April 27, 2005
CUA Architecture Exhibit Explores Cutting-Edge Design Technology
On Saturday, April 30, CUA’s School of Architecture and Planning will unveil an exhibit exploring the school’s instruction in cutting-edge design and fabrication technology, which is unique in the Washington, D.C., area. The exhibit opens at the Edward M. Crough Center with a reception at 7 p.m.
Titled “Thinking as Doing: An Investigation into Design Methodology, Fabrication Techniques and the Experiential,” the exhibit is the culmination of a semester-long design studio in which students used computer-aided design/3-D modeling and fabrication technology to design and create a three-dimensional installation of aluminum and acrylic.
The exhibit includes computer-generated drawings that detail the students’ analysis of the Crough Center’s main corridor and its eventual rendering as the 80-foot-long installation.
For the project, the students used state-of-the-art equipment at CUA — a 3-D digitizer, which translates physical points in space into virtual space, and a CO2 laser cutter, which takes its instructions from computer-generated drawings and cuts various materials such as cardboard, wood and acrylic.
With the aid of the equipment, the students constructed scaled models of the installation and its parts. Later, they sent drawings of the installation pieces to two Washington, D.C.-area fabrication shops, which produced 80 uniquely-shaped pieces of lightweight aluminum and 384 pieces of acrylic, using computer numerical control (CNC) milling machines and a high-pressure water jet cutter. The students then assembled the pieces into the final installation, which will hang permanently in the Crough Center.
Randall Ott, dean of the architecture school and planning, says that CUA’s school is the only one in the D.C. area with such advanced technology as well as a collaborative relationship with OEC Engineering Corp. of Chantilly, Va., which produced the aluminum pieces of the installation.
The engineering company also provides internships for CUA architecture majors. This summer, J.P. Müller, OEC Engineering’s chief operating officer, will teach a CUA architecture course titled “Introduction to CNC Machining.”
“These innovations show our students where the profession is going as far as design technology is concerned,” says Ott. “They allow them to take a very complicated three-dimensional form conceived in the computer and actually build it.”
Rick Lessard, chief operating officer of the Lessard Architectural Group, based in Vienna, Va., says, “Presently very few firms in the Washington, D.C., area have this kind of equipment.”
Lessard, who earned CUA bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architecture and has hired a number of CUA graduates at his firm since the early 1980s, describes the architecture school’s curriculum as “the most innovative in the D.C. area. We find that CUA graduates are well prepared in terms of theoretical knowledge as well as the latest advances in the field.”
The exhibit opening is free and open to the public. Following the opening, the exhibit will be accessible to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
In addition to OEC Engineering, Acrylic Custom Works of Rockville, Md., served as a project collaborator, providing technical and educational assistance.
MEDIA: To cover the exhibit opening, contact Chris Harrison in the Office of Public
Affairs at 202-319-6975.
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The Catholic University of America,
Office of Public Affairs.