as the interior finish for the Recreation Center. We decided to course the block in a running stack bond and further accentuate the coursing with raked and flush joints. The overall pattern is evocative of a natural slate wall and provides interesting human scale to a utilitarian wall.

Our team understood that the unfinished block would vary slightly in color and anticipated that this would add a subtle richness to the overall wall composition. What we did not anticipate however, was that the structural bond beam component to the wall would vary greatly in color from the field block. Unlike the field block, the bond beam block was manufactured during a different time of year and used a lighter aggregate harvested from a different quarry. The coursing of the bond beam was not carefully considered and we needed to do so quickly as the masons were beginning to lay the walls up.

A far cry from applied ornament, this distinctive patterning now begins to describe the building's structure to its users. Stay tuned for the finished product.

Excerpt from Mike Metzger - check out the excitement;
"We were presented with two options:  1.  Paint the block - certainly the simplest, would have cost a little more, but would have been consistent and safe on the interior … or 2. Develop a way to incorporate the varying colors in a logical way and locate them to create a strong composition. We decided to articulate this unexpected nuance by carefully considering the structural course within the wall. The required bond beams were stacked in keeping with the coursing pattern and then organized in a striated pattern within the wall. Not the simplest, certainly a bit riskier, but we felt strongly about keeping the block exposed, so we took a bit of time and worked out with the masons, a pattern that has some variation and some order.  The full composition will be better than what we had originally planned for.  It is going to give another layer of dimension, and add some movement to the space"!

"We are lucky to be working with Caretti Masonry and these guys are doing a fantastic job and really are putting care into their work.  Can't say enough good things about them.  I've been speaking with their foreman and believe me when I tell you that he is very concerned with his work and making something really great.  He noted that the double stack doesn’t really take any longer to set and that they're in a rhythm with the coursing and are moving.  And he likes it!!!  Which tells me that he's not just laying block out there, but he's taking the time to get invested in the project and has buy in.  Can't ask for more"!!! 

"we're taking common inexpensive materials that sometimes get overlooked, and exploiting their possibilities by using them in uncommon ways.  Not high cost, definitely high impact".
Couldn't have said it better Mike! Stay tuned for the finished product.

Living in the Brownfield - Industrial Architecture

"80 feet shy of a mile if you walk the perimeter of the structure" was the last thing I remember hearing as we approached the site at Lehigh Valley Industrial Park VII (LVIP-7).  

East View - short side of structure, panel erection to the far right rear.
Last week we got to head out to the field to observe and research the techniques of concrete construction, an ongoing study that we've been conducting at Spillman. 

East View - concrete panel pour at slab edge.
We'd like to give special thanks to the teams at Allied Construction and for allowing us to come and see their teams in action.

South View - long side of the structure with one mile perimeter.

North View - Concrete panel pour at slab edge.
We'll be doing a further update on the material, process and product section about the potentials that we see available in the exploitation of this type of construction system - stay tuned and if you visit make sure you're wearing comfortable boots!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

SFA News - AIA PA Award for ArtsQuest Center at Steelstacks

Spillman Farmer Architects is pleased to announce that American Institute of Architects (AIA) Pennsylvania has awarded a Silver Medal, the organization's highest honor, to Spillman Farmer Architects for their outstanding design of the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks. 

The Center is a dynamic performing arts, media, and cultural center located on the landmark Bethlehem Steel site in eastern Pennsylvania. The Center lies at the foot of the abandoned Bethlehem Steel blast furnaces, 200-foot industrial ruins that tower above the country's largest privately-owned brownfield. The project represents a new type of hybrid building for the arts. The building is an anchor for the revitalization effort in the City of Bethlehem, transforming a once-abandoned historic industrial core into a dynamic, sustainable, and livable mixed-use community.

AIA jurors praised the project saying, "The design captures the energy and utilitarian beauty that the best of the industrial revolution once offered. At the same time it demonstrates the power that a truly successful marriage of architecture and program can exert in bringing new purpose and hope to the most abandoned parts of our community."

Spillman Farmer Design Principal Joseph N. Biondo responded, saying, "The architecture of the ArtsQuest Center is influenced by its industrial site. It embraces our region and its culture, recognizing the material and human spirit that fueled the industry of this country. It is an honor to be recognized by the AIA for our dedication to craft and human-centered design." Biondo continued, "As a firm, we see this project as an expression of structure, material, and site." The building is wrapped with locally-manufactured pre-cast concrete panels, which are mounted with their rough, hand-screed surface facing outward.  The Center's panels celebrate both the process and the people that produced them, by revealing the marks of their production.  Inserted within this structural concrete strongbox is a skeletal steel frame that honors the site's steelmaking history.  The skeleton is finished in International Orange, an iconic color borrowed from many of Bethlehem Steel's most recognizable fabrication projects, including the Golden Gate Bridge.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Living in the Brownfield - Touchstone Theatre

Touchstone’s involvement with the Historic Bethlehem Partnership’s commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War continues with a year-long project examining who we are, what unites us, and what makes us Americans. Last season Touchstone inaugurated the commemoration with The Whitman Piece, this year we close it with A Resting Place, an original community-based play written by Alison Carey (playwright of Touchstone’s acclaimed Steelbound). The play and auxiliary events draw on the stories of individuals who lived and died in Bethlehem during the years of the War Between the States.

Friday April 13

Performance of A Resting Place
6pm Moravian College Priscilla Payne Hurd Patio

Panel discussion How the War Affects Us Today
7:45pm  Moravian College Haupert Union building.

 Miss Abigail Gillespie in rehearsal as the Irish Soldier, Aiden, the secret female fighter

Saturday April 14

Performance of A Resting Place:
1pm south Bethlehem Greenway 300 block

Panel discussion: "Building Community Through Theatre"
2:45pm held inside Touchstone Theatre

Performance of A Resting Place
6pm Lehigh University outside Packer Chapel

God’s Acre was where A Resting Place began. Where members of the Touchstone Ensemble came to say words on Veterans Day before James Peifer’s grave, promising the good faith of their efforts. In late twilight we began. 

Sunday April 15

Performance A Resting Place
1pm Bethlehem City Hall Plaza

Panel discussion "Bethlehem's Civil War History"
2:45pm Bethlehem Gemeinhaus

Performance: A Resting Place
6pm Colonial Industrial Quarter

Guest lecture: David Kincaid
7:45pm Central Moravian Church Old Chapel