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19 December 2010

Peotone Rail Station

I was talking with a friend last night and realized I hadn't posted any renderings from my latest project - A high speed rail station in Peotone, IL. The first two images are just to give some context. The third is just a birds eye view, and the last is an interior shot of the stairs/ramp system.

All the renderings are done in the Maxwell plug-in for Rhino. There's still a lot more to post but I'm letting some of the renderings run for a day or two to clean up all the noise.

Preliminary orthographic drawings of the structural system - it's missing the cabling that runs from the base of the arches to the other side and instead has foundations.

Exploded axonometric drawing of the wooden parabolic arches with cabling.

I'll explain more of this later but basically the structural idea going on is that the canopy structure is 120' wide and 40' tall (1:3 ratio). The arches are parabolic and self supporting (angled to support one another) and are a closed system in that their ends are tied together with steel cable running underground. The arches themselves are glue-lams, which is engineered wood that resists bending, warping, etc. far better than solid timber. The glue-lams are 2' deep and 1' wide. The whole thing is covered by 7 ETFE (ETFE is a polymer developed by DuPont that has a tensile strength of 6,000 psi, weights 1% as much as glass, lets in more light than glass, is not made from oil, is completely recyclable, and is not affected by UV damage - sort of, the take-away is that as far as anyone can tell it has an indefinite lifespan) pillows which run about 320' long, 18' wide, and at their deepest are about 2' thick. They're kept inflated by a low pressure air compressor that uses about as much energy as a 40W light bulb. The ETFE is held by aluminum extrusions which are supported by steel cabling to prevent uplift and bending due to gravity. The arches are supported by brick and concrete steel reinforced piers... that's all for now.

16 December 2010


"We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living." - Buckminster Fuller, New York Magazine 1970

Fuller believed that work was largely obsolete - and by extension so were many full time jobs. His notion was rather that of projects. People would assemble for projects, bring their expertise, and disband when they were completed. Of course, this is how most architecture firms and how every construction site I've ever been to has operated. Interestingly though the trades embrace this and have a system for dealing with it whereas the (large) architecture firm must go through periods of cyclical hiring and firing. It's very similar to monogamy in our culture.

That is, humans tend to be slightly polygynous (men tend to have more than one wife/lover when they can afford it) but yet this is unacceptable to just come out and say. How do men get around this? By being serially monogamous - getting married and divorced repeatedly (women rarely do this especially when the marriage involves children). In much the same way many employers must go through the process of essentially pretending they want an employee for a long period of time. The reality is that this is untrue and both parties would be better off if both sides were honest and acted accordingly. I'd expect the work situation to change before male/female relations as monogamy tends to be in the best interest of men.

Fisher Studio Houses at 1209 N State Street in Chicago.

Bourdain on Choosing a Career

I read a lot - really disparate stuff. I have no idea how much of it I retain, but every now and then an article or book keeps reappearing in my ideas. This is one of them. It's Anthony Bourdain giving advice on whether or not someone should choose a career as a chef.

It's incredibly applicable to anything that requires real work and effort and a high probability of failure. I looked at architecture through the prism of my paintball experience knowing the years of crap I'll have to deal with and the requisite luck to get to a point where I can actually have some degree of freedom over what I want to do. Should be worth the price of admission.

Here's a series of shows by Bourdain that I really enjoy about Ferran Adria: