Friday, November 6, 2009

Will it stand as a Cube?

Posted by Will it stand? at 7:00 AM
Architects and engineers are often creatively constrained by the perception of economy in conventional designs. Generations of efficient refinement of building form have led toward standard boxy structures. However, creativity and function driven design can be encapsulated within a traditional cube. The Matrix Gateway Complex would be an exception to the rule of monotony in rectilinear buildings. It would provide residents a full 3-D city experience, featuring suspended platforms linking modular housing and community venues.

Designed as both an urban gateway and a self-sustaining city, this 42-story, 180m cube prototype would be one of the greenest, most aesthetically striking and technologically innovative mixed-use buildings in the world. The Matrix Gateway Complex would contain many of the amenities of a great urban center: a hotel with fitness and conference centers, retail and office spaces, cultural and religious facilities, and waterfalls surrounded by lush green terraces. Each component would take the form of a moveable module, connected to one of five central cores, all of which would be visible from the outside through a semi-transparent exterior skin.


Will it stand?

Based on conventional beam and column floor support, the structure would appear obvious. However, the initial concept dictated that the entire structure be supported only on four central concrete cores. Columns on the grid would not extend down to a foundation. There would be potential economy in this design requirement, given that the entire building is sited over water

Early expectations were that the entire structure could act as a gravity load-resisting moment frame. This concept relies on the stiffness of the columns, beams, and their connections, similar to the concept of a Vierendeel truss. However in this case, the structure would instead cantilever away from the cores. Computer analysis indicated that the 18m span of the beams was too great to satisfy the load demand.

4. vierendeel frames the lives

Alternately, large hat trusses could be constructed in the top stories of the structure (intended for mechanical and energy generation equipment). The majority of the columns would then hang from these trusses. This idea has been put to practice in the Boeing building, in Chicago. A full bay is hung over the train lines that run along side the Chicago River.

In order to preserve vast interior atria while providing links between the core clusters, a combination of moment frames, hat trusses, and inter-story trusses would need to be implemented. These elements would facilitate a stable load path for floor plates of varying size and shape. The final structural hurdle involves the asymmetrical layout of the cores. To preserve the economy of the structure, it is likely that an additional steel core, or large column, would be required to support one corner of the cube from below.

The Matrix Gateway Complex was the named the Best New Global Design for 2009 by the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design. The design is by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architects. Thornton Tomasetti provided schematic structural consulting.

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