A Surface of Points

A rendering of the courtyard at Nike's Los Angeles offices demonstrates how sunlight coming through a glass atrium and through the glass tubes will illuminate the enclosed space while adding a texturizing shadow pattern to the environment.

With proper lighting from the interior, the proposed installation at the Smithsonian Institution Patent Office Building (which houses the National Portrait Gallery) would have created striking visual effects as the light went through each individual glass rod in the truss system. The Smithsonian competition was won by Norman Foster.

With proper lighting from the interior, the proposed installation at the Smithsonian Institution Patent Office Building (which houses the National Portrait Gallery) would have created striking visual effects as the light went through each individual glass rod in the truss system. The Smithsonian competition was won by Norman Foster.

PROGRESSION OF INSTALLATION The system devised for the Smithsonian Institution Patent Office Building would be erected in stages, beginning with a base structure of linear steel truss frames topped with service catwalks. A glass box enclosure would go up next, and the acoustics in the room would be tested to determine the undulating pattern created by tubes of different lengths. Steel cables are then hung to approximate the surface of the ceiling and to provide points of connection for the suspended rods. The tubes are then hung to form the deep cable truss system, and, finally, second-floor galleries are projected into the space to allow spectators to watch events below.

LAYOUT OF GLASS TUBE GRID The truss system relies on the rods being placed in a grid pattern, such as this one at Nike's Los Angeles offices on Hayden Avenue. The pattern allows the tubes to absorb the necessary compressive force, but offsetting each row also allows for a fuller visual field.

COMPRESSION FORCE Each tube serves as a compression member for the truss system, with compressive forces moving downward from the structural steel rafters and upward from the steel cables that thread through the rows of tubes. The weight of the truss system is supported by loadbearing CMU walls.

GLASS TUBE STRUT The individual glass tubes have metal reinforcement around each attachment point, including the top where the tube connects to the structural rafter, and the point where the steel cable threads through the tube.

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