University of Michigan Architecture Program
Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning


The design of Cloud / Bank has emerged from a series of details collected into an uneasy yet coherent whole. Our goal is to embody and communicate the historic legacy of the distributed networks of design and fabrication of both industry and agriculture in the Great Lakes / Midwest Region, as well as their current and latent potential.


Mick Kennedy


Bob Allsop, Sophie Anstreicher, Scott Chriss, Chiao-Chun Chung, Julia Dallas, Kelly Gregory, Karl Heckman, Rachael Henry, Troy Huckendubler, Onur Kamburoglu, Panquat Kyesmu, Jenny Lee, Sarah Munchow, Kelsey Reynolds, Dan Smith, Tyler Whitney, Paco Wu, Shujie Xie, Jon Yates, and Yunsen Zhong

Fabrication Sponsor

UM Stamps School of Art + Design
Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning: Sharon Haar


Central Middle School, 2007
Ralph Johnson of Perkins + Will
725 7th Street

Built 40 years apart, Lincoln Elementary School by Gunnar Birkerts in 1967 and Central Middle School by Perkins and Will built in 2007 share the same site: a large block that extends east along Fifth Street from Pearl to Chestnut Streets and north towards Eighth Street. Far more than cozy neighbors, these buildings also refer to prior buildings and sites. Whereas the simple, sunken geometric plan of Lincoln Elementary evokes the clear organization of Saarinen’s Irwin Conference Center, Central Middle School departs from glass-box corporate modernism in similar ways as does Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo Associates’ Cummins Corporate Office Building.

Material and Fabrication

Robotoidal bent steel rod "clouds" and bundled steel-tube corn columns. Dichroic silver linings within clouds. Steel, slip-cast ceramic and upholstered porcine seating.

The fabrication process was central to the design of Cloud / Bank. To replicate real-world methods of distributed production, students acted as “sub-contractors” dedicated to a specific tool or technique in the University of Michigan’s fabrication shop. Each element was fabricated from a digital model, and then the assembly process required a second phase of design to create jigs and forms to fit the elements together. In contrast with these precisely controlled fabrication techniques, the fish that swim through the steel-tubing clouds were cast in ceramic and glazed, a less predictable process that introduced individuality. Each of the fabrication processes used in the superstructure also appears in microcosm in the whimsical pig-shaped benches. The new skills students learned in the shop came in handy during installation: A student quickly mastered the boom lift to raise the finished structure on site, thanks to her experience using industrial robots to bend steel tubes into complex shapes.