In late October, Bloomberg L.P. unveiled its new European headquarters designed by Foster + Partners and a special installation by New Project. The 3.2 acre London site includes numerous commissioned artworks and an exhibit designed by Studio Joseph about the legendary Bloomberg Terminal’s history. New Project worked closely with Principal Wendy Evans Joseph and Associate Connie Wu to realize their design which complemented the aesthetic of the building while capturing the unique, forward-looking identity of Bloomberg.
The display took the form of three interlocking and one stand-alone Möbius strip-like shapes made of aluminum and fiberglass to support embedded terminals and educational information. Studio Joseph’s impressive design for the individual components cantilevered eight feet from a single point requiring New Project to employ our engineering as well as fabrication know-how.
In July, Studio Joseph provided New Project with a 3-D model of the finished display from which we created design engineering drawings for production. The substrate was 5-axis milled from 3-pound EPS foam and fitted around a laser cut aluminum structure. The forms were glassed with carbon fiber, fiberglass, and epoxy resin, then coated with a satin automotive finish. After the Bruce Mau-designed graphics were applied, another clear coat was applied for protection. The terminal supports were fabricated out of steel and then powder coated. From end to end, the entire installation measured almost 24 feet long by 20 feet wide.
Once the fabrication was complete, we built custom crates and oversaw the shipping to London where we installed the display while the finishing touches to the building were still being undertaken. We completed the entire project in under 3 months, including overseas shipping and installation. The end result was a stunning interactive display that invited people to learn about the technology that revolutionized an industry and laid the foundation for a billion-dollar business.
Design drawings for one component of Mobius installation
Milled foam readied for aluminum support structures
Laser cut aluminum support structures
Matt welds the supports to the steel base
Frank fits the support into the foam
Dustin preps the fiberglass forms
After the forms are painted and graphics applied, Frank and team build custom crates to ensure safe passage to London
Chris’s view of the installation process from above
Modular Custom Furniture for Cornell Tech- “It’s Not Our Space, It’s Theirs”
New York City is no stranger to arts-specific educational institutions. Manhattan and its surrounding boroughs are home to Parsons the New School of Design, the School of Visual Arts, Pratt Institute, and the New York Film Academy, among many others. Each offering their own set of discipline-focused curricula, these schools have produced countless alumni who have gone on to become leaders in their respective fields. With the recent shift toward the technological and with start-ups securing their place as a permanent fixture of our future, it was only a matter of time before New York’s already impressive educational offerings included a technology-based school which would focus on preparing its students with the information technology skills they’ll need to be at the forefront of the rapidly-changing technological landscape. Enter, Cornell Tech.
Seen as a way to increase entrepreneurship and job growth in the city’s technology sector, Mayor Bloomberg announced the plans for Cornell Tech’s 12 acre Roosevelt Island campus back in 2011. The first phase of construction is slated to be completed in 2017, with the remainder of the campus scheduled to be finished in 2037. In the interim, in order to establish a foot-hold in the city, Cornell Tech has begun offering their graduate program out of a temporary home inside Google’s Chelsea building. The school was looking for a space that is open and flexible, where students, faculty, and guests could interact and collaborate in unique and personalized ways. Enter, New Project.
New Project was contracted by Rockwell Group, a local architectural design firm, to fabricate large mobile modules that the students can move, rearrange, and manipulate to create unique spaces for classes, lectures, study, and lounging. Rockwell Group accurately defines the resulting creation as a “learning toolkit of working hubs and surfaces that encourage collaboration”.
Using Rockwell Group’s original designs, New Project fabricated and installed four freestanding, modular structures in the school’s “Studio” in 2013. Each module was equipped with white boards and cork boards, as well as access to dropped electrical power sources so that students could easily attach computers, projectors, monitors, etc. Various seating and large work surfaces make up the remainder of the space, which could be transformed and moved to accommodate a number of various needs including events, lectures and presentations. Additionally, we built a custom reception desk in the shape of Roosevelt Island, the university’s future home, using layered furniture-grade birch plywood.
A year and a half later, we’ve returned to the campus and spoke with Cornell Tech staff members Tamika Morales, Administrative Assistant, and Aaron Holiday, Managing Entrepreneurial Officer, to see how the units have been received and manipulated by the students. Here’s what they had to say:NP: In your experience here at Cornell Tech, how have you noticed the students using the furniture in “The Studio”? TM: The students have become very comfortable with the furniture. They use the large piece, dubbed “Mamma Jamma”, the most. I’ve seen it used as a large desk and study area, a stage, and many other things. All of the furniture is used on a daily basis in a number of different ways. The furniture has actually become a very important part of the student’s “Hack Days”. NP: Can you elaborate on what a Hack Day is and how the furniture is used in the process? AH: Hack Days occur three times a semester. The objective of this 24 hour event is for the students to make accelerated progress on the projects they are building on campus, particularly technology and software. It creates a collaborative culture for people who are actively building things. The furniture is an integral part of hack day. We put the studio in a way that its setup is completely unusable; tables are flipped upside down, things are all over the place. Tamika and the team will pile all of the furniture up in the middle of the room with the white boards all around the space. Then, at the count of three, students will race and go after everything and grab what they want. It’s actually quite incredible to watch this completely disheveled space transform into a useable work area in less than a minute. The students can create and convert it into their own space, They take ownership not only of the project they are working on but the space they’re working in. This can only happen because the furniture is modular and on wheels. NP: That sounds exciting! Reminds me of the cornucopia scene in The Hunger Games, without all the violence of course. When we built the furniture we were really hoping that the students would take ownership of the space and utilize it according to their needs. It’s nice to see they are. Are there any other events that come to mind that the furniture was manipulated and used for? TM: Yes! We use it all the time for seminars, announcements, panel discussions, and most often for our weekly guest speakers. We call it Conversations In The Studio, where luminaries in the tech community are invited to come and speak to about entrepreneurship, engineering, art and other topics. The conversations are moderated by the students. We can pull out the stage, and set up chairs, but the rest of the furniture is pushed to the sides to accommodate the crowds. Sometimes the Google people come down to hear the speaker. NP: Have the students or speakers used the furniture in any way that has surprised you? TM: I saw someone actually doing pull-ups one day on Mamma Jamma. I also once saw someone turn one one of the pieces into their own space, complete with a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the outside, they found the remotes that are hidden inside the deskâ€¦ they really take ownership. The magnetic Cornell Tech sign gets moved everywhere and is played with to take pictures and whatnot. It’s always in a new spot. NP: There is a lot going on here everyday, and it’s not a huge space. It almost seems like this kind of set up was necessary. If the furniture was static and heavy, you would have been very limited as to what you could do with the space. TM: Yes, I think the students would have been very frustrated. It wouldn’t have the same energy. This isn’t our space, it’s their space.
We have to say, we knew the furniture would be utilized, but we were pleasantly surprised how they have incorporated the furniture into their daily lives on campus. It is interesting that physical furniture is so heavily manipulated and depended on in such a technological setting. We are so proud of what we built, and think Rockwell Group really hit the nail on the head with the design.
We leave you with some visuals from the planning, fabrication, and installation phases of the project. Enjoy!
Also, check out Rockwell Group’s Vimeo Page for a time-lapse video of Cornell’s Studio in use.