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Future architecture: Nicholas Goldsmith and the journey from mass to membrane

July 1, 2018

Nicholas “Nic” Goldsmith, FAIA, has been a major player for more than 40 years in the development of fabric architecture in North America and around the globe through his leadership of the innovative architectural/engineering firm FTL Design Engineering Studio, based in New York City. I’ve known Nic for more than 20 of those years, and …

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Stressed? Interactive textiles monitor humans and structures for potential damage

During the evening rush-hour traffic, the eight-lane 35W bridge over the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis suddenly collapsed on August 1, 2007, killing 13 people and injuring 145. The bridge was a continuous truss design, and an overstressed gusset plate at a critical joint was later determined as the weak point that contributed to its …

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Some of the most innovative uses of fabric in entertainment environments are found inside

March 1, 2018

Fabric and lighting have an ages-old relationship that elicits something visceral, and when done skillfully there’s a quality to backlit fabric that nothing else can provide,” says Eric Bury, director of project development for the Toronto, Canada-based custom architectural fabrication company Eventscape. Bury acknowledges that of all the construction materials his company uses to create …

Building facades and vertical shade

February 1, 2018

For decades now, since the revelation of the 1970s back-to-earth, energy enlightenment era of oil embargoes and the beginning of the environmentalism movement, architects and government officials have acknowledged the importance of making ever more energy-efficient buildings. It has been proven that buildings (the construction of them and the manufacturing of all the materials that …

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Fabric installation at Renwick Gallery plays with perceptions

December 1, 2017

Since the 17th century (with the debut of the French École des Beaux-Arts), drawing has been the first basic skill taught to architects. This still holds true, despite the advent of computer aided drafting (CAD) and sophisticated rendering software. And today there is a segment of the architecture community rediscovering and embracing the messy hand-drawn …

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Folded fabric roof for a French art gallery and winery

October 1, 2017

What could be more agreeable than a glass of French wine while viewing French art in the landscape of southern France, a landscape made famous by the 19th-century Impressionist/proto-Cubist painter Paul Cézanne? This conflux of ideal conditions melds perfectly in the recently completed Château La Coste Art Gallery, a new venue for viewing artworks while …

Multifunctional fabrics and material innovations

What spurs innovation? Does the kernel of a new idea spring forth fully formed from the brow of a genius, or does it gestate over a long, arduous path involving sweat and heavy lifting? Maybe a bit of both, if you dig into the histories of new materials or processes. Often you will find that …

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Museum of Modern Art fabric exhibition in 1956

September 1, 2017

In 1956, all of New York City’s art world was abuzz about a new exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). It wasn’t the retrospective about the French Impressionist painter Henri Matisse, whose works were newly arrived in New York from Paris (a show that originated at the French National Museum of Modern Art), …

Thermal control technology in textiles expands to a wide variety of industries

June 29, 2017

Recent advances in thermal control for apparel have grabbed the headlines in this type of textile technology, but there are highly sophisticated materials and technologies that are less obvious, but at least as impressive, especially in building interiors and exteriors and other energy-saving applications in everyday life. Depending on the desired outcome, an approach to …

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A sculptural fabric roof for a high-end mall in Mexico

June 1, 2017

A sculptural fabric roof complements the expansion of a high-end mall. Cuernavaca is the capital of Mexico’s Morelos state, located in the lush Tepozteco Mountains just south of and bordering Mexico City. With a warm, stable climate that ranges year-round from 20–30 degrees C (68–86 degrees F), it has legitimate claim to “City of the …