University of Kentucky
College of Design School of Architecture

Installation

Indelible Pattern(s) aspires to communicate with the history of Columbus while leveraging contemporary techniques, technologies, and processes. Regulating lines, forms, and landscape in the immediate context inscribe the geometry with a sense of place, while other organizational rules evade, obfuscate, or delay direct comprehension. Voids frame iconic towers beyond, while pattern and geometry subtly allude to other unforgettable objects.

Instructors

Martin Summers and David Biagi

Students

Nick Abend, Bryan Hardin, Drew McGurk, and Alexis Peneff

Fabrication Sponsors

Butch Branson
Tim Skinner

Site

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.

Materials and Fabrication

CNC-milled engineered wood volumes and deck, CNC-milled engineered wood "swarm" suspended from steel structure.

Students and instructors collaborated on a direct design process for Indelible Pattern(s), creating a digital model that incorporated fine-grained construction details, not merely a concept to be interpreted by fabricators. The team translated this digital model into cut files for CNC machines to mill the many unique layers that form the “swarm” of suspended elements and the surrounding volumes. The layered structure allows the intricately patterned volumes to appear alternately solid and transparent as viewers move around the installation to appreciate how the piece connects with Columbus and its environment. The main material is AdvanTech, a stable, weather-resistant engineered wood used for subflooring. The manufacturer’s stamps create serendipitous counterpoint with the complex patterns the team etched onto the panels, inspired by razzle-dazzle camouflage once painted on battleships. Nomi, an architecture, design, and fabrication firm run by a UK alumnus, generously provided shop time so students and instructors could bring this ambitious design-build project to fruition.

The significance of designing for Columbus guided our response, which is rooted in its context at multiple scales.