This video reveals the story behind the design to fabrication process of the SLO_Gen table, a Gensler Los Angeles design build project with the Department of Architecture at the College of Architecture and Environmental Design at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
Video produced for class credit, as part of an academic course by: Cory Walker, Cal Poly '12
Video and course advisors: Mark Cabrinha,Jim Doerfler & Shawn Gehle
Information on the SLO_Gen Table
The SLO_Gen communal table is an undeniable focal point in Gensler’s Los Angeles office lobby, and the result of an innovative partnership between Gensler and the Department of Architecture at the College of Architecture and Environmental Design at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
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 Citrix's online collaboration tool GoToMeeting 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 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 studio, 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 is now 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, 500 S. Figueroa, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Shawn Gehle, Design Director – Gensler Los Angeles
follow Shawn on Twitter: @shawngehle
Mark Cabrinha, Ph.D., RA, Associate Professor, Architecture Department - Cal Poly, SLO
• CAL POLY, SAN LUIS OBISPO - arch.calpoly.edu
Department of Architecture, College of Architecture and Environmental Design
Faculty: Jim Doerfler, Mark Cabrinha
Students: Ben Hait-Campbell, Cory Walker, Kegan Charles Flanderka
• GENSLER LOS ANGELES - gensler.com
Sabu Song, Shawn Gehle, Richard Hammond, Valentin Lieu
• BURO HAPPOLD - burohappold.com
Garrett Jones, Gary Lau, Greg Otto, Liz Mahlow,
• R.D. WING CO., INC. - rdwing.com
Brandon Wing, Dan Foreman, Vath Sida, Wayne Bart
• LG HAUSYS – HI-MACS® Solid Surfacing