Confluence Park (Schematic Design)
San Antonio, Texas

Confluence Park is an initiative of the San Antonio River Foundation to transform a former industrial laydown yard into an outdoor learning center. With environmental education as an overarching theme, the design will incorporate creative learning opportunities into virtually every aspect of the park. To this end, the park is designed as one large organism, with various interdependent areas intricately linked through resource sharing and circulation systems. These thoughtfully designed systems, such as a water collection and redistribution system, reduce the park’s dependence on the local area’s natural resources as well as educate the public about natural ecological processes and sustainable practices.

Confluence Park (Schematic Design) | San Antonio, Texas,
Stud Wall
West Hollywood, California
2014

Stud Wall
Ball-Nogues Studio

2014

The owners of the Huxley Apartments at Fountain and La Brea commissioned this artwork for a new courtyard adjacent to the sidewalk on La Brea Avenue. Our first impulse was to suspend a structure over the courtyard that was self-referential, of a dramatically different language than the Huxley building itself.  Stud Wall takes cues from a pair of sources, our previous work entitled Cradle in Santa Monica and leather biker jackets, which owners customize with assortments of studs, spikes and other ornaments.  

These spiky jackets have served as emblems of cool masculinity and personal liberty since the ‘50’s. Greaser, motorcyclist, gay and music subcultures (punks, goths, metalheads, rivetheads), have worn black leather for protective and often fashionable reasons, occasionally with the intention to create an intimidating appearance.  Each of these subcultures has been associated with West Hollywood at one time or another.

We studied the details of several jackets, in particular the arrangement of studs relative to leather panels of the garments themselves.  While many of the patterns followed the contours of the panels they inhabited, we were more drawn to those that operated independent of the substrate.  These patterns are not relegated to the boundary of the leather panels therefore becoming a kind of layer, superimposed over the jacket.

We added such a layer of studs to crumpled surface of the installation, imbuing a unique geometry over that of the ¼” stainless steel plates into which they are inserted.  The studs also serve a structural purpose – by providing extra weight to the structure. Contemporary design abhors weight. It is customary for designers to view lightness as an ideal quality.  That this project was a kind of hovering surface, subject to uplift caused by wind loads, demanded that it be as heavy as possible. So, we added the studs to increase its weight to nearly 4000 pounds.

As we developed the design, and as the engineers asked that more and more weight be added, the stud layer took on an increasingly aggressive look. The result, Stud Wall, seemed like it might hurt someone were they to come to close. The Huxley wears it well.
 

Stud Wall | West Hollywood, California, 2014
Air Garden
Bradley West Terminal, Los Angeles International Airport
2014
 | VIDEO

Air Garden
Ball-Nogues Studio


The Air Garden embodies the qualities of light and space that are unique to Los Angeles. Like the city itself, it does not have a distinct beginning or end; inside or outside; back or front. It is both an object and an atmosphere. Its appearance is not static as it is predicated on changing quality of light in the north light well at any hour of the day.  The Air Garden is a serene moment amidst the hectic action and movement within the airport.  LAX is a city among cities that envelops the globe, networked through a system of concourses, gates, terminals and connecting flights; it is an international metropolis of movement. The Air Garden is a pause within this movement; a place for reflection and repose, an opportunity for the traveler to daydream. Within the confines of passport kiosks, security checkpoints, ticket counters, and other forms surveillance and control, it is our aim for this work to engender a sense of freedom


Like most gardens, it cannot be comprehended from a single point of view; and by participating in the ambulatory movement customary to the airport experience; it is inherently linked to the trajectory of one’s journey through the City of Cities. Its components are made of gestural volumes of color hovering within an immense array of catenaries.  These voluminous brush strokes on a translucent three dimensional canvas dissolve into washes of color then snap back into clear strokes with one’s changing perspective. They might be perceived as episodes forming an inconclusive riddle without a definitive resolution even after the complete cycle of one’s journey.  Our hope is that the Air Garden procures a mental clearing for the voyager that is a respite from the pressures of travel and produce a felicitous condition for daydreaming.


 The work is like a cloud inside the light well, which can be clearly described using a term from chemistry: suspension. A suspension is a heterogeneous fluid or gas with solid particles more or less evenly dispersed within in it.  It is not opaque but more like a ubiquitous fog permeating the space.  Therefore, the Air Garden will not obstruct the viewers’ perspective through the light well nor into the surrounding spaces that showcase the human activities of the airport.  While the environment is interspersed with the metallic bead chain catenaries, it is also constructed from the negative space between the catenaries; sight extends into and throughout the building.


When developing the color composition of Air Garden we looked at the organization inherent in the architecture.  We intend to shape color in three dimensions to echo the architectural order of the Bradley West Terminal by mimicking the shadows cast onto the array of catenaries by the structure members of the light well itself.  We chose two dates at which to cast the shadows, the summer solstice and the vernal equinox.


To better understand the effectiveness of the hovering colored forms within the Air Garden we applied our findings from precursory research on theories of perception.  Testing in Gestalt psychology has proven that our mind puts together what is not explicitly present and imposes meaning and structure on visual input.  These theories support our assumption that the traveler will mentally connect the architectural order of the building across the void of the light well by way of color painted onto the cloud of bead chain. For this reason, we are able to achieve a visual connection without having to precisely replicate the geometry of the building but rather to imply its presence.  


The reflective qualities of the bead chain, that form the catenaries, create a sense of vastness through the play of light in space.  Each one is a miniature convex mirror, capturing light from all corners of the space as well as from the adjacent balls.  The project evokes a sense of immensity through this reflective dance of color and light.  The consistent repetition of highlights on each bead produces a condition of being ensconced in a place that is both proximate and seemingly vast.
Los Angeles is a region full of creative opportunity and innovation; Air Garden represents these characteristics.  Here, creative economies thrive.  The real meets the unreal and Air Garden is a metaphor for this through its presence as both painted gesture and atmosphere.  Much like the infinite space in a traveler’s momentary lucid daydream, Los Angeles is a boundless expanse.  Our city seems limitless when coasting its highway’s smooth curves that beautifully pattern its extensive landscape with measured grace and elegance.  Air Garden embodies the sublime qualities of the utopian paradise we call home, Los Angeles.


Credits:
Artist and Designer: Ball-Nogues Studio
Commissioning Agency: City of Los Angeles
through its Department of Cultural Affairs and its Department of Airports

Fabricator: Ball-Nogues Studio
Structural Engineer: Buro Happold , Los Angeles
Custom Software: Pylon Technical
Rigging: LA Propoint

Air Garden | Bradley West Terminal, Los Angeles International Airport , 2014
Radiant Body Globs installation - Figure Head, Come to Mama, and Grandpa Lost his Cane
Museum of Contemporary Art, Santa Barbara, CA
2014

Created for the Exhibition Almost Anything Goes: Architecture and Inclusivity at the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara

On view: January 5 – March 16, 2014

 

Wall Text:

The boundaries between cultural disciplines are not easy to cross. A guy who studies sculpture and goes on to create furniture will probably never see his work in the MoMA design collection. An architect who refers to her installations as “art” will undoubtedly provoke derision from the ranks within the fine arts academy.

In determining a title for this installation, one reason Radiant came to mind is because the figures illuminate the space within which they are situated. Body seemed appropriate because we explored the human figure; and Glob because we developed a process for producing the work in paper pulp – formless oatmeal-like goo commonly used to make protective packaging for consumer products.

Each of the three figures in the Radiant Body Globs installation—Figure Head, Come to Mama, and Grandpa Lost his Cane—can be displayed as part of the installation or individually as a sculpture or lamp.
 

Principals in Charge: Gaston Nogues, Benjamin Ball

Project Manager: Mora Nabi

Project Team: Mora Nabi, Christine Forster-Jones, Aaron Goldman

Radiant Body Globs installation - Figure Head, Come to Mama, and Grandpa Lost his Cane | Museum of Contemporary Art, Santa Barbara, CA, 2014
Transamerica
Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, NV
2013
 | VIDEO

The Nevada Museum of Art commissioned Ball-Nogues to create an interpretation of the Transamerica building for the exhibition Modernist Maverick: The Architecture of William L. Pereira

July 27, 2013 - October 13, 2013

This exhibition surveys the architecture, urban planning, and design work of American architect William L. Pereira through images, models, drawings, and plans. The exhibition re-examines the modest spaces he created early in his career and the large-scale structures for which he is largely remembered.

