Archinect - Tangential Fabrications 2017-09-26T14:27:05-04:00 SummerBuild: Wrap-up Aaron Willette 2013-08-20T13:01:00-04:00 >2017-01-20T12:16:04-05:00 <p> The inaugural SummerBuild workshop has come to an end. Over the course of 13 days a group of 4 students got a crash-course in Rhino/Grasshopper; evaluated <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">a demanding site</a>; crafted a response to said site with their newly acquired computer skills; and prototyped, fabricated, and installed that response with a very basic set of tools. The physical artifact says volumes about the success of the workshop, so I'll leave the talking to one of the photos taken on opening night:<br><br><img alt="" src="" title=""></p> <p> I sat down this evening with the intent of writing something about the workshop and surprisingly find myself at a loss for words. However, looking through these images and thinking back about the workshop as a whole, I'm overwhelmed with a feeling of pride. Not regarding myself and collaborators for pulling off the workshop (although we are admittedly pretty happy about that), but rather for what the students were able to achieve in such a short amount of time. I've worked on several installations over the past...</p> SummerBuild: (Another) Design Build Workshop Aaron Willette 2013-07-29T17:20:00-04:00 >2013-08-06T19:03:51-04:00 <p> Ever since I participated in Ghost Lab back in '08, my business partner Rob Trumbour and I have wanted to do something similar in Massachusetts. At the time the current workshop trend was just starting to emerge so the format was novel, and he and I both felt there was value in taking participants through a quick yet intense project experience. Every year there was the inevitable conversation of if this was the year we finally did it, and every year we would attempt to get all the components in place to make it happen. After a successful year of writing we decided we needed to do something more physical - soon thereafter&nbsp;<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">SummerBuild</a> was born.</p> <p> To make a long story short, SummerBuild will be a two-week computation/design/build workshop in scenic <a href=",_Massachusetts" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Rockport, MA</a>. Interest in the work shop was minimal, and while admittedly disappointing its probably ideal for our inaugural effort. The small number of students has allowed us to be nimble on the planning side of things, letting us to mak...</p> Fabricated at Michigan: Helix Aaron Willette 2013-07-13T14:33:00-04:00 >2013-11-06T15:00:48-05:00 <p> Another project from <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Brandon Clifford</a> and <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Wes McGee</a> of <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Matter Design</a>,&nbsp;<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Helix</a> was&nbsp;designed and fabricated for the <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">BSA Space</a> and <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">pinkcomma</a>'s 2013 <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Design Biennial Boston exhibit</a>.&nbsp;The half-scale precast concrete stair stems from the interest in stereotomy that has informed the duo's earlier works such as&nbsp;<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">La Vo&ucirc;te de LeFevre</a>.&nbsp;For simplicity's sake&nbsp;I'm going to default to the project's official text&nbsp;for a basic description:</p> <p> <em>"... the piece&nbsp;celebrates&nbsp;its imprac&shy;ti&shy;cal&shy;ity. It is both col&shy;umn and stair, yet hangs from the ceil&shy;ing. Its uncer&shy;tainty and changed scale inject play&shy;ful char&shy;ac&shy;ter&shy;is&shy;tics into the sur&shy;round&shy;ing space, while main&shy;tain&shy;ing an alle&shy;giance to the past and known..</em><em>. The solid, heavy, and vol&shy;u&shy;met&shy;ric action of cast&shy;ing con&shy;crete trans&shy;forms a liq&shy;uid mat&shy;ter into a solid mass that wants to crack. The stair&rsquo;s rounded, plas&shy;tic, and cur&shy;va&shy;ceous treads reflect the material&rsquo;s ear&shy;lier liq&shy;uid state. Its twist&shy;ing accel&shy;er&shy;ates as it wraps around the sup&shy;port col&shy;umn...</em></p> Apologies, robots, and slow panning shots... Aaron Willette 2013-07-08T12:03:00-04:00 >2013-07-15T22:00:27-04:00 <p> So its been a bit since I've upheld my bloggerly duties due to the typically student excuses: academic deadlines, not sleeping, etc. But as of a week ago that's all done with and I'm done with my time as a student here at the University of Michigan. I won't be going too far though as working as a research assistant in the FABLab paid off: a couple months back I was hired as the coordinator for the lab. I'll be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the lab and forwarding its research trajectories - similar to what I was doing as a GSRA, but different enough to make it interesting. Staying at Michigan wasn't something I had planned on doing, but after the lab's expansion (more on this later) it was hard to argue against some more time on the shop floor. I'll try to discuss what's happening in the FABLab as, in my opinion, its one of the more interesting place in the school/building/campus. Plus now that I have the time I want to go back to some interviews I had started workin...</p> Shop Talk : Tavs Jørgensen Aaron Willette 2012-10-07T23:59:00-04:00 >2012-10-15T22:57:08-04:00 <p> <em>The second interview that I'll be sharing from my research into craftsmanship and digital fabrication took place with <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Tavs J&oslash;gensen</a>, a permanent research fellow in the <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Autonomatic Group at University College Falmouth</a> and visiting tutor for the <a href=";GroupID=159434" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Royal College of Art's Ceramics &amp; Glass</a> course. Tavs and I have been communicating sporadically for almost a year now and I'm humbled to be given the chance to expose his work to an audience that is likely unaware of what he and his colleagues in the Autonomatic Group are doing.