Developing the geometries for these multifaceted layers demanded intense coordination in person and in the cloud. Siegel notes that the design team pushed the structure through five different software processes to create the necessary level of detailing before sending it to Kreysler & Associates.
For the fabricator, coordination consisted of intense collaboration and numerous meetings with all parties involved, including the design and engineering teams and enclosure consultants Walter P Moore. “It’s really required a whole new way of thinking about coordination,” says Kreysler. “We’ve worked on a lot of complicated projects; that’s our stock in trade. This one raises the bar quite a bit in terms of its complexity.”
The construction process begins with a digital architectural file that is sent to Kreysler’s Mare Island, Calif., facility, where a custom-built CNC machine shapes each foam mold. Meanwhile, automated mixing equipment maintains consistency in the mixture of resin components.
“The mold itself has a series of digital pads and placement points in it that serve a very specific purpose,” Siegel says. “Each panel has a structure attached to the back [that must be] in the exact spot it needs to be in so that, when we put it up on the building, it hangs in the right place.”
The layers are fabricated using vacuum bagging. “Because the formulation that we use is a heavily filled system, we’re not able to use some of the newer manufacturing techniques in the composites industry, like vacuum infusion,” Kreysler explains.
Siegel describes the process as “digital design, made by hand, finished by robot.” Once the panels are assembled using traditional processes, they’re moved to a robotic cell. Two large robots mounted on a 75-foot-long linear track scan the panels, using photogrammetry to measure panels precisely. Upon identifying the appropriate panel, the tools cut the perimeter of the panel to the right size.
Kreysler notes that these laser-guided measuring tools are typically used in manufacturing wind turbines or automobiles to verify consistency in the pieces produced. “To use them to measure hundreds of panels, all with different and constantly changing shapes is unique,” he says.
Next, the robot uses a grinding head to smooth the panel’s post-applied finish. That finish is another first. Kreysler explains he often blends fillers with coatings to achieve unique properties, but the result is typically sandblasted. The sandblasting process creates a roughness that, in this case, didn’t appeal to the owner. So rather than sandblasting, the finish is sanded by robots. The result, Kreysler says, looks under a microscope much like a terrazzo floor: a durable blend of resin and crushed rock that beautifully reflects the light.