The structures Pereira designed were far-flung and often large in scale, ranging from San Francisco’s iconic Transamerica Tower to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the University of California, San Diego Geisel Library to the master plan for California’s Irvine Ranch and the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX); Marineland of the Pacific to Cape Canaveral; a master plan for Doha—the capital city of Qatar—to the National Medical Center of Iran. Pereira became the first architect for the University of California system and master planned and designed many of the buildings for the University of California, Irvine.

The purpose of the project is to frame Pereira’s practice within the histories of architectural modernism and southern California in the mid-twentieth century. Because Pereira’s career parallels the arc of modern architecture and its focus on iconic form, the evolution and trajectory of his work sheds light on the closing window of the modern movement.

 

Project statistics:

17,000’ of ball chain which is equivalent to about 3.25 miles

total mass 1150 pounds

Principals and Designers in Charge: Gaston Nogues and Benjamin Ball

Project Manager: Daniel Berlin

Project Team: Andy Fastman, James Jones, Christine Forster-Jones, Allison Myers, Raphael Moguel, Bhumi Patel, Emma Helgerson, Marissa Ritchen, Allison Porterfield, Richy Garcia, Caroline Duncan

Video courtesy of the Nevada Museum of Art and Mike Henderson Videographer, ArborGlyph

Transamerica | Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, NV, 2013
Euphony
Music City Center, Nashville, Tennessee
2013

Catenary stainless steel ball chains descent dramatically from a suspended elliptical ring beam and then return skyward on a new path forming two shells of pattern and color. We produced a translucent three-dimensional painting, fabricated with a custom digital cutting machine. Depending on the viewer's vantage point, the 1141 multi-colored chains of Euphony may appear as a hard-edged geometric form or blur to a vapor-like visual composition.

Materials: stainless steel ball chain, steel tube, baked enamel finish

Total weight of the artwork (2,100 lbs. ) and ring beam (1,400 lbs.) is 3,500 lbs.

Euphony amplifies aesthetics of light, reflection and color creating a visual spectacle and physical sensation in a public space. 25 miles of stainless steel chain are attached to a 30’ x 8’  steel ring beam that is suspended 3’ from ceiling. Euphony hangs 106’ and 10’ 11” above first level floor.
 

 

Principals in Charge: Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues

Project Manager: James Jones

Project Team: Caroline Duncan, Richy Garcia, Emma Helgerson, Christine-Forster Jones, Allison Myers, Mora Nabi, Adam Parkhurst, Bhumi Patel, Allison Porterfield, Marissa Ritchen

Custom Software Design: Pylon Technical

Structural Engineer: Buro Happold, Los Angeles. Frank Reppi lead engineer.

Euphony | Music City Center, Nashville, Tennessee, 2013
K.A.M.P. (Kids’ Art Museum Project)
Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA
2013

Using standard sheets of paper as our raw material, we made a pulp slurry in a blender. We then added colorant to the slurry to develop a palette. The colored pulp was molded into face-like forms using a pre-cut platen shaped like a head. The shapes were ironed to dry. The result might be understood as a crazy mask that the kids (and kids at heart) took home.

From the Hammer's Event Text:

On May 5th, 2013 the Hammer Museum hosted its fourth annual K.A.M.P. (Kids’ Art Museum Project), an event imagined by artists for children of all ages. Painters, sculptors, architects, and creative types of all kinds lead inventive hands-on workshops in the carefree atmosphere of the Hammer Museum courtyard. All K.A.M.P. proceeds support the Museum¹s growing Hammer Kids public programming. 

Unlike other family events, K.A.M.P. provided extraordinary access and experiences for kids and their families with renowned Los Angeles artists, many of whom have been the subject of exhibitions at the Hammer Museum or are represented in the Hammer Contemporary Art Collection. This year's participating artists were: Edgar Arceneaux, Benjamin Ball & Gaston Nogues, Cayetano Ferrer, Mark Hagen, Pearl Hsiung, Vishal Jugdeo, Glenn Kaino, T. Kelly Mason, Rita McBride & Glen Rubsamen, Ruben Ochoa, Monique Prieto & Michael Webster, Retna, Fatima Robinson, Ry Rocklen, Anila Rubiku, Brian Sharp, Adam Silverman, John Sonsini, Jennifer Steinkamp, and Oscar Tuazon.    

K.A.M.P. also celebrated reading with Story Time in the Permanent Collection galleries. Celebrity guests engaged families as they read from their favorite children’s books and share exciting stories. Book readings for this year were presented by Dianna Agron, James Van Der Beek, Julie Bowen, and Jodie Foster. K.A.M.P. is a chance for the Hammer’s cultural patrons to share their love of contemporary art with their children.   

K.A.M.P. (Kids’ Art Museum Project) | Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA, 2013
Music Legs Glob Lamps
2012

 For the Music Legs Glob Lamp we adapted materials and processes commonly used in the mass production of packaging to yield a series of lamps. Each lamp is a unique sculptural object. Paper pulp forms an integrated structure and skin, such that the only non-biodegradable components are the bulb housing and cord. A variant of our earlier Glob Lamp 01, which resembles the iconic head of a famous cartoon mouse or an abstraction of male or female anatomy, this series has a wider range of potential shapes. As with the subjective interpretation of clouds, the viewer can read different meanings in the forms of each lamp. Because of the unique fabrication process, no single lamp can be exactly reproduced.

Music Legs Glob Lamps 2012
Waterline
San Diego County Operations Center. San Diego, California
2012
 | VIDEO

Waterline resembles a thickened atmosphere of ghostly waves within the double high entryway of Building 204. It is neither solid nor emptiness but has qualities of both. Seventeen thousand segments of painted stainless steel ball chain, totaling over 10 miles in length make up this work. By integrating digital computation with hand production techniques, Ball-Nogues meticulously combined the segments to form an array of “catenaries” that span the ceiling. In mathematics, a catenary is the shape of a curve formed by a chain hanging between two points.

 

Composed of seven colors, the chains make an intricate system of overlapping curves. The result suggests a three-dimensional abstract painting that looks differently depending on one’s vantage point. From one angle, the viewer sees hard-edged geometric shapes in distinct color; from another angle, she sees the same colors blurred to make a vapor-like composition.

 

In naval engineering, the term "waterline" refers to the contour made by the hull of a ship meeting water. This Ball-Nogues installation includes a field of magenta color that is parallel to the ground plane catenaries. Analogous to a waterline, this feature becomes reference for gauging the discrepancies between the “theoretical” models generated within the computer and the physical reality of the installation constructed from the data output by the computer.

 

Principals in Charge: Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues

Project Management: Benjamin Jenett

Project Team: James Jones, Allison Porterfield, Anirudh Dhawan, Sonali Patel, Melissah Bridge, Edwin Cho, Julian Rui Hwang, H Clark, Mora Nabi, R.J. Tripodi

 

Structural Engineering Consultants: Buro Happold, Los Angeles. 

Custom Software Design: Pylon Technical

 
Waterline | San Diego County Operations Center. San Diego, California, 2012
Yevrus 1, Negative Impression
Southern California Institute of Architecture Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2012

 An assemblage of cast paper imprints derived from non-architectural objects, Yevrus 1, Negative Impression is a disposable architecture of literal references. It calls into question the contemporary architectural vogue for software generated form, complexity and abstraction. A 1973 Volkswagen Beetle and a late 1970’s open top speedboat were cast multiple times in recycled paper pulp and then united to make a strong structural whole. Visitors to the Gallery can occupy a mock tanning booth formed from the negative spaces left by the artifacts.

With Negative Impression, Ball and Nogues pose the question, “can we adapt everyday objects as tools for fabrication and generators of both architectural space and decoration?”

The project inverts and reworks some of the methods Bruce Nauman employed in making the sculpture A Cast of the Space Under My Chair in1965. Where Nauman makes a solid cast directly from a negative space found in the real world, Ball-Nogues makes a negative cast directly from a solid object and then expands the process to yield an architectural system of panels that can be arranged according to functional demands and aesthetic whimsy.

