CASE STUDY: Gensler
In 2011, professors Jim Doerfler and Mark Cabrinha, co-directors of Cal Poly's Digital Fabrication Lab ("d[Fab]Lab") reached out to Gensler L.A. design director Shawn Gehle to create a fully-virtualized studio focused on digital fabrication and online collaboration tools. In response, Gehle authored a unique, 10-week seminar that would allow students access to the firm's design talent and explore form-finding and digital fabrication techniques through the design of a custom furniture piece. The design brief simply outlined a piece that could accommodate standing and sitting space for guests and storage for the firm's design publications. The piece would need to be site-specific and prominently featured in Gensler's new downtown Los Angeles office.
Beyond an initial in-person meeting, Cal Poly students and d[Fab]Lab faculty met with Gensler advisors via the online collaboration tool to conduct weekly seminar discussions and review the team's progress. In addition to bridging the 200-mile gap between designers in Los Angeles and students and faculty in San Luis Obispo, this method allowed professional consultants and materials specialists to participate easily, while exposing students to the kind of virtual collaboration that is prevalent in professional practice today. Maintaining a focus on a digital workflow, the team's design and documentation process also was conducted virtually, substituting a 3-D model as the deliverable for fabrication in lieu of a traditional set of 2-D drawings.
Over the course of the seminar, the original concepts of three students were developed and refined using the 3-D modeling software Rhino and T-Splines, and virtually reviewed and critiqued weekly with Gensler's design staff. Structural engineers at Buro Happold and the solid surfacing material provider, LG Hausys, joined multiple discussions to examine schemes and offer insight on constructability, cost and structural integrity. A final, in-person meeting in Los Angeles focused on the review of physical prototypes and material samples, and enabled the team to address the challenges of forming fiberglass vs. solid surfacing as the table's predominant surface material.
Inspired by the design and opportunity, LG Hausys become a partner in the project, providing technical expertise and support for their HI-MACS solid surfacing product, which proved to be the ideal material for achieving the table's draped surface. LG Hausys also introduced the team to the capabilities of R.D. Wing Co. Inc., the Seattle-based fabrication specialists who ultimately constructed and delivered the table's design.
The SLO_Gen table was recently installed in the main entry of Gensler Los Angeles, where its dramatic profile continues to lure pedestrians in from the street and prompt conversation on its origin.
• Gensler Los Angeles: www.gensler.com - Robert Jernigan, Shawn Gehle
TEAM - Design
• Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo - College of Architecture and Environmental Design: www.arch.calpoly.edu
- Faculty: Jim Doerfler, Mark Cabrinha
- Students: Ben Hait-Campbell, Cory Walker, Kegan Charles Flanderka
• Gensler Los Angeles: www.gensler.com
- Sabu Song, Shawn Gehle, Richard Hammond, Valentin Lieu
TEAM - Engineering
• Buro Happold: www.burohappold.com
- Garrett Jones, Gary Lau, Greg Otto, Liz Mahlow
TEAM - Fabrication
• R.D. Wing Co., Inc.: www.rdwing.com
- Brandon Wing, Dan Foreman, Vath Sida, Wayne Bart
• LG Hausys - HI-MACS Solid Surfacing
Rights of Use
Any member or organization of the project team may use the photographs provided for this project for marketing purposes such as annual reports, brochures, project descriptions, web usage, and other similar professional marketing or business communications. Prior approval from Gensler Los Angeles is required for awards competitions and news releases (printed and web media). Should you desire to publish or submit the project for awards, competitions, or for editorial presentations, it must be cleared through Gensler Los Angeles to avoid editorial conflicts.
Proper credit must be given to the copyright holder of the images: © Gensler Los Angeles, unless otherwise specified. Gensler Los Angeles/Cal Poly must also be credited as the designer for the project in all printed or published material and wherever possible, the individual organizations with their individual roles noted as the entire project team.