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Georgia Tech Students Bring Musicality to Precast

The School of Architecture at Georgia Tech has a focus on the relationship between research, teaching, and practice. While the design faculty is diverse it has an emphasis on transforming the relationship between conceptual design and real world construction via advanced technologies and material systems. Its curriculum development grant from the PCI Foundation will support teaching and research in the School of Architecture for a period of four years to support innovation on the leading edge of precast concrete; and to promote fundamental design knowledge and competence for graduates entering the AEC industry. The program began in the fall, 2017.

Each year, the fall semester is a jointly taught architectural design studio in the third year of the graduate program, with additional student participation from our Master of Science program in Digital Design and Fabrication. The studio is taught by Professor Tristan Al-Haddad and Professor Russell Gentry serves as the primary engineering consultant within the studio. Industry partners from Georgia/Carolinas PCI, Metromont Precast, Tindall Precast, Gate Precast and US Formliners.

The spring workshop is structured as a technical development, engineering, and prototyping workshop that advances and develops the best design from the fall studio. The spring semester workshop is a collaboration with the Civil Engineering Capstone course where the engineering students partner directly with the architecture students to produce a full set of design calculations and details. Professor Gentry will lead the Civil Capstone students and will collaborate with Professor Al-Haddad on overall project planning. The end result of each year is a collection of concrete design proposals and one full scale prototype of the most promising design from the fall to be fabricated by Gate Precast Company.

The students will work with Gate to develop a detailed BIM model of the design and full specifications from which Gate will build the forms and cast the structure. The body of work is exhibited at Georgia Tech in the summer and will travel as a scaled version to the Fab City Summit in Paris in July 2018. Fab City is the gathering event of the international Fab City network, a global initiative to develop locally productive and globally connected cities. The project that the students developed during the first semester workshop is a precast concrete folly for the Beltline in Atlanta, a 33-mile network of multi-use trailsand public space around the city. The student designed structure serves not only as a decorative threshold, but is also designed to create music as a xylophone. 

"I think the project is really magical because people will walk up to it and they won't think it is concrete," says architecture student Jane Ilyasonva." It is a really inviting experience for people of atlanta coming to the Beltline, which is a really big spot for visitors. When they do come, it is an eye-opening experience - and they will think 'oh wow! I can't believe concete can really be like this.' I think it is really cool. And the shadows it's going to create will help make it an instrument in more than one way."

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