POETIC STRUCTURE: ART + ENGINEERING + ARCHITECTURE celebrated the fundamental artistic elements found in the design execution of engineering in architecture. Through a number of projects and installations by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP(SOM) engineers and visual artists, including a previously unseen kinematic pavilion hovering above the landscape on the grounds of the historic Schindler House. This exhibition displayed striking examples of how these disciplines, when integrated, demonstrate the similarities that exist between artistic and structural design.
Each component of the exhibition illustrated SOM’s multidisciplinary practice, past and present, and the way design embraces and integrates engineering into works of public art. Throughout the various spaces in the MAK Center, Poetic Structure: Art + Engineering + Architecture offered conceptual visualizations showing the intricate connections between these disciplines as conveyed through:
- Scale and Form Pavilion: This 8′ tall by 12′ wide by 27′ long pavilion is a doubly curved kinematic structure with stiffened wood panels hinged together. The form of the pavilion is inspired by the mathematical relationships between force and motion. The hovering pavilion was suspended off aluminum trusses and braced with steel wires, and morphed into an expanded or contracted version of the original geometry with minimal effort
- Models: Within the hovering pavilion, more than 30 structural models at 1:500 scale were on display. The exterior walls were absent on each model to show the structural skeleton. By showing how the building maintains its identity without the presence of the exterior wall, the integration of structure and architecture is understood as seamless
- Ideas Wall: A mosaic collage of hand-drawn sketches from SOM’s structural leadership that showcase the design process as a continuously evolving discussion of a collective group
- Art installations and digital projections: Visuals and work from globally-acclaimed artists and architects who have partnered with SOM to design large-scale public installations, including Janet Echelman’s Dream Catcher, James Carpenter’s Hope Tower, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle’s Weatherfield, Jaume Plensa’s World Voices, and additional work by Pablo Picasso and Peter Zumthor
For more than 80 years, SOM has explored the poetics of structure through continual examination, experimentation, and development of partnerships with artists to heighten design thinking. The MAK Center for Art and Architecture surveyed these principles through the lens of a cultural organization dedicated to challenging the conventional notions of the relationship between architectural spaces and creative arts, through exhibitions, lectures, performances and tours.
Various iterations of this exhibition have been featured in architecture and design festivals, museums and events around the world, including the Venice Biennale; the Chicago Architecture Biennial; Aalborg, Denmark; and Munich, Germany.
Programming accompanied the exhibition run in the form of panel discussions with artists, SOM engineers, architects and community leaders; building tours; youth education programs; and panel discussions. All are among the on- and off-site events that offered the public a deeper understanding of the intersections between art and engineering, and the impact the work has on the built environment.
The exhibition also included a panel discussion at the Schindler House in August that was free and open to the public. The event took place in the home’s beautiful outdoor courtyard, and brought together a variety of experts from the Los Angeles area to explore the relationship between art, engineering, and architecture.
About Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) is one of the leading architecture, interior design, engineering, and urban planning firms in the world. Since its founding more than 80 years ago, SOM has earned a reputation for design excellence with a portfolio that includes some of the most important architectural accomplishments of the 20th and 21st centuries, and has been a leader in the research and development of specialized technologies, new processes and innovative ideas, many of which have had a palpable and lasting impact on the design profession and the physical environment. The firm’s longstanding leadership in design and building technology has been honored with nearly 2,000 awards for quality, innovation, and management. The American Institute of Architects has recognized SOM twice with its highest honor, the Architecture Firm Award-in 1962 and again in 1996. The firm maintains offices in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Dubai, and Mumbai.
The exhibition’s presenting sponsor was Taslimi Construction. Additional sponsors include Computers and Structures, Inc.; ARC Document Solutions / Riot Creative Imaging; Earthquake Prevention Systems; the Herrick Corporation; Paci c Architectural Millwork; Hathaway Dinwiddie; Langan; CoreBrace; C.R. Laurence; DeWalt; GERB; Rudolph and Sletten; and Taylor Devices