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The Making of Screenplay: Part 7

Jenny Wu, a partner at Oyler Wu Collaborative, documents the process from design through fabrication of their latest installation, Screenplay, to be featured at the upcoming Dwell on Design 2012. Part 7: From 2D to 3D

Up to this point, we have been working with two-dimensional profiles that have been relatively easy to construct because we are able to build them flat on the platform. Now that we have completed the profiles, the difficulty level quickly has become exponentially higher as we attempt to connect the profiles together in three-dimensional space.

Each steel profile is placed vertically upright and 14 inches apart from each other.
Each steel profile is placed vertically upright and 14 inches apart from each other.

Very much like the way we constructed the profiles, we have tried to devise the best way to set them up to ensure that the overall geometry is accurate from the beginning. Our first step was to create a beam suspended at a height similar to that of the profiles.

The profiles are numbered and notched on the wood jig, which holds them in place and ready for the in-between steel pieces.
The profiles are numbered and notched on the wood jig, which holds them in place and ready for the in-between steel pieces.
Our staff is measuring and positioning the steels section in space and marking the correct angles that need to be cut.
Our staff is measuring and positioning the steels section in space and marking the correct angles that need to be cut.

That beam is then notched at 14” apart to receive the profiles so that we can stand them upright. The notched beam acts as a jig to ensure that the profiles are held in the precise position to receive the interconnecting structural elements. We also repainted portions of the wood platform to show the plan positioning of the profiles.

Once in place, we began the laborious tasks of measuring, cutting, welding, and grinding of the steel pieces that connect the profiles together. One person will then mark the position of the steel piece with blue tape, while another person positions the piece correctly and cuts the ends to the exact angle. They are then welded together.

We also have one person in charge of double-checking to see if all of the pieces have been made, constantly moving back and forth between the digital model and the real thing. We learned that the sheer number of elements has made it relatively easy to miss a few. Knowing that once the frames are painted it becomes much more difficult to make corrections, we are making every attempt to find the errors now rather than later. So far we have averaged one error per four-bay module (which is not bad…or is it?).

Out staff is constantly checking with the digital model on our laptops as we build to make sure that we have not made any errors as well as pulling information from the digital model.
Out staff is constantly checking with the digital model on our laptops as we build to make sure that we have not made any errors as well as pulling information from the digital model.
We then grind the welds smooth with the angle grinder.
We then grind the welds smooth with the angle grinder.
From this perspective, the depth of each profile becomes apparent and the wall becomes much mores three-dimensional.
From this perspective, the depth of each profile becomes apparent and the wall becomes much mores three-dimensional.

Simultaneous to the making of the wall pieces, we have also started to build the horizontal seating element. This piece is definitely the most difficult element geometrically, because we are not just connecting single pieces of steel section between two profiles. In fact, the bench is composed of multiple, three-dimensional sections of steel frames that extend out of one of the bays of the wall. We have had to map the points of intersection of the entire bench both in plan and in three-dimensional space in order to build it correctly.

We added an extension to the original platform in order to support the seating element.
We added an extension to the original platform in order to support the seating element.
We are constantly discussing the best ways to connect and correct construction challenges.
We are constantly discussing the best ways to connect and correct construction challenges.
Construction of the seating element.
Construction of the seating element.

I think we are feeling pretty good about how the steel fabrication is going, however, we are really starting to get concerned about the roping process. Next week we have decided that we will try to completely finish and paint one of the four-bay modules so that we can experiment with the roping process early on rather than waiting to finish all of the steel work before starting.

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