Prior to selecting the Beetle and speedboat, the designers considered several iconic relics gleaned from the Los Angeles suburban-scape including a 19-foot tall roadside “Muffler Man” and a classic kidney bean swimming pool. To study each objects feasibility for use in the project, the team explored the structural possibilities of its form, evaluated its potential to become a heated mold, and then tested a proprietary pulp casting process on it. Once chosen, the object was then digitally scanned in three dimensions. The scan data provided an accurate model of the object that reflected its idiosyncrasies in minute detail. The data was then used for studying the arrangement of spaces and determining how each shape might be divided into panels and unified within the structural whole.

The designers call this integrated design and production process “Yevrus”—the word “Survey” spelled backwards. In this project, the first in a series of Yevrus experiments; Ball-Nogues rethink conventional uses for scanning and surveying equipment and explore its potential within architectural design methodologies. No longer a simple tool for construction and engineering, the survey is a means for “finding” form, seeking structural stability, and realizing iconic meaning.

Long considered disposable, paper has traditionally played only a supporting roll for architecture. As a medium for drawings, models, and memos, it assists in the process of design. Origami notwithstanding, designers have recently begun to recognize paper’s potential for three-dimensional products and architectural building systems. Paper is also potentially more sustainable than other materials because it is made from a renewable resource making it well suited for provisional structures. 

Ball-Nogues Studio: Benjamin Ball, Gaston Nogues, Benjamin Jenett, Allison Porterfield, Anirudh Dhawan, Melissah Bridge, Mora Nabi, Edwin Cho

Project Manager: James Jones

SCI-Arc Student Workshop Team: Sonali Patel, H Clark, Julian Rui Huang, Roger Cortes, Edwin Nourian, Vanessa Teng, Manori Sumanasignhe, Chung Ming Lam, Chi Hang Lo, Casey Benito, Duygun Inal, Hector Campagna, Cristen Dawson, Gyoung Min Ko, Jonathan Schnure, Francisco Movre, Pablo Osorio, Amir Hababiolaolalai 

Other contributors: Forester Rudolf, Kristen Loheed

Digital Scans and Consulting: ScanLAB Projects

Structural Consultants: Buro Happold, Los Angeles.

Special thanks to Eric Kim for letting us use his pool.

Yevrus 1, Negative Impression | Southern California Institute of Architecture Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, 2012
Pavillon Speciale
Ecole Speciale d'Architecture, Paris, France
2012

 The Pavillon Spéciale is an installation designed and built by students of the Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture under the direction of Ball-Nogues Studio. The installation can be arched and curled at full scale to form different types of space befitting the university’s summer program. The installation creates a sense of place while providing a respite from the sun and rain.

The pavilion is a unique structure. In architecture terminology, the phrase that describes a system whose form is derived from the deformation of its materials under force is “form active.” This type of structure is difficult to study using software. It often requires architects to explore their designs by testing full-scale mock-ups, and using that empirical information to help inform the process of digital modeling, which is studied in the studio rather than in the field. Students engaged in this iterative design process with Ball-Nogues.

The structure is comprised of approximately 200 “cells”, each made from locally sourced plastic tubing bent and curled in custom jigs designed and constructed by students.  To provide shade, each cell has locally sourced fabric membrane spanning between the tubes. The cell module is a very effective way of constructing a temporary structure: each can be transported as a flat unit and rapidly assembled on site; when it is time for the structure to come down, dismantling and transportation to a new site is easy.

 

project info:

location: ecole spéciale d'architecture 
curator pavillon speciale: matteo cainer
project: ball-nogues studio
studio assistant: baptiste bonijoly 

ecole spéciale students: antoniotti bruno, bellanger alexandra, bennis selim, boinot julien, bruel laura, budin olivier, cargill maxime,
claudet ariel de lacvivier matthieu, delalande nicolas, dubois nina, ducroux hubert, fishler raphael, fournier adrien, haudrechy felix, hudson leo, lambert pierre, 
liagre victoire, maleyrat jean, merle daubigne ariane, mougel raphael, noury pola, pradeau pauline, seguin pauline, veryra camille and wertheimer astrid

 

Description of the competion:

The Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture enters its 2nd edition of the “Pavillon Spéciale”, an annual spring architectural series that gives young emerging architects the opportunity to build with students, a temporary project in the heart of Paris. Once a year from June to October, The Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture will become an international theatre for architectural experimentation, making it unique in its kind. The timescale (maximum of 3 months from invitation to completion) will provide a unique model that presents a strong synergy between architecture and education and with talks before during and after construction, it will become a contemporary platform for architects, students and the city itself.

The “Pavillon Spéciale” program is curated by Matteo Cainer. Conceived by the later in the summer of 2010, it is an ongoing programme of temporary structures by emerging international architects. The series is unique worldwide because it not only presents the work of an international architect or design team, but is an on site collaboration with a team of students from the Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture. Each year a different pavilion will be sited on the school’s inner courtyard, and for five months there will be a programme of public talks, events, performances that will take place in and around the Pavilion.   

Pavillon Speciale | Ecole Speciale d'Architecture, Paris, France, 2012
Talus Dome
Quesnell Bridge/Whitemud Freeway, Edmonton, Alberta
2011

Talus Dome is both a sculpture in the landscape and a mirror to the landscape.  It reflects the sky, the weather and the river of cars that pass by.   The hollowed dome is part of a holistic landscape where nature and culture are inextricably linked; a unity that belies our dualistic distinctions. The overall shape was developed from our investigation into the geological engineering concept - “angle of repose”, the natural inclination that an aggregated material assumes when dropped into a pile from one point.  In making a shape determined by natural phenomena, we aim to further blur the distinction between the notions of objective, naturally occurring reality and that reality which is culturally constructed through subjective experience.
 

Talus Dome is an earthwork fashioned from a non-earth work material; an aggregation of steel spheres. It might be perceived as a fragment of synthetic nature that emerges from the ground or a remnant of the process of constructing the bridge itself. Comprised of approximately 900 stainless steel spheres that together assume the shape of an abstracted pile or mound, it is void in the center rather than solid.  It also has spaces and gaps between the spheres, leaving the viewer to complete the shape with her mind’s eye while enabling her to see between the spheres and through the pile. The surrounding landscape is reflected within each of the spheres.  This duality contributes to the playful quality of the work.  In one way, the work becomes part of the environment through mimicry and reflection, however, in the same spatial gesture, the work is artifice by way of its transparency and the empty cavity within it.
 

Talus Dome embodies nature in two ways.  One, because its shape quite literally suggests natural features in the landscape of the Edmonton region such talus cones below river bluffs, piles of gravel on construction sites, snow drifts, etc. Two, because, in engineering terms, the domed form is a parabolic shell structure where each individual sphere settles into a gravity induced, self-organized relationship to its neighbors.  We also employed a “form finding” methodology to determine the overall shape of the dome. This process is akin to the one employed by architect Antonio Gaudi for his Sagrada Familia in Barcelona to yield shapes that have an optimal level of structural stability but use minimal amounts of material. The dome is structurally sound by virtue of its geometry rather than the mass of its materials; it is highly efficient.  

 

Conversely, the surface of Talus Dome takes on different colors with the changing seasons and hours of the day as it literally reflects its surroundings. Under certain lighting conditions, it has a strong visual presence along the Drive, and at others, it visually recedes to blend into the scenery.  Its visual quality is not static, and it therefore creates an appealing tension between the permanence that it exhibits and aims to symbolize, and its changeable appearance that suggests the mutability of nature.


Talus Dome commemorates the unique beauty of Edmonton and the surrounding region while reminding us of man’s agency within it. We aim to call to mind the breathtaking vistas along the North Saskatchewan River while creating a landmark for bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists.  Unlike the mistake that was made by the City of Los Angeles when it paved over the Los Angeles River in the early 20th Century, Edmonton has woven the Alberta landscape through the city itself in the form of the River; it has allowed the River and its flood plains to remain pristine and idyllic while the City develops.  Talus Dome is an evocative emblem of this actuality and a celebration of the coexistence of human kind with the natural landscape along Whitemud Drive - a river of another kind.

