During a recent trip to the West Coast, Brian Cook, Amy Korte, and I visited the shop of Kreysler and Associates in American Canyon California. As a leader in the use of composite materials in construction, we have chosen to collaborate with K&A to accomplish the fluid forms designed for the signature soffit at Congress Square. K&A has innovated the use of fiber reinforced plastic and advanced manufacturing techniques to address complex construction challenges. As we toured the facility, we saw everything from gravity defying art installations (partnerships with Claes Oldenburg and Lawrence Argent) to a piece of the original model of the Death Star developed with Lucas Films and full-size mock up panels from Snohetta’s recent addition to SFMOMA.
Throughout the design process, we have focused on the soffit at the addition to 40 Water St as a focal point of the Congress Square development. Extensive research in materials and constructability led us to the use of composites as the choice that would allow us to fully realize our design vision. By choosing to collaborate with K&A early in the process, it allows us to better understand the fabrication process and make key design decisions that maintain the integrity of the original concept in an innovative, cost-effective way for our client.
Our team has been refining the design of the soffit using Rhino 3D software and 3D printing to visualize the final installation. Sharing these models, we can interface directly with K&A’s sophisticated fabrication equipment, including 6-axis CNC robotic routers, to realize complex geometries. As we learned during our site visit, finish options are nearly unlimited– from automotive finish smoothness to materials that look and feel like cast concrete. K&A demonstrated innovative techniques in developing the color as well. We discussed integration of various metal flake into the final finish matrix and saw translucent materials that allowed backlighting – all of these techniques provide durable, low maintenance finishes that will last over the life of the building. The use of composites provides a lightweight solution with nearly infinite flexibility – our challenge now is working to fine tune the enormous palette of options to execute our vision at Congress Square.