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07.28.2014
Grid Shell in the Park
UTSA student team designs a long-span, thin-shell pavilion for San Antonio.
Doug Fletcher

This summer, San Antonio’s Travis Park—a newly revitalized green space originally established as Travis Plaza in 1870—is playing host to an architectural installation by 14 graduate students from the UTSA College of Architecture. F2, as it is called, is a grid shell prototype that spans more than 50 feet with only 2 inches of material thickness. It evolved from a research project studying minimal surfaces, inflatables, branching, cellular structures, and centenaries.

   
 

F2 is made from 4,800 linear feet of ½-inch-by-2-inch spruce timber sections and 760 CNC cut Coroplast folded panels. The assembly is bolted together into a grid shell with more than 1,000 galvanized nuts and bolts and 2,600 washers. The footings are water jet cut from ½-inch steel plate, welded, and attached to 30-inch screw piles. It took two weeks to fabricate the individual parts and the graduate students installed it in five days with the help of 13 volunteers.

 
 

The project was designed and fabricated under the direction of Andrew Kudless, Director of Matsys and the 2014 Dean’s Distinguished Visiting Critic at UTSA, and Kevin McClellan, Co-Director at TEX-FAB and lecturer at UTSA. David Shook of SOM San Francisco provided structural design support during research and Datum Engineers did the final design engineering.

Aaron Seward