 

Principals and Designers in Charge: Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues

Project Manager: James Jones

Project Team: Karla Castillo, Deborah Chang, Tyler Crain, Constantina Dendramis, Jessica DeVries, Isabel Francoy Albert, Julieta Gil, Benjamin Jenett, James Jones, Ayodh Kamath, Alison Kung, Luciana Martinez, Nicolas Pappas, Allison Porterfield, Samantha Rose, Ron Shvartsman, Caroline Smith, Alejandra Sotelo, Jess Thomas, Julianne Weiss, Evan Wiskup.

Custom Software Design: Pylon Technical

Structural Engineer: Buro Happold, Los Angeles

Talus Dome | Quesnell Bridge/Whitemud Freeway, Edmonton, Alberta, 2011
Yucca Crater
Near 29 Palms, California
2011
 | VIDEO

Some thoughts on Yucca Crater –

Located in the barren desert near Joshua Tree National Park, 15 miles from the nearest human settlement, Yucca Crater is a synthetic earthwork that doubled as a recreational amenity during High Desert Test Sites on October 15 & 16, 2011. High Desert Test Sites generates physical and conceptual spaces for art exploring the intersections between contemporary art and life at large. After the event, Yucca Crater was abandoned to the entropic forces of the landscape.

The work resembles a basin that stands 30 feet from rim to low point and is depressed 10 feet into the earth. Rock climbing holds mounted on the interior allow visitors to descend into a deep pool of salt water.

Yucca Crater expands on concepts borrowed from land art, incorporating the prospect of the abandoned suburban swimming pools and ramshackle homestead dwellings scattered across the Mojave. Ball Nogues have re-imagined these interventions in the landscape through a method of production where the tools of fabrication transform to be become objects for display in their own right. The rough plywood structure of Yucca Crater was originally the formwork used to construct another Ball-Nogues work, Talus Dome, in which more than 900 boulder-sized polished metal spheres were assembled to appear as a monumental pile of gravel. The two projects were “cross-designed” such that the method of production used in the first (Talus Dome) has become the central aesthetic for the second (Yucca Crater).

This approach integrates concept, aesthetics, a social event and production, inviting viewers to reconsider their relationship to art by-products while repositioning them within an alternative economic and geographic domain.

This project was made possible with the support of United States Artists Projects.

 

Desiners and Principals in Charge: Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues

Project Manager: Benjamin Jenett

Project Team: Karla Castillo, Deborah Chang, Tyler Crain, Constantina Dendramis, Jessica DeVries, Julieta Gil, James Jones, Isabel Francoy Albert, Luciana Martinez, Nicolas Pappas, Allison Porterfield, Samantha Rose, Ron Shvartsman, Caroline Smith, Alejandra Sotelo, Jess Thomas, Julianne Weiss, Evan Wiskup.

Structural Engineer: Buro Happold, Los Angeles.

Yucca Crater | Near 29 Palms, California, 2011
Veil
10th and Mission Stair Tower, San Francisco, CA
2011
 | VIDEO

The 10th and Mission stair tower forms an architectural gesture that has a high degree of visibility along Mission and surrounding streets: its prominence makes it a beacon in the City.  

Veil is a cascading diaphanous curtain attached to the inside of the tower's glass wall system. Cascades of color and form migrate from the bottom of the tower to the top. The transparent tower faces south permitting light to pass through it on three sides while the veil - made of refractive glass beads - produces the effect of cathedral windows by transforming the color of sunlight to create complex light patterns that strike the sidewalk and the building itself while at night, the work emits has a gentle glowing presence.

Veil is not a fabric in the conventional sense: it is an intricate array of hanging chains made of transparent colored beads threaded through thin cables. When a chain is hung from two points it forms a "catenary." A catenary is not an arbitrary shape, it is a fundamental form in nature that is part of our everyday visual landscape: in necklaces and in the telephone and electrical wires that crisscross the city. Because we are using several thousand precisely arrayed catenaries, the combined visual effect will be similar to fabric, however space between the chains that permit views into the stairwell and to the sky beyond.

 

Lead Artists and Designers: Benjamin Ball, Gaston Nogues

Project Management: Jonathan Kitchens, Benjamin Jenett

Project Team: Julieta Gil, James Jones, Ayodh Kamath, Alison Kung, Luciana Martinez, Allison Porterfield, Caroline Smith, Julianne Weiss, Evan Wiskup

Custom Software Development: Pylon Technical

 

   

Veil | 10th and Mission Stair Tower, San Francisco, CA, 2011
Screen
10th and Jessie, Teen Center, Mercy Housing, San Francisco, CA
2011

Screen blends imagery of the human hand with production techniques borrowed from glass jewelry making.

The “catenary” is a basic form in nature: a chain suspended from two points will always make this shape. Long necklaces are catenaries. Screen, which is directly behind the storefront glass, is like hundreds of chain necklaces with individual links made of hand profiles made with colored translucent plastic. The chains continually transform the color of sunlight coming into the Teen Center. The work provides privacy for people within the Center from the busy sidewalk while allowing views of the street from within. Hundreds of different hand shapes link together to make up the chains: sometimes the hands have an open palm, sometimes the fingers are stretched outward, sometimes the fingers curl as if to gently hold an object, sometimes the hands grasp.  Combining the logic of animation with sculpture, the shape of each individual hand is derived from video footage. Arrayed in sequences, the hands produce the impression of human gestures.

 

Lead Artists and Designers: Benjamin Ball, Gaston Nogues

Project Management: Jonathan Kitchens, Benjamin Jenett

Project Team: Julieta Gil, James Jones, Ayodh Kamath, Alison Kung, Luciana Martinez, Allison Porterfield, Rachel Shillander, Caroline Smith, Julianne Weiss, Evan Wiskup

Custom Software Development: Pylon Technical

Screen | 10th and Jessie, Teen Center, Mercy Housing, San Francisco, CA , 2011
Cloud
10th and Mission Senior Center, Mercy Housing, San Francisco, CA
2010
 | VIDEO

For Cloud, we explored the universal symbol of the human hand.

The “catenary” is a basic form in nature: a chain suspended from two points will always make this beautiful shape. Antonio Gaudi used the catenary as a means of studying the forms in his Sagrada Familia Cathedral of Barcelona. Our project, located in the lobby space of the new Senior Center at 9th and Jessie Streets in San Francisco, is comprised of more than 300 suspended chains (catenaries); each link in the chains is a hand. There are many different hands that make up the chains: sometimes the hands have an open palm, sometimes the fingers are stretched outward, sometimes the fingers curl as if to gently hold an object, sometimes the hands grasp one another. Combining the logic of animation with sculpture, the shape of each individual hand is derived from video footage. Arrayed in sequences, the hands produce the impression of human gestures.

 

Lead Artists and Designers: Benjamin Ball, Gaston Nogues

Project Management: Jonathan Kitchens

Project Team: Benjamin Jenett, James Jones, Ayodh Kamath, Alison Kung, Jielu Lu, Lawrence Shanks, Rachel Shillander, Ron Shvartsman.

Custom Software Development: Pylon Technical

Cloud | 10th and Mission Senior Center, Mercy Housing, San Francisco, CA , 2010
Cradle
Santa Monica, CA
2010

Commissioned by the City of Santa Monica, Cradle is situated on the exterior wall of a parking structure at a shopping mall – originally designed by Frank Gehry.  The site is near the beach, and is heavily trafficked by tourists on foot and in automobiles. An aggregation of mirror polished stainless steel spheres, the sculpture functions structurally like an enormous Newton’s Cradle - the ubiquitous toy found on the desktops of corporate executives in Hollywood films. Each ball is suspended by a cable from a point on the wall and locked in position by a combination of gravity and neighboring balls. The whole array reflects distorted images of passersby.

 

Aside from the Newton’s Cradle reference, we wanted the overall shape to elicit things that we thought might be slightly provocative when inserted into the glitzy Santa Monica urban landscape.  On one hand the installation resembles a big banana hammock (the type worn by unashamed men at the beach) and on the other it suggests the female reproductive system. Sometimes we think of it as a giant fly eye with hundreds of little lenses and at others its like sea foam or coral. Sometimes it resembles an urban scaled wall sconce and at others, a kind of imaginary awning for an invisible storefront. Regardless of what it looks like, it was an opportunity to develop a new kind of building system.

