Exalted Structure

Building Science + Technology

Fall 2012

Zak Kostura, instructor

This class was not just about cathedrals. But in cathedrals, we often find pure harmony between structure and aesthetic, where the structure itself is expressed in a way that adds spatial tension and heightens the experience of its occupants. We see this in the thin concrete shells of Felix Candela, the cast iron bridges of Thomas Telford, the sweeping fabric roofs of Jorg Schlaich and the hyperboloid towers of Vladimir Shukhov.

The implementation of such structure requires intimate knowledge of the principles and precedents of the assembly, as well as the unique construction considerations and analytical techniques used to validate its performance. An analysis of these aspects will confirm that these assemblies exist not only because of their compelling form, but also as a result of the ability of early designers to prove that they could be built using conventional construction techniques at a reasonable cost and perform adequately throughout their useful lifetimes, despite their unique and unusual configurations.

Students gained a holistic understanding of these essential characteristics through group-based research and design projects. Groups selected an existing assembly which they later explored through four class modules: principles and precedents, analysis, construction and innovation. Each group prepared and delivered a presentation for the class at the end of each module.

Jenny Ratner, Alison Lugrin, Bless Yee + Katie Stokien A/B
Paola Echegaray, Alexandra Milo, Yvonne-Demitra Konstantinidis + Ioannis Vossos C