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UTSA architecture students install structure at San Antonio's Travis Park

installation at Travis Park
installation at Travis Park
installation at Travis Park

UTSA architecture graduate students' design project at Travis Park

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(June 4, 2014) -- Graduate students in the UTSA College of Architecture recently installed a 15-foot-tall, 40-foot-wide and 40-foot-long dome sculpture in Travis Park as part of an end-of-semester project for their graduate-level studio, "Design on Topic: Thinness."

The sculpture, "F2," is the first major public art installation featured at the newly renovated Travis Park. It is scheduled to be on display on the south side of the park for three months. The architectural installation will have public, docent-led tours every Tuesday at 7 p.m. during that time.

The installation received partnership support from the City of San Antonio Center for City Development and Operations Department and the Department for Culture and Creative Development.

The installation is a grid shell dome made of interweaving pieces of wood covered with folded plastic panels. It was designed by 14 graduate students studying the fundamentals of parametric design, and it was fabricated and installed by 13 volunteers that included members of the original graduate studio.

All of the work was completed under the supervision of Kevin McClellan, senior lecturer in architecture, and Andrew Kudless, the UTSA College of Architecture Dean's Distinguished Visiting Critic for 2014.

"Our students are ecstatic to see their work displayed so prominently in a major city park," said McClellan. "Not many universities give their students the opportunity to build their foundational knowledge of form and design through hands-on projects such as these, which give students a better understanding of the complexities inherent in building and assembly."

The installation is a study in the design technique known as "form finding," which explores the relationship between structural forms and forces. In this case, that force is gravity. The students chose their design, a dome shell that forms an arch, in order to test its performance against this natural force.

Throughout the process, the students experimented with several different grid shell designs, covering fabrics and bracing materials. The class updated a blog detailing their efforts. Their experiments and reports can be viewed at the Design on Topic website.

>> The UTSA College of Architecture and the City of San Antonio will host an opening reception featuring food, entertainment and related activities from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, June 5 at Travis Park. For more information, visit SanAntonio.gov or Facebook.

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