 

Cradle is as much a sculpture as it is an approach to making experimental structure in the post-digital era. We were interested in exploring ways of producing large scaled self-organizing structures. Cradle is comprised of an “informal” arrangement of parts; the relationship between each cannot be accurately modeled with digital software. The work is, however, an outgrowth of digital technology.

 

A key technical concept for Cradle is “sphere packing” – the phenomenon where multiple balls squeezed together and self organize under the effect of gravity, a process we could only approximate, at best, using computer modeling. Software was useful for visualizing Cradle and for designing the overall shape of the formwork used to make it but not for predicting where the spheres positioned themselves in the physical world.

 

The fabrication process was a bit like the process of slip casting ceramics except instead of pouring ceramic slip into a mold we “poured” hundreds of spheres.  To our knowledge, this was the first time this technique has been used.

 

Principals in Charge: Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues

Project Manager and Lead Fabricator: James Jones

Custom Software Design: Ayodh Kamath

Project Team: Benjamin Jennett, Rachel Shillander, Alison Kung, Daniel Morrison, Jielu Lu, Amador Saucedo, Ron Shvartsman, Lawerance Shanks, Norma Silva, Andrew Lyon, Tim Peeters, Will Trossell

Structural Engineer: Buro Happold, Los Angeles. Matthew Melnyk lead engineer. Kurt Komraus

Cradle | Santa Monica, CA, 2010
Table Cloth for the Courtyard at Schoenberg Hall
Herb Alpert School of Music - Schoenberg Hall Courtyard, University of California, Los Angeles
2010

Table Cloth is a new performance space in the courtyard of Schoenberg Hall at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music in Los Angeles. We designed and fabricated the the installation. The project is a result of ongoing research into the reuse of temporary structures and installations.

A collaboration between the UCLA Department of Architecture and Urban Design, the Herb Alpert School of Music, and the UCLA Design Media Arts; Table Cloth serves as an integrated set piece, backdrop, and seating area for student musical performance and everyday social interaction.  It is made of hundreds of individual low, coffee-style tables and three legged stools.   Each of these household items is a unique product (no two are alike), fabricated specifically for the installation by Ball Nogues. The public can take home the tables and stools after the run of the installation. The tables and stools link together collectively to form a “fabric” that hangs from the east wall of the courtyard. When the Table Cloth meets the ground, it unrolls to form an intimate “in the round” performance area. Visitors can sit on the tables and stools within this area.

“Tables are places for social interaction,” explains Ball-Nogues. “Dining tables, specifically, facilitate organization and communication within the typical American home. We see this project like the cloth adorning a dining table; however, at Schoenberg it will adorn the courtyard, an important social hub, and will facilitate community at the scale of the University.”

Used for a variety of activities, from musical practice to performance, dance to lectures, and from casual conversations to academic discussions; it will embellish the courtyard throughout the summer of 2010. Because of the work's size and the materials used, its presence within the space helps to reduce reverberation and alter other acoustical phenomena.

The processes of designing manufacturing, assembling, and dismantling the performance space are examples of a unique design and manufacturing methodology that moves beyond and constructively critiques the three “R’s” of sustainability – recycling, reuse, and repurposing, processes that typically down-cycle material into less valuable states. After the structure has served its function as a performance space, the components comprising the installation will be dismantled to become smaller scaled household commodities, - tables and seating. This process, referred to as “Cross Manufacturing” by Ball-Nogues, is an integrated design and manufacturing strategy that harnesses digital computation and fabrication technologies to make architectural scaled installations that become collections of smaller scaled products. The items will be immediately available and given away as consumer goods, once the installation is dismantled. This approach moves beyond recycling and reuse 

By using a consumer good as its basic building block, the project expands and critiques notions of “green" architecture. As a visual concept, the installation serves as a symbolic gesture of sustainability and a poetic reminder that the buildings and temporary pavilions we construct are impermanent: frozen moments in an ongoing flow of products and materials. Outside of its environmental considerations, the Table Cloth dramatically re-contextualizes consumer products - symbols of mass consumption and standardization– into alternative gestures of hope and one of a kind manufacturing. 

Table Cloth will be the site of performances hosted by the Herb Alpert School of Music through the summer of 2010. Please see the Herb Alpert School of Music Website to confirm dates and start times. 

Project Theory:

Spatial installations represent a growing phenomenon within our culture. There is a new demand for “instant” architecture.  We see this in entire environments which become advertisements, like subway platforms; stage sets; window displays; and event spectacles.  They have become forums for the production of architecturally scaled structures and spaces that exist for only a limited period. Our installation explores the making of structures which produce very little waste when their usefulness as architecture is complete. While there is an increasing interest among artists architects in recycling and repurposing their urban scaled creations, our project moves beyond this approach to consider life cycle through the development of a "cross manufacturing" strategy. Cross manufacturing is a design and production approach that considers objects as part of a continuum. After the structure has served its use as a performance space, the components comprising the installation will be dismantled to become smaller scaled commodities, immediately available as coveted products - in this case tables and seating. Unlike recycling, which down-cycles material into a less valuable state, this scenario foresees small products made from the parts of a larger product (the installation itself).

“Diversified series” is a fitting description for the resulting products rather than the “standardized series” that typically results from a mass production approach. Each of the tables and seating elements will be fabricated using industrial methods but will still be unique, contrasting the anonymity inherent in most industrially manufactured goods. At the end of the life of the installation, the approximately 500 tables and stools, no two alike, will be given away to the UCLA community.

By using a consumer good as its basic building block, the project expands and critiques notions of “green" architecture. As a visual concept, the installation serves as a symbolic gesture of sustainability and a poetic reminder that the buildings and pavilions we construct although seemingly timeless, are actually impermanent: frozen moments in an ongoing flow of products and materials. Outside of its environmental commentary, the installation dramatically re-contextualizes consumer products - symbols of mass consumption and standardization– into alternative gestures of hope and one of a kind manufacturing.

It is made possible by generous support from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and the UCLA Arts Initiative.

Principles in Charge: Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues

Structural engineering and analysis by Buro Happold Los Angeles. Matthew Melnyk lead engineer

Software Development: Ayodh Kamath

Project Team: Benjamin Jenett, James Jones, Jonathan Kitchens, Alison Kung, Deborah Lehman, Brian Schirk, Rachel Shillander

Table Cloth for the Courtyard at Schoenberg Hall | Herb Alpert School of Music - Schoenberg Hall Courtyard, University of California, Los Angeles, 2010
Double Back-to-Basics
LACMA Gallery at Charles W. White School, Los Angeles, CA
2010

Created for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) off-site gallery at the Charles W. White School, Double Back-to-Basics is comprised of brightly colored letters constructed using paper and assembled in a form suggestive of a monumental arch scaled to the size of a child. Viewed from the gallery entrance, the monument has characteristics of a wall; when seen from the opposite side it resembles a heap or pile - a primitive architectural structure and the most rudimentary form of monument. The letters are the cousins of the magnetized refrigerator variety used to teach children written language. Here, the characters instruct but they also serve as bricks, the most elemental components of architecture. Unlike bricks made of clay, which are solid and heavy, these bricks are hollow and lightweight -- in structural terminology they are “shells.” Using a fabrication process developed by Ball Nogues, the letters were formed of recycled paper pulp then colored with natural dyes and infused with wildflower seeds; repurposing what was once waste while generating new life in the form of flora. Rather than conceiving the work as an unchanging installation, the designers view it as a continuum -- from unformed material to the constructed monument to dismantling and beyond. When the project is taken down after six months, students will be able to create their own flower gardens using the refuse from the original structure.

 

The letter is the fundamental unit of written language; the brick is the fundamental unit of architecture, the seed is the fundamental unit of life. Double Back to Basics is a monument to these elements. It is a monument that changes form from stasis to dispersion into the urban environment: its disappearance is as essential as its presence. Double Back-to-Basics is a monument to transformation.

Project Team: Benjamin Ball, Tyler Crain, Martina Dolejsova, Jonathan Kitchens, Alison Kung, Hannes Langguth, Deborah Lehman, Gaston Nogues, Allison Porterfield, Rachel Shillander, Julianne Weiss

Double Back-to-Basics | LACMA Gallery at Charles W. White School, Los Angeles, CA, 2010
Glob Lamp 1
2010

A departure from the typical fabrication of light fixtures, the Glob Lamp takes a minimal approach in its materiality. Constructed solely of sprayed vellum pulp, the Glob's only hardware serves as the lamp housing. In its form, one may read the bulbous silhouette in several ways: as the iconic shape of a Mickey Mouse balloon or, ironically and conversely, as male or female anatomy.  The figure stands upright as an integration of structure and skin and has initiated a new material and fabrication method for our work. The project spurred and architectural offshoot, an installation for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's Gallery at the Charles White Elementary School.  Additional lamps will be sold through dealers.  

A departure from the typical fabrication of light fixtures, the Glob Lamp takes a minimal approach in its materiality. Constructed solely of sprayed vellum pulp, the Glob's only hardware serves as the lamp housing. In its form, one may read the bulbous silhouette in several ways: as the iconic shape of a Mickey Mouse balloon or, ironically and conversely, as male or female anatomy.  This inflated figure stands upright as an integration of structure and skin and has initiated a new material and fabrication method for our work.

From this, we have spurred an architectural offshoot in an installation for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's Children's Gallery at the Charles White Elementary School.  Additional lamps will be sold through dealers.  

Glob Lamp 1 2010
Contraption for the Production of Cultural Confections
Contemplating the Void: Intervention in the Guggenheim. Guggenheim Museum, New York - with collaboration from Jessica Fleischmann
2010

On the occasion of the Guggenheim Museum's 50th anniversary, the Guggenheim has invited approximately 250 artists, architects, and designers to imagine their dream intervention in Frank Lloyd Wright’s rotunda. A salon-style installation of two-dimensional renderings of their visionary projects will emphasize the rich and diverse range of inspired proposals will take place from February 12 though April 28, 2010.

Serving more one-million visitors annually at the Guggenheim’s New York facility and more than three-million at worldwide at its other facilities, the Guggenheim Museum already presents organized exhibition of precious cultural artifact for the general public’s enjoyment and delectation. These exhibitions, often organized in a linear structure, present the viewer with a complex offering of audio, visual and textural experiences that impart to the visitor a satisfying sense of culture and history. At the end of these exhibitions, visitors are typically directed to the gift shop where they too can acquire weighty tomes and gewgaws which further reinforce the doctrines developed over  the course of the visitor’s experience.

After careful consideration of the Guggenheim Museum spatially and programmatically, Ball Nogues Studio recognized the institution’s unique sequence of inter-connected galleries and ramps as an architectural form well suited for adaptation as an industrial manufacturing assembly line. Seeking to convert the museum’s current cultural production to a more sustainable manufacturing system, Ball Nogues Studio suggests adapting Wright’s masterwork into a contraption for the transformation of raw, organic sugar cane into a delectable candy confection cum art installation and industrial expo that is both easy to eat and delicious. Their proposed re-use is an acknowledgement of the imperative of architects to shape the careful appropriation and preservation of the noted structure while adapting it economically and functionally using new green technologies and systems. That Wright designed the structure, a priori, to suit this pressing, contemporary need is proof enough that form follows function.

Principals in Charge: Benjamin Ball, Gaston Nogues

Project Team: Tim Peeters, Andrew Lyon, Nicole Semenova, Benlloyd Goldstein

Graphic Design Collaboration: Jessica Fleischmann of Still Room

Contraption for the Production of Cultural Confections | Contemplating the Void: Intervention in the Guggenheim. Guggenheim Museum, New York - with collaboration from Jessica Fleischmann, 2010
Gravity's Loom
Indianapolis Museum of Art
2010
 | VIDEO

Press Release by the Indianapolis Museum of Art

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, The Indianapolis Museum of Art today announced that Los Angeles-based Ball-Nogues Studio will create a site-specific, architectural installation as part of the IMA’s Efroymson Family Entrance Pavilion series.  Ball-Nogues Studio’s installation will be on view in the IMA’s main entrance from September 3, 2010 to March 6, 2011.

Bridging the disciplines of art, architecture and design, Ball-Nogues Studio is an integrated design and fabrication practice lead by Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues. The studio will create an immersive installation titled Gravity’s Loom that explores the space and structure of the Efroymson Family Entrance Pavilion.  Gravity’s Loom, part of the artists’ Suspensions series, will be composed of an array of vibrantly colored hanging strings that span the entire pavilion and generate the appearance of a softly spiraling gossamer surface. This surfacewill twist, contort, and spiral downward through the atrium, transforming the architectural space and re-choreographing the flow of visitors to encourage new interactions with the museum. Each string in the installation will hang from two points on the oval perimeter of the Pavilion, forming curves that respond to the distinctive features of the IMA building.

In developing Gravity’s Loom, Ball-Nogues has allowed the properties and limitations of a given material—in this case, string—guide their work. When the array of strings is hung in the Efroymson Family Entrance Pavilion, it will take the shape of an inverted dome through which a patterned color composition will be revealed that represents the artists’ take on Baroque embellishment, Ball and Nogues understand the oval shape of the IMA’s Pavilion to be analogous to the dome of classical Baroque architecture, which historically incorporated surface decoration to blur the distinction between what is architectural, sculptural, and pictorial. The strings of Gravity’s Loom will be painted to represent the imagined plan for a traditional Baroque ceiling pattern—a three dimensional volume that will blur into billows of color and then snap into a focused geometry, depending on the viewer’s vantage point.

“Ball-Nogues’ installation will dramatically re-imagine the Efroymson Family Entrance Pavilion,” said Sarah Urist Green, associate curator of contemporary art. “Their singular approach—integrating concept, design, and fabrication—will yield an unforgettable and all-encompassing environment that intricately relates to the space as a thoroughfare and site for assembly and interaction.”

Ball-Nogues likens their method of fabrication to a 21st century application ofIkat, an Indonesian term for the ancient textile process of resist dye.A labor intensive method, Ikat involves the application of vibrant colors to precise locations on individual yarns that, when woven, form a blurry edged pattern. Similarly, Ball-Nogues will color the strings individually in precise locations by using four computer-controlled airbrushes that are part of a programmable machine of their own design. Called the Instal-lator 1 with the Variable Information Atomizing Module, the machine will paint over 30 miles of string and cut it to prescribed lengths determined by an integrated software system. The shape of the thousands of hanging strings will be computed with a mathematical formula, however the piece will be installed at the museum by human hands. Ball-Nogues’ installation will be a remarkable convergence of digital computation, machine fabrication, and hand craft.

“The series title Suspensions refers to the act of disengaging from preconceived notions and intellectual interpretations, if only for a few moments, to apprehend the work with untethered expectation,” said Ball-Nogues. “In the installation at the IMA, there is an intentional duality at play—at one moment the implied surface frames views of the building and then at another obscures it, creating a clouded perspective of the building beyond.”

Ball-Nogues Studio’s sculpture is part of the Efroymson Family Entrance Pavilion installation series launched in February 2007 and made possible by a $2.5 million grant from the Indianapolis-based Efroymson Fund.  The works are installed on a rotating basis with a new commission from a different artist approximately every six months.  Artists who have previously exhibited in the space include Tony Feher, Orly Genger and Julianne Swartz, among others.

Project team: Benjamin Jenett, Ayodh Kamath, Jonathan Kitchens, Alison Kung, Deborah Lehman, Jielu Lu, Marine Manchon, Daniel Morrison, Claude Moussoki, Amador Saucedo, Lawrence Shanks, Rachel Shillander, Ron Shvartsman, Eddy Sykes , Julianne Weiss.

Custom Software: Pylon Technical

Gravity's Loom | Indianapolis Museum of Art, 2010
Built to Wear
Hong Kong | Shenzhen Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism
2009

Temporary spatial installations within urban cultures are a rapidly evolving phenomenon.  Unlike “permanent” buildings, these structures nimbly respond to the accelerated temporality of cities on the move like Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Increasingly they provide the urban spectacles that “signature” buildings aim to deliver.  Like never before, cities are adorned with provisional environments and architecturally scaled events. This situation has been further emboldened by the financial meltdown in 2008 as investors look to spend money on big urban spectacles without the financial commitment of making buildings. Within this economic outlook, the disposable plates of architecture are better investments than a collection of fine tableware. However, an important question looms when cleaning up after the meal: can the plate be composted or should it be colored with crayon and reused as a party decoration?

