One of Columbia University's newest facilities has a very specialized purpose: the storage and conservation of projection slides, a staple of art history and archaeology instruction. In this project, architects Marble Fairbanks created an enclosure for thousands of slide file drawers dominated by an undulating east wall of milled MDF panels and ½-inchthick glass, stacked vertically and threaded onto a series of supporting rods. The MDF panels were CNC milled in an on-campus workshop and are meticulously shaped so that the profiles combine to form a sinuous wall surface. At intervals, two sheets of glass are placed between the MDF panels on the threaded support system. This allows for light to shine through the width of the glass, adding visual texture. The other three walls are made up of MDF panels laminated with sheet linoleum and inscribed with the tooling paths of pieces in the east wall.
The jury found the process of designing and fabricating the project even more interesting than the end result. The process was organized to foster alliances between several university departments and teams of students. A new fabrication lab on campus has a mandate to explore innovative fabrication and assembly techniques at full scale. This group joined forces with the facilities department, students from the school of architecture, and the clients from the art history and archaeology department to create a laboratory environment that utilized the strengths of the university community to create a project that will serve it.
“It's understanding that the campus has its own kind of ecosystem of decision-making. That's seldom ever captured,” Chris Genik said. “This kind of effort should be commended because it's unusual.” The other jury members agreed: “It's made in the university by the university,” Andres Lepik said. “It's bringing forces together and creating this idea of working together in different faculties.”
PROJECT Expanded Alliances, Slide Library, Department of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University, New York
CLIENT Department of Design and Construction, Columbia University; Department of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University
ARCHITECT Marble Fairbanks, New York—Scott Marble, Karen Fairbanks (partners); Jake Nishimura (project architect); Eric Ng, Katie Shima (design team)
COLLABORATORS Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University, New York—Avery Digital Fabrication Lab: David Benjamin (project manager); Cory Clarke, Phil Anzalone (co-directors); Ian Weiss, Darren Zhou, Jamison Guest, Katie Mearns, Taka Sarui, Soo-in Yang, Amy Yang (fabrication team); Mark Taylor, Paul Miller, Taka Sarui, Alexandra Distler, Chyanne Husar, Sabri Farouki, Chris Kanipe, Jamison Guest, Armando Ortiz (assembly team)
LIGHTING DESIGNER Rick Shaver Architectural Lighting
STRUCTURAL ENGINEER Norfast Consulting Group
MECHANICAL ENGINEER Charles G. Michel Engineering PC
GENERAL CONTRACTOR Ideal Interiors
OFF-SITE FABRICATORS Bjork Carle Woodworking, Stainless Metals Inc., Kangoo Products
SIZE 1,000 square feet