2X4: Reciprocal Frame Timber Structure

Nicholas Di Donato, Huiting Du, Charlotte Fuss, Nicolas Garcia, Jeong Su Han, Yuhao Huang, Hannah Kirkpatrick, Ho Kyung Lee, Meghan Owens, Hana Saifullah, Xingyue Sun, Kaylee Tucker

Studio description:
Timber construction is receiving renewed interest in the building industry. It is at an inflection point–widespread implementation, building code revisions, and innovations in fabrication are on the near horizon–and the developments of timber construction in the next decade will have an outsized impact on our built environment for years to come.  As a renewable plant-based material, wood captures carbon emissions that effectively reduce overall embodied carbon in new constructions and ultimately translates to reductions in global warming. This thesis section, a Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM) sponsored studio, focused on timber construction, with the aim of developing a built pavilion as part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial in 2021. The public programming for the pavilion has a social and educational mission, it is an outdoor classroom for our community partner, a southside Chicago Public School, Ray Elementary.

The work of the research and design is directed in how innovative timber fabrication and construction can have scalable impacts on the built environment. Over the course of the year, students have developed various methodologies to work through different phases of design and prototyping, testing design options based on fabrication and material constraints. The fall semester focused on exercises and computational design workshops to hone the foundational skills necessary to conduct work in the design studio in the winter term. Students work collaboratively in teams given the nature of the studio and are in-person for access to the tools from the FabLab for prototyping. This thesis course is linked with Prof. Wes McGee’s Advanced Robotics Seminar in the winter term. SOM engages with this thesis group throughout the year, linking professional practice support/consultation with academia through regular workshops and reviews.

Full project description can be found here.

Faculty Advisor: Tsz Yan Ng, Topology + timber