Built to Wear, constructed for the 2009 Shenzhen Hong Kong Biennale of Urbanism was on view from December 5th through January 23 2010 in the underground exhibition space at the Shenzhen Civic Square.  Invoking the theme of the exhibition - City Mobilization– the construction of the installation activated collaboration between Ball Nogues Studio, American Apparel, the Biennale organizers and a group of 30 volunteers from Shenzhen. This hanging architecturally scaled structure is comprised of 10,000 items of clothing manufactured by American Apparel – operator of the largest garment factory in the United States. Each garment serves the dual role of building component and individual article of clothing. Over the course of the Biennale, the installation will be dismantled and the T-shirts, muscles shirts, spaghetti tank tops, baby dresses, bikinis and g-strings comprising it will be dispersed to visitors. At a time when most US garment production has moved offshore, Built to Wear invites viewers to contemplate the relocation of manufacturing from the developed world to emerging economic powers like China while reconsidering notions of material lifecycle in architecturally scaled structures. By using a coveted consumer good – the garment - as its basic building block the project expands and critiques notions of “green’ architecture while activating public space through consumption.

As a visual concept, the installation served as a symbolic gesture of sustainability and a poetic reminder that the buildings in our cities are impermanent: frozen moments in the flow of products through the tributaries of global exchange. Outside of its environmental commentary, the project dramatically recontextualizes the clothing item – a symbol of mass consumerism - into an alternative gesture of hope.

 

Principals in Charge: Gaston Nogues, Benjamin Ball

Project Coordinators: Qi Yue Yue, Brianna Gorton,  Ken Tan

Project Team Los Angeles: Norma Silva, Patrick LaTona, Jonathan Kitchens, Ayodh Kamath, Rochelle Gomez

Project Team Shenzhen: Li Huan, Chen Xin, Wang Guo Xian, Wang Yi Le, Wang Dan Chun, Li Ying Xin, Huang Zhu Yan, Lai Ruo Yin, Luo Jia Ye, Ke Ya Wen, Wang Hai Xuan, Liang Ting Ting, Lin Ting, Chen Su Hui, Zhang Zhi Peng, Yang Gao Bin, Xu Xiao Guang, Zheng Jia Wei, Pan Shan Shan, Rong Na Na, Liu Xi, Liu Jia Qiong, Zhuang Jie Rui, Lin Chao, Xu Yi Jing, Zeng Xiao Mi, Daniel Fernándezpascual, José Esparza,

Custom Software: Pylon Technical

Curator: Beatrice Galilee

Built to Wear | Hong Kong | Shenzhen Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism, 2009
Drop - In Distraction
Los Angeles County Permit Office
2009
 | VIDEO

How do we build something that modulates the space of an existing architectural environment while appearing to be made of almost nothing? How do we suggest volume without building a surface? 

The first permanent work in our series of “Suspensions” projects, this hanging sculpture for the new Los Angeles County Building and Safety Permit Office uses approximately two thousand individual lengths of metallic bead chains hanging under self-weight to form a matrix of catenary curves. A combination of sculptural artwork and modular ceiling system, the chains span between custom perforated aluminum panels fitted within the existing acoustical ceiling grid.  Each chain is in precise relation to its neighbors to yield an array that is more a diaphanous metallic vapor than a discrete solid object. The rhythms of the vapor respond to the location of the lighting fixtures and sprinkler heads on the ceiling grid. When viewed from oblique angles, the installation suggests a volume; from other viewpoints, the effect is of a torrent of falling rain. The color of the bead chain “dithers” from cool nickel plated to warm brass across the length of the permit office.

A challenge for the project was to create a design methodology that tightly integrated concept, computation, fabrication and economics. This approach parallels material based explorations in contemporary architectural practice. As a sculpture and as an example of new processes in design, the work will be of interest to both the staff and customers of the Building & Safety Permit Office. It will be at home in the forward thinking architectural environment of Los Angeles.

We designed software to investigate the form, manage the thousands of chains, and expedite cutting. Formal exploration and revisions are fluid and effortless: rather than drawing and measuring the length of each chain, we sketch the qualities of the installation in general terms; the software then automatically generates the thousands of catenaries, computes their lengths, and prepares labels to locate each chain once cut. The design choices and logistics are “front loaded” to save time by reducing on-site management and fabrication complexity, allowing a small team to assemble the project.

Principals in Charge: Benjamin Ball, Gaston Nogues

Project Fabrication Team: Andrew Lyon, Nicole Semenova, Elizabeth Timme,  Gaston Nogues, Benjamin Ball, Ayodh Kamath, Norma Silva, Matt Harmon, Tim Peeters, Jonathan Kitchen, Nicole Kell

Custom Software Development: Pylon Technical

Drop - In Distraction | Los Angeles County Permit Office, 2009
Feathered Edge
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA
2009
 | VIDEO

Feathered Edge was commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. The project explores the convergence of digital technology and craft. It is one in a series of installations curated by Brooke Hodge and Alma Ruiz. Integrating complex digital computation, mechanization, and printing with traditional handcrafted production techniques, Feathered Edge explores our desire to alter a space with fluid architectural forms that require a minimal use of material while utilizing a new proprietary technique that yields the effect of three dimensional spatial constructs “printed” to resemble objects hovering in space.

Feathered Edge is comprised of 3604 individual lengths of twine, totaling 21 miles, that have been dyed, cut, and then suspended from mesh scrims installed on the walls and ceiling of the gallery. With the aid of the “Insta-llator 1 with the Variable-Information Atomizing Module,” a machine designed and manufactured by Ball-Nogues Studio especially for this installation, the strings were precisely saturated with solvent-based inks, created by a chemist for the project, using four digitally controlled airbrushes and then cut to varying lengths. Using specialized parametric software developed with a software programmer, we generated a map that was printed onto the scrim to establish the proper locations and lengths of the twine in the space. Each piece was attached to the mesh scrim, and then knotted by hand in a technique similar to that used to make latch-hook rugs. The weight of the string creates a complex system of overlapping catenary curves on which cyan, magenta, yellow, and black  segments were “printed” to yield the effect of ghostly three dimensional objects. Sometimes the objects are visible, at other times they blur to resemble a fluid-like vapor that floats and hovers in the gallery space.

The software used to develop the parameters of the resulting ephemeral spatial condition can yield nearly infinite possible design configurations. While the environment is defined by the string formations and printed “objects,” it is also constructed from the negative space found within the array of catenaries, which allows sight to extend into and throughout the spatial structure. The space is activated by people, movement, and light, creating a continually changing experience.

Computers are great at quickly analyzing large amounts of information, then generating data used for fabrication, but they can’t yet produce fully realized works of architecture. At best they can produce highly accurate components and spatial mappings or systems, this is where hand craft comes in. We use our hands and our knowledge of material as a filter for the digital possibilities and to achieve the final “built” environment; in effect, we use the prowess of the computer to push the limits of the hand.

Feathered Edge is the third in a series of projects we refer to as “Suspensions.” Unseen Current (2008), exhibited at Extension Gallery for Architecture, Chicago, featured 2,500 suspended string catenaries, and Echoes Converge, exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 2008 used string to create intricate patterns inspired by the baroque ceilings of the city’s buildings. These softly structural, open-air spaces encouraged social interaction, enveloping rather than obstructing viewers.

Principals in Charge: Benjamin Ball, Gaston Nogues
Project Management: Andrew Lyon

Project Team: Chris Ball, Tatiana Barhar, Seda Brown, Patricia Burns, Paul Clemente, Sergio d’Almeida, Jesse Duclos, Matt Harmon, Karlie Harstad, Ayodh Kamath, Jonathan Kitchens, Andrew Lyon, Lina Park, Tim Peeters, Sarah Riedmann, Joem Elias Sanez, Geoff Sedillo, Norma Silva, Caroline Smogorzewski, Beverly Tang, Blaze Zewnicki, Sasha Zubieta, and the preparatory staff of MOCA.