</em></p> <p> <em>Tavs and I were put in touch with one another by <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">John Marshall</a>, a faculty member here at the University of Michigan that I was lucky enough to discuss my academic interests with early in the fall 2011 semester. John is incredibly&nbsp;knowledgeable&nbsp;of any research (past or present) dealing with "digital making" &nbsp;and quickly&nbsp;pointed me towards the Autonomatic Group as a body of work I needed to be familiar with. Much to my surprise a week later I received an email from J...</em></p> A Glass Menagerie Aaron Willette 2012-09-21T00:33:00-04:00 >2012-10-09T14:30:33-04:00 <p> I've been really shocked at the positive response I've received to the interview with Rives. It and its&nbsp;accompanying interviews were done more for my own need than anything else and I was unsure if anyone would even be interested in what was said. Clearly it was enjoyed&nbsp;and because of that I'm excited for the next installment in the series. I'll be working on a written piece for my good friends over at <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Big Red &amp; Shiny</a>&nbsp;in the coming weeks so I won't be able to get around to posting the second interview until&nbsp;that's&nbsp;wrapped. But I haven't forgotten about it and will be getting to it in early October before I head off to San Francisco for ACADIA.</p> <p> The BR&amp;S piece isn't the only thing keeping me busy, as things have been busy here in Ann Arbor for the past couple of weeks. The most notable happening is completing the design/fabrication/installation of&nbsp;Specimen, a project in <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Grand Rapids, Michigan</a>&nbsp;with Wes McGee and Catie Newell. A&nbsp;revisiting of <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">the installation we did for the Glass Ca...</a></p> Shop Talk : Rives Rash Aaron Willette 2012-08-31T22:23:00-04:00 >2012-09-10T10:26:38-04:00 <p> <em>As part of my research over the past year into the nature of craftsmanship in digital fabrication, I've done a handful of interviews with individuals engaging the topic in some manner. Ranging from craft researchers to fabricators, every conversation has yielded amazing insight not only into my own work, but also into how other fields are engaging the digital tools we have started to take for granted within certain circles of architecture. Rereading each text as began the format them for my research documentation, I began to feel it was wasteful to just bury them in the appendix and will be posting some of them here in the blog.</em></p> <p> <em>One such conversation occurred this past March with Rives Rash. I had met Rives a month earlier while assisting a friend with a workshop at the <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">University of Kentucky College of Design</a> where Rives teaches. Although that was the first time we talked, I had known of Rives by his reputation for a number of years as stories of a punk kid out in LA had made t...</em></p> Fabricated at Michigan: Pongo Aaron Willette 2012-08-20T18:40:00-04:00 >2012-11-04T20:16:22-05:00 <p> Another fabrication project from the back catalog here at the <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">UMich FABlab</a>. As with <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">La Vo&ucirc;te de LeFevre</a> this comes from Wes McGee and Brandon Clifford of <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Matter Design Studio</a>. <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Pongo</a> is a coat rack that, to me at least, clearly exhibits the strengths that each brings to their work and reminds me of the benefits of collaborations.&nbsp;Clifford's design/aesthetic approach is evident in its formal characteristics, but they share the stage with McGee's fabrication prowess which was necessary to make the project. Initially there was some back and forth between these two halves as each influenced the other and was a great process to witness.</p> <p> <img alt="" src="" title=""></p> <p> This was actually the first project I became involved with when I got to Michigan a year ago, filling a role that is best encapsulated as "production assistant." While far from glamorous, I learned a&nbsp;ridiculous&nbsp;amount of information about 5-axis milling and production tooling from being&nbsp;involved&nbsp;with this project. When I later had to jump onto the m...</p> Fabricated at Michigan: La Voûte de LeFevre Aaron Willette 2012-08-08T01:25:00-04:00 >2012-08-17T16:55:21-04:00 <p> As I mentioned previous, I'm going to try to get into some of the work thats been goes on here at the University of Michigan FABlab. Truth be told I probably spend more time at my desk in the lab than I do at my apartment, so I see a lot of project come through the doors. Not many people outside of the school (or sometimes outside of the lab) hear or see these projects so its become a pet project of mine to spread the word.</p> <p> Some of the work I first covered in the <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Research Through Making</a> post and my <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Distort Windows project page</a>&nbsp;are just some examples of what goes on here. In no way do I think that UMich is unique for this, as every school has fantastic work that doesn't garner much praise outside of its home court. But since I'm a fabrication junkie and so much of what I see is fabrication-based, I think its worth talking about. Plus who would want to read about my growing appreciation for <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">PPE</a>? Nobody.&nbsp;So with further ado... <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">La Vo&ucirc;te de LeFevre</a>.</p> <p> <img alt="" src="" title=""></p> <p> Alright, so if you're familia...</p> Long time no blog... Aaron Willette 2012-07-16T19:29:01-04:00 >2012-07-25T01:46:04-04:00 <p> I apologize for my horribly long absence. In the end my studies got the best of me and my time to be posting on here was limited. But in the coming days I'll be having some nice and meaty posts on a couple projects I was involved with. So while I dig through my photos and figure out which are worth seeing the light of day, you'll get an update on what to expect in the coming year.</p> <p> So I've opted to stay at the University of Michigan for another year, adding a concentration in <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Material Systems</a>&nbsp;to my Masters of Science in Architecture. Having just completed the school's <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Digital Technologies concentration</a>, the continuation seems like a logic choice as computation and fabrication increasingly attempt to tap into the inherent creative potential in material properties. As per usual, Michigan has some great faculty on tap to be leading the inaugural year of the program, including <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Kathy Velikov</a> and <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Geoffrey Thun</a>&nbsp;of <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">RVTR</a>; <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Catie Newell</a> of <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Alibi Studio</a> (who I've collaborated with on a numbe...</p> On Craftsmanship... Aaron Willette 2012-03-02T11:20:00-05:00 >2012-09-22T21:48:51-04:00 <p> The focus of my work at the <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">University of Michigan</a> deals with&nbsp;establishing&nbsp;a framework to identify and discuss "craftsmanship" within the subset of contemporary architecture that utilizes computation and digital&nbsp;fabrication. At the scale of the object/artifact there has been significant investigation into the topic - check out the work of the British research group&nbsp;<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Autonomatic</a>&nbsp;for some great examples. But, in my humble opinion, the discussion of CNC toolpaths and the like don't adequately approach the topic in a manner thats applicable to Architecture. So like any other overly-ambitious graduate student I've taken this up as the area of the profession I'm aiming to contribute to. I've been extremely lucky to have access to some amazing people at the school: <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Malcolm McCullough</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Wes McGee</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Karl Daubmann</a> and <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">John Marshall</a>&nbsp;amongst many others. I'm beyond excited with where my work has taken me this far - I'll let you know how it goes come July 1st when I've submitted my research docum...</p> Gazing Upwards at the Ivory Tower Aaron Willette 2012-01-31T02:45:02-05:00 >2012-02-05T16:34:56-05:00 <p> "The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery."&nbsp;-&nbsp;<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Mark Van Doren</a></p> <p> For reasons still unknown to myself, for the past 5+ years I have worked under the assumption that some sort of academic position would be part of my professional career. Prior to my return to student life I sat on more design reviews and thesis panels at Wentworth than I can recall and was able to co-teach a couple electives in elementary design computation/physical computing, experiences which only served to reinforce this desire. Additionally it has shaped a number of career choices I've made over the years, key amongst them the decision leave a steady, well-paying, productive staff assignment to pursue a Master's degree. And now as the end of my studies are in the foreseeable future I find myself preparing to apply for teaching position and fellowships, trying to locate my own personal interests within the larger academic discourse.</p> <p> This vital act of locating oneself has proven more difficult than in...</p> Whither Installation Symposium Part 4: Photos, etc... Aaron Willette 2012-01-24T06:57:00-05:00 >2012-02-16T02:12:46-05:00 <p> <img alt="" src="" title=""></p> <p> My apologies for the delay in this post. The 'final push' for Glass Cast (the Research Through Making project I was a collaborator on, shown above) started at the end of last year during the semester break; upon the project's completion for the exhibit this past weekend I realized that there were a number of things (academic and otherwise) I had fallen behind on, and have been attempting to catch up ever since.</p> <p> So being privileged with access to the space the installations are in, I went back earlier this evening to take some photos. A couple disclaimers:</p> <ul><li> The projects are lit horribly (or not at all) so the photos are few. Unfortunately Mary-Ann Ray and Robert Mangurian's piece is rather large <em>and</em> not lit at all, so I wasn't able to catch any good shots.</li> <li> I'm also about as far from a quality photographer as one can be, so the quality is 'meh' at best.</li> <li> I haven't received the 'live' photos back from my partner in crime at the symposium, so once I remember to harass hi...</li></ul> Whither Installation Symposium Part 3: The Symposium (live) Aaron Willette 2012-01-21T09:02:00-05:00 >2012-01-24T06:29:48-05:00 <p> After a great night of viewing some fantastic work, its time for the main event, the Whither Installation Symposium. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a strong showing of students or faculty for the event, but I have an odd feeling thats a combination of the 9am start, last night's snow, and the long-standing tradition at the school of "Michigan time". I'm going to enjoy my complimentary coffee and bagel but we'll starting shortly.</p> <p> 9:07am - People are starting to roll in, turns out Michigan time also applies to symposiums with guest lecturers. As a east coast guy the whole things still confuses me. The crowd is primarily faculty and presenters with a dash of students for good measure, but I guess thats part of the reason why I'm doing this.</p> <p> 9:10am - Introduction from John McMorrough. Standard "thank-yous" to all the individuals involved with the organizing. It seems like my earlier interview with him might have been a rough draft for the intro so its worth while going bac...</p> Whither Installation Symposium Part 2: Research Through Making Presentations (live) Aaron Willette 2012-01-20T17:47:00-05:00 >2012-01-24T06:29:27-05:00 <p> Good evening Archinect!</p> <p> Here comes the 2nd part of the 3-part <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Whither Installation Symposium</a> coverage from the University of Michigan. I'll do my best to keep my fingers up to speed with the presentations, but no promises. The presentations should be starting in about 15 minutes, so coverage will start then. I have a colleague (<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Prof. Rob Trumbour</a> from <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Wentworth Institute of Technology</a>) taking photos with me of both the presentations and tonight's gallery opening which I'll be adding later to this entry and including as a separate post.</p> <p> Lets do this thing....</p> <p> 6:06pm - Introductions from Monica Ponce de Leon discussing the history of the RTM grant program. She initiated it as a means to provide seed funding to faculty to pursue the creative process of making as a form of research. Its meant to give the faculty the latitude to explore the "messy area" that exists between established categories of architecture.&nbsp;</p> <p> 6:12pm - Catie Newell and Wes McGee are presenting "<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Glass Cast</a>" w...</p> Whither Installation Symposium Part 1: Interview with John McMorrough Aaron Willette 2012-01-20T17:01:00-05:00 >2012-10-08T01:23:23-04:00 <p> As mentioned in my previous post on the blog, I sat down with <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">John McMorrough</a>, Chair of the Architecture Program and Associate Professor of Architecture at the University of Michigan to briefly talk with him about this weekend's<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"> Research Through Making presentations</a> and&nbsp;<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Whither Installation Symposium</a> (both of which I'll be live blogging) . We intentionally focused on the "why" and "how" of the events rather then the content, but even within those constraints John gave some great insights into the nature of the installation format itself and the direction of the symposium.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <strong>Aaron Willette</strong> - I think it&rsquo;s clear that no one would or could really debate the validity of the topic at hand: obviously the use of the installation format in architecture is on an uptick, or is at least perceived as so. I&rsquo;m curious to the concept of timing: why is this a conversation we're having now? I&rsquo;m sure the polemics panel will touch on the topic, but I'd like to hear your point of view as someone o...</p> Whither... Aaron Willette 2012-01-18T02:18:00-05:00 >2012-01-21T20:14:25-05:00 <p> The use of installations within architecture seem to be on an uptick as of late. The design blogs we all know and love seem to have a continuous stream of&nbsp;commissions, competitions&nbsp;and student projects touting their viability as the latest hope for architectural experimentation in our current economic climate. Practices that began as architectural practices are transitioning into the art world and academic curriculum are adjusting to&nbsp;accommodate&nbsp;via new elective and studio formats.</p> <p> In no way is this a new medium for the field - I just payed little attention to them during my undergraduate studies. And although images of Brian MacKay-Lyon's Ghost 6, Zumthor's Swiss Pavilion and SHoP's Dunescape all hung on the sacred wall-space adjacent to my studio desk I didn't grasp the potential of the format. Perhaps it was because the school I attended didn't have a history of such project or the professors I worked wither were inexperienced in the matter or (most likely) I was just incapab...</p> Performance Anxiety Aaron Willette 2012-01-17T03:12:00-05:00 >2012-01-18T11:13:01-05:00 <p> The first blog post.&nbsp;As idealized in the mind of the individual behind the keyboard it is a function of area: a mandatory declaration of extents, laying forth the foundation of grandiose fortifications defining one's domain. In reality it is to sally, celebrating the initial conditions from which an intellectual and verbal d&eacute;rive springs forth. And with such thoughts in mind I'll drop the theoretical posturing and let you know why I've taken up this soapbox as to allow you to discern if I'm worth listening to.</p> <p> I've been on Archinect for a while. Not as long as some of the the more senior members, but long enough to say with a hint of pride that I remember when the website was in the business of pimping rather than connecting, the forums were anonymous and Israel K. was somehow involved in every discussion. At the time I was a student, and like to think that, like the site, I was just beginning to grapple with how I would find my place within the architectural establishment. By t...</p>