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RICSSummit of the Americas Toronto 2014
May 4-6, 2014
RICS Summit of the Americas 2014 is for any real estate professional looking to draw from timely, in-depth market knowledge that will be shared by local and international experts in the land, property and construction sectors. The summit will provide an excellent opportunity to connect with top professionals from around the world and engage in educational seminars and premier discussion forums. 

Sonoma Living: Home Tours
May 10, 2014
AIA San Francisco and AIA Redwood Empire are excited to announce Sonoma Living: Home Tours, a new home tours program for 2014. Sonoma Living will showcase a wide variety of architectural styles, neighborhoods, and residences—all from the architect's point of view. The program provides design enthusiasts and the general public with an inside look into the world of distinctive residences in Sonoma county. Tour participants have the opportunity to see some of the area's latest residential projects from the inside out, meet design teams, explore housing trends, and discover design solutions that inspire unique Sonoma living.


Design for Social Impact
May 25–August 3, 2014
Based on the idea that design is a way of looking at the world with an eye for changing it, the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) presents Design for Social Impact, an original exhibition offering a look at how designers, engineers, students, professors, architects and social entrepreneurs use design to solve the problems of the 21st century. 

 

Competitions

Deadline: April 25
Call for Entries (Student Awards) 
ASLA 

Deadline: June 1 
AIA|LA 2014 Design Awards Program Registration 
AIA|LA

Deadline: December 31
Kitchen Design Contest
Wolf and Sub-Zero 

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« Books: Two Southern California Modernists | Main | Building Your Business: Becoming Trade Savvy »
Wednesday
Jul032013

Workbook: Dynamism on the Prairie

Stephen Dietrich Lee's winning design for the Ring at Ragdale, a Lake Forest, Illinois, artists' community plays with porosity. Photography by Rachel Harper/Ragdale.

Set on 50 acres of prairie in Lake Forest, Illinois, Ragdale plays host to a revolving group of artists, writers, composers and choreographers for residencies ranging from two to six weeks. Recently, the organization launched a competition to design and build a new, temporary Ragdale Ring to house summer performances and events. New York–based architect Stephen Dietrich Lee’s entry was the winner, a design, he says, that “worked well in a natural setting and that has very little site impact.” We talked with him a bit more about the competition and his thoughts on the structure.

What prompted you to enter the competition?

We entered the competition for two reasons: Primary—very few competitions permit the architect to actually build a winning scheme, and design-build is something I am very much interested in. This is a way to be a part of each creative aspect: design, analysis, fabrication and construction.

Secondary—This is an inaugural competition that will grow throughout the design community for years to come. We thought about the future more than the present, meaning we were already thinking about the 10, 25 and 50 year Ragdale Ring Design Catalogues. This is an opportunity to be part of something much larger than just designing a temporary performance space.

What was the inspiration behind the design?

The inspiration was derived from an analysis of frames and porosity. We took a chance and proposed an open air structure. I believe the skeletal systems of buildings are one of the most interesting stages of construction. Many physical models were built, which explored the relationship of a single module that is flipped and stitched together creating a lace structure. We then explored the catenary, or self-weight, deflections of creating arches that would allow the lace structure to stand without additional assistance. 

Since it's a temporary structure, how did your approach differ from one that would be permanent? Did you feel more empowered to be whimsical?

The temporality did not persuade our approach. We look at each project and explore relationships within its context. The site has incredible views to a prairie, which is elegantly framed by trees. We knew it was important to maintain the visual connection to the prairie while creating a shell that changes density as one moves around it.

What special considerations were in place given its purpose and temporary role?

We considered the subtlety of how the structure connects to the earth. The structure weighs 4000 pounds and is carefully anchored to the earth. We knew it was important to minimize material waste. Because the structure is temporary, we knew it was important to stretch our dollar. Introducing a modular and repeatable system that generated 374 boards of the same length was a driving force. The only waste generated from the 2x6 wood members is from cutting them in half and drilling four holes in each board for their connections.

Were its purpose versus its temporary status in opposition or did that not come into play?

The purpose and temporality were never at opposition throughout our studies. We find that program and structure play well together. For example, the structure feels very neutral as a backdrop for a performance. But when one moves through the landscape the Ring is much more active because its density and geometry is much more dynamic. When the Ring is not hosting an event the Ring is the event.

6) What is the key thing you'd like to communicate to our readers?

We developed a scheme that worked well in a natural setting that has very little site impact. We are always challenging ourselves to minimize our impact on the environment. It is important to use our resources sparingly and create dynamic structures.

 

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