Feathered Edge was on view July 26-November 15, 2009

Rigging: Kelly Jones of Jax Logistics

Custom Software Development: Pylon Technical

Live Video: Peter West

Feathered Edge | Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA, 2009
Feathered Edge Drawings
2009

Drawings created with the same data used to to make the Feathered Edge installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. The drawings were exhibited in the same space as the installation.

Feathered Edge Drawings 2009
INSTA-LLATOR 1 WITH THE VARIABLE INFORMATION ATOMIZING MODULE
2009
 | VIDEO

How do the tools we use affect our choices as designers and artists? Rather than just design with an off the shelf CNC device in mind, what does it mean to design your own CNC device . . . . your own robot? Where does the line between hand craft and machine craft get drawn? How do we escape the limits imposed by commercially available software and fabrication methods? How can tooling be an avenue to design? These are some of the questions we contemplated as we designed, manufactured, and tested the Insta-llator 1 with the Variable Information Atomizing Module over the course of eight months. We designed and fabricated this computer controlled machine. It became the technological backbone of our Feathered Edge installation commissioned by curators Brooke Hodge and Alma Ruiz at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the installation was one in a series of MOCA installations addressing the convergence of digital technology and craft. The Instal_lator enabled us to digitally automate the production of the installation while making it more intricate in form and color than would have been possible using human hands as the primary mode of production. The machine eliminated the mind boggling process of cutting by hand 3604 individual lengths of string, no two alike, that formed the spatial matrix of catenaries of Feathered Edge, while allowing us to precisely airbrush each string in discreet locations based on data input from a computer. The airbrush processes yield unique three dimensional “prints” of objects within the array of strings. The results of this proprietary process suggested holographic images floating in space.  

As a software and hardware system, the Instal_lator effortlessly performs and seamlessly unifies four distinct operations - measuring, cutting, and painting string, into one continuous sequence of procedures that would be extremely time consuming and tedious (impossible) for a human to accomplish.

The Insta-llator 1 greatly expands the potential of our projects that use cordage materials. We will continue to explore this potential in an ongoing series of projects loosely entitled “Suspensions”.  

Principals in Charge: Gaston Nogues , Benjamin Ball
Project Team: Andrew Lyon, Nicole Kell, Eddy Sykes, Norma Silva, Jonathan Kitchens
Custom Software and Electronics Development: Pylon Technical

INSTA-LLATOR 1 WITH THE VARIABLE INFORMATION ATOMIZING MODULE 2009
Spock's Blocks
Entrepôt in Bordeaux co-organized by arc en rêve centre d’architecture and the CAPC contemporary art museum, as part of the Bordeaux urban arts biennale Evento
2009
 | VIDEO

"According to the principle of Mr. Spock art, the artist presents the audience with an amazing riddle and then with a calculated solution, notable for its lack of ambiguity, which will make everyone say, 'F-A-A-A-Scinating!'" — Diedrich Diederichsen

Diedrichsen’s quote comes from an article he wrote for Art Forum. After we read the article we were inspired to name our project Spock’s Blocks.

Spock’s Blocks is a tribute to the rationality and calm detachment of the First Science Officer of the Starship Enterprise, Star Trek (our apologies to Diedrich Diederichsen). Comprised only of strings and ink, we employed Spock-logic to construct the lightest wall imaginable – an ephemeral architecture that mirrors the modular units of stone at the Entrepôt.  The complex system of overlapping catenary curves were cut and printed by a computer-controlled machine—Instal_lator with Variable Information Atomizing Module— that we designed and fabricated to yield “printed” visual and spatial effects.

Principles in Charge: Benjamin Ball, Gaston Nogues

Project Team Los Angeles: Rochelle Gomez, Jonathan Kitchens, James Jones, Norma Silva. Additional names to follow

Project Coordinator Bordeaux: Wen Wen Cai

Project Team Bordeaux: Boris Sauboy, Nicolas Grawitz, Claude Grace Moussoki, Celine Berra, Joy Demez, Eric Dordan, Brianna Gorton, Alexi Mennel, Milos Xiradakis, Eric Trousicot

Curators: Claire Petetin, Éric Troussicot, Michel Jacques, Francine Fort 

Spock's Blocks | Entrepôt in Bordeaux co-organized by arc en rêve centre d’architecture and the CAPC contemporary art museum, as part of the Bordeaux urban arts biennale Evento, 2009
Lens
Exposed - sponsored by the Arts Council of Long Beach
2009
 | VIDEO

What does it mean to create an architecturally scaled environment that has a potent sculptural presence but is made of almost no material? What does it mean when we modulate space with volumes that hover on the threshold of absence?

Long BeachEXPOSED is the sixth in a series of projects we refer to as “Suspensions.” Unseen Current (2008), exhibited at Extension Gallery for Architecture, Chicago, featured 2,500 suspended string catenaries, and Echoes Converge, exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 2008 used string to create intricate patterns inspired by the baroque ceilings of the city’s buildings. These softly structural, open-air spaces encouraged social interaction, enveloping rather than obstructing viewers.

A constant desire to push the possibilities of our tools, materials and techniques has led us to develop the “Insta-llator 1 with the Variable-Information Atomizing Module,” a machine designed and manufactured by Ball-Nogues Studio especially for these installations. With the machine the strings may be precisely saturated with solvent-based inks using four digitally controlled airbrushes in discreet areas and then cut to to their varying lengths via computer control. The weight of the string creates a complex system of overlapping catenary curves on which cyan, magenta, yellow, and black segments are “printed” to yield the effect of ghostly three dimensional objects. Sometimes the objects are visible, at other times they blur to resemble a fluid-like vapor that floats and hovers in the gallery space.

Employing these advancements we created Feathered Edge, currently on exhibit at MOCA PDC and Spock's Blocks, for the exhibit INSIDERS: practices, uses, and know-how, currently on exhibit at the Arc en Rêve Centre D'Architecture, Bordeaux. Functioning as an astigmatic lens, Long BeachEXPOSED seeks to absorb light and create a new point of focus in the room.

Principals in Charge: Benjamin Ball, Gaston Nogues

Project Team: Ayodh Kamath, Csaba Mester, James Jones, Jonathan Kitchens, Moushira Elamrawy, Sarah Riedmann, Norma Silva, Patrick Latona, Rochele Gomez

Custom Software Development: Pylon Technical

Lens | Exposed - sponsored by the Arts Council of Long Beach, 2009
Elastic Plastic Sponge
Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, Indio, CA
2009
 | VIDEO

The Elastic Plastic Sponge was created by students from the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) led by Benjamin Ball, Gaston Nogues and Andrew Lyon of the Ball-Nogues Studio. The Elastic Plastic Sponge was a large scale installation that could be twisted, arched and curled to form different types of space including a lounge, a theater, or a large sculptural Mobius strip. In the desert heat of Indio, the architectural installation provided a respite from the sun by making shade and mist while at night, each “cell” within the Elastic Plastic Sponge supported a fluorescent tube–the tubes shifted in orientation relative to each other to create the effect of sweeping motion. The motion effect was evident from close-up as well as impactful from across the vast festival grounds–an important asset in an environment of throngs of festival-goers and competing spectacles.

The Elastic Plastic Sponge was a unique structure. In architecture terminology, the phrase that describes a system whose form is derived from its material properties is “form active.” These types of structures are difficult to study using software. They often require architects to explore their designs by testing full-scale mock-ups, and using that empirical information to help inform the process of digital modeling, which is studied in the studio rather than in the field.

The Elastic Plastic Sponge was comprised of 250 cells, each fabricated using custom jigs designed by SCI-Arc students.  The cell module is a very effective way of constructing a temporary structure: each can be transported as a flat unit to the Festival and rapidly assembled on site; after the Festival is over, dismantling and transportation to a new site is easy.

From the Festival’s standpoint of an event spanning several days, the Elastic Plastic Sponge could be rapidly reconfigured to create unique spatial arrangements each day; its flexibility allows the designers to adapt to changing crowd, climate and site conditions. From a pedagogical standpoint, the Elastