Jin Young Song

University at Buffalo & Dioinno Architecture PLLC

SIMS (Snap-Interlock Module System)

In 1953, Konrad Wachsmann imagined a single, universal structural element which, if mass produced, could be used in building construction for every conceivable purpose. More than 60 years after his notion of a modular, coordination-based system, building structures are still based on the Dom-ino system (1914), or steel-based post and beam system, with conventional bolt/weld connection. Even after significant development in digital and manufacturing technologies, we are currently adding new subcomponents to this primary building system. Current smart fabrication techniques, with advanced digital design tools, allow us to revisit Wachsmann’s holistic approach for a unit-based ‘part to whole’ system.

SIMS (Snap-Interlock Module System) is a structural module prototype based on the elastic instability of steel, distributing forces through its unique stacked and interlocked configuration. One module has four hooked legs on the top and bottom and snaps into four legs from four adjacent modules. The five modules are interlocked as one unit, where individual steel modules are braced with each other. Finite element analysis shows the elastic nature of the steel modules and confirms structural integrity for building scale. The module can be industrially produced as cast or cut assemblies, while the internal opening and thickness of the module can be adjusted to provide the strength and stiffness. A middle part of the module can be modified to allow specified angles and form a curved geometry.

The snap-interlock stacking is easily executed by a single worker. Two arch-shaped prototypes have been built, using 3D printed modules, that exhibit how the system can achieve limited geometric freedom. Further structural analysis, and new interpretation, will be necessary to demonstrate how this ‘part to whole’ system can be applied to the building structure, facade, substructure, architectural partition walls, and more.

Project Architect: Jin Young Song

Fabrication Manager: Dan Vrana

Structure Analysis: Jongmin Shim, Xiangdong He

Student Researcher: Michael Gac

Structure Consultant: Bonghwan Kim

Jingyu Lee

Magnusson Klemencic Associates

Reimagined Office Tower Using Cantilevered Trusses

The demand for office space is at an all-time high. According to the commercial real estate development association, NAIOP, there has been an 11 percent increase in the number of commercial office buildings in urban sites and a 14 percent increase in floor space since 2010. Building an office high-rise in an urban site, however, has many challenges. For example, architects need to address how to bring in more daylight and create a welcoming public space on the ground floor. Additionally, owners want to increase outside views and create premium, high-yield rental space. Finally, fabricators and contractors must consider how to increase construction speed using less material.

These challenges inspired the concept of the “cantilevered truss frame”- a visionary modular construction system that creates column-free, rapidly constructed, premium office space in an urban site. The cantilevered truss frame is a simple Pratt truss with a 13 foot depth and a 38 foot cantilever. The depth to length ratio is well below the typical 1:3 ratio. This creates an unobstructed view with no columns at the perimeter of the building. Every other floor is also set back 14 feet, introducing a double height space that brings more natural light to the interior.

The cantilevered truss frame and the steel plate core are pre-fabricated at an off-site fabrication shop. Because the truss and core are made of steel, the construction time is significantly less compared to a traditional concrete core system where one must wait for the concrete to cure. This results in lower construction costs and more rental income for the owners.

Since there are no perimeter columns, the ground floor becomes column-free. This means fewer total construction materials, with less steel column tonnage, and no need for extra concrete footings. At the same time, this system creates the opportunity for both public and landscaped areas in an urban site.

Valeria Rybyakova

Perkins Eastman

Responsive Enclosure for Public Pool

Project Form-X speculates on the phenomena of a new generation of self-organized, responsive structures that will revolutionize the way we perceive our built environment, as well as change our design and construction methods.

Form-X investigates an innovative structure with the ability to handle various scales and address environmental challenges, making it applicable to a wide range of building typologies.

An abstraction from any specific condition reinforces a system need in self-sufficiency and sensitivity to any environmental change. Form-X mimics a bio-system and adopts similar principles of functioning.

Form-X is a system that represents a multi-layered mesh with a sensitive upper layer that protects buildings in the same way a skin with feathers protects a body. An extreme condition triggers a protective mechanism to spread feathers for an increase in layer depth, and creates a buffer with a microclimate inside. To allow a response for variation in depth, Form-X uses principles of deployable tensegrity. A grid of dynamic metal needles interconnected by metal cables sits on a fixed metal grid. These cables control the rotation of the needles. An environmental sensor, integrated into each needle, allows the system to detect the level of solar activity and calculate an optimal angle of rotation, providing an appropriately sized aperture between the shades attached to the needles.

Although the project mainly focuses on developing universal structures for an unknown building shape, further implementation of the designed system will generate conversation and initiate a process of constant design exploration. The system, in this case, is tested as an enclosure for the High Bridge Recreation Center swimming pool in Upper Manhattan. This site is historically known as the original location of the city’s water reservoir, which was later replaced under Robert Moses’s program to accommodate a public bathhouse.

Opened in 1936, the bathhouse is still in use and has two outdoor swimming pools, one Olympic and one Wading, with a total capacity of 4,800 people. While attracting many visitors, the outdoor pools are only in seasonal use. Extending their operating times would be a logical step to improve the quality of the pool services for the community. Form-X ultimately addresses the challenge of creating long-term, enclosed structures for pools, sized 220′ x 162′ x 10.5′ and 220′ x 92′ x 2′, that can accommodate various climate changes.

Project Architect: Valeria Rybyakova

Advisor: Holger Schulze-Ehring