The Living Wall

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June 5, 2010

Western New York is blessed with a gem of an open green space known as the Griffis Sculpture Park, located approximately one hour south of downtown Buffalo. The 400-acre park is filled with more than 250 sculptures, from towering Amazonian women by founder Larry Griffis to climbable giant metal mushrooms and sculpted men. This summer, the permanently outdoor collection is joined by 14 plywood structures designed and built by 100 freshmen architecture students from the University of Buffalo, a project called The Living Wall.

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  I traveled to Buffalo (my hometown) after attending the Montreal International Interior Design Show and drove down to Griffis Sculpture Park with my dad on Memorial Day. The Living Wall, dubbed "a linear community of pods," was installed at the park in April on the lawn near the entrance.  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    I traveled to Buffalo (my hometown) after attending the Montreal International Interior Design Show and drove down to Griffis Sculpture Park with my dad on Memorial Day. The Living Wall, dubbed "a linear community of pods," was installed at the park in April on the lawn near the entrance.

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  The project, lead by University at Buffalo clinical associate professor Shadi Nazarian and adjunct assistant professors Christopher Romano and Nicholas Bruscia, required the students to work in groups to create an inhabitable unit with an entrance, internal circulation, a place in which an individual can stand up straight, and sleeping areas for at least three people.  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    The project, lead by University at Buffalo clinical associate professor Shadi Nazarian and adjunct assistant professors Christopher Romano and Nicholas Bruscia, required the students to work in groups to create an inhabitable unit with an entrance, internal circulation, a place in which an individual can stand up straight, and sleeping areas for at least three people.

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  Like all sculptures in the park, The Living Wall is free for climbing and experiencing by interacting with to the fullest. Here's me in the entrance to one of the pods.  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    Like all sculptures in the park, The Living Wall is free for climbing and experiencing by interacting with to the fullest. Here's me in the entrance to one of the pods.

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  Another requirement of the project was to create a structure that was easily mobile. Each pod was constructed at the University of Buffalo campus and transported by truck to the site, where they were positioned side-by-side.  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    Another requirement of the project was to create a structure that was easily mobile. Each pod was constructed at the University of Buffalo campus and transported by truck to the site, where they were positioned side-by-side.

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  The simple palette of two-by-four lumber and CDX plywood creates a unity between each module.  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    The simple palette of two-by-four lumber and CDX plywood creates a unity between each module.

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  The structures, designed as six-by-six-by-eight-foot boxes, resemble cubes that have be cut, slid, and twisted into new shapes that incorporate the required elements.  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    The structures, designed as six-by-six-by-eight-foot boxes, resemble cubes that have be cut, slid, and twisted into new shapes that incorporate the required elements.

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  Here, the box has been sliced in thirds and rotated around a central pivot.  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    Here, the box has been sliced in thirds and rotated around a central pivot.

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  Here, the box appears to be opening like a clam shell.  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    Here, the box appears to be opening like a clam shell.

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  Inside one unit, cables helped support a heavily cantilevered top half.  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    Inside one unit, cables helped support a heavily cantilevered top half.

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  Visiting the park on a hot day (blue sky, high humidity, and temperatures in the high 80s) put the structures to the test. Overhangs and openings offered nice respites to the weather.  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    Visiting the park on a hot day (blue sky, high humidity, and temperatures in the high 80s) put the structures to the test. Overhangs and openings offered nice respites to the weather.

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  We took a rest in the shade of one overhang to look out at the balcony of the adjacent unit. The student designers will be visiting Griffis Sculpture Park throughout the summer to see how the designs fare over time.  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    We took a rest in the shade of one overhang to look out at the balcony of the adjacent unit. The student designers will be visiting Griffis Sculpture Park throughout the summer to see how the designs fare over time.

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  One unit included a simple yet smart rain water catchment, fully equipped with a spout (and which, if full, would have been fully enjoyed by visitors when we were there).  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    One unit included a simple yet smart rain water catchment, fully equipped with a spout (and which, if full, would have been fully enjoyed by visitors when we were there).

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  The Living Wall will be on the Griffis Sculpture Park grounds through the end of October. For more information, visit griffispark.org and buffalo.edu.  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    The Living Wall will be on the Griffis Sculpture Park grounds through the end of October. For more information, visit griffispark.org and buffalo.edu.

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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