Text description provided by the architects. This project began with an interest in challenging the typical notion of the parking structure as an unappreciated infrastructural typology by transforming the new Eskenazi Hospital parking structure into a binary, synthetic terrain. The effect of a field of 7,000 angled metal panels in conjunction with an articulated east/west color strategy creates a dynamic façade system that offers observers a unique visual experience depending on their vantage point and the pace at which they are moving through the site. In this way, pedestrians and slow moving vehicles within close proximity to the hospital will experience a noticeable, dappled shift in color and transparency as they move across the hospital grounds, while motorists driving along W. Michigan Street will experience a faster, gradient color shift which changes depending on their direction of travel.
This project sought to explore parallels between techniques of two-dimensional image construction and the tectonic considerations present in the design and fabrication of building enclosure. Through rigorous examination of digital image manipulation and reproduction techniques, such as error diffusion, dithering, half-toning, and lossy-compression quantization a strategy for the articulation of complex arrangements of patterns and edges across a building façade was developed.
Our studio was commissioned to design and then implement the fabrication and installation in August, 2012. We developed the concept, which began initially as an idea stemming from active camouflage techniques, and then worked through the design development drawings. During that phase, material and structural considerations were worked though, and I located a local fabricator that handled the actual fabrication and installation of the project. It was then installed in May, 2014.
Camouflage was conceptually interesting initially, as the main purpose of the facade was to provide an intense visual screen for what is otherwise an ordinary parking structure. As the project progressed, the interest in camouflage evolved into an approach that would create a very large dynamic, interactive element for the City. Rather than an actively kinetic approach, with all of the inevitable maintenance and longevity concerns that accompany those types of project, we were instead working towards an approach that capitalizes on the fact that most viewers would be moving, themselves... either walking, biking, or in an automobile. Thus, the design ultimately became something that offers a degree a variability of color and form as one passes by the project. The awareness of this, interestingly enough, occurs whether someone is directly watching or even just seeing it out of their periphery of vision.
We worked on the design and built physical mock-ups in our studio for about 6 months. As you might imagine, software became hugely important, and we even had to write some software on our own to helps us create the final effect.
To facilitate the effect, a total of 18 different panels sizes/angles are used throughout. They range from 300mm tall x 600mm long to 300mm tall x 1m long. There approximately 7,000 of these panels. The color scheme is quite simple as the west side received a deep blue color, while the east side receives a golden yellow color. The angles, alone, create the illusion of different hues.
The project is primarily a large art piece. Secondarily, it does of course serve as a visual screen for a normal parking structure behind, masking the normal things one might see such as cars, concrete beams, columns, guardrails, etc. It was required that the piece allow for substantial ventilation, which as a requirement, naturally worked well with the concept anyway.