Memory Cloud

Submitted by Metalab

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Client: Texas A&M University

Location: College Station, TX, United States

Completion date: 2012

Artwork budget: $350,000

Project Team

Architect

Joe Meppelink, Andrew Vrana, Michael Gonzales, Thomas Behrman

Metalab

Artist

Shane Allbritton, Norman Lee

RE:site

Overview

Memory Cloud explores the embodiment of tradition, as shared patterns of movement handed down within a community. An ethereal constellation of light expresses the pulse of Texas A&M University campus life, making students both viewer and subject. Moving patterns of light are abstracted from archived footage of time honored traditions and juxtaposed with real-time feed of everyday life in the Memorial Student Center. Like shifting images in the clouds, the abstracted forms change constantly throughout the day. This living sculpture unites past and present for the viewer, who cannot tell if these patterns were created days or decades before.

Goals

Metalab used Rhino Grasshopper to develop the geometry of the Memory Cloud. Beyond qualitative spatial and aesthetic criteria the tools were used for developing quantitative data sets for the lighting purchase orders and assembly inventories. The waffle structure of the diagrid canopy was developed using FEA software at Insight Structures and feedback from that analysis drove the varying depth of the profiles. The notches were calibrated based on a full scale prototype that tested the material welding. Metalab especially benefited from the use of the Lunchbox plug-in for Grasshopper developed by Nathan Miller of CASE, Inc. The diagonal structure tools created clean data structures that retained their organization as the geometry was projected into the cloud.

Process

Memory Cloud is the winning commission awarded to RE:site (Norman Lee and Shane Allbritton) with METALAB (Andrew Vrana, Joe Meppelink, and Thomas Behrman) by Texas A&M University for the new Memorial Student Center 12th Man Hall. Through a competition and short-list interview process the team demonstrated the ability to harness the potential of programmable LEDs, remote sensing, parametric design and digital fabrication to create an open ended narrative of the story of the University through animated silhouette imagery of past and real-time present student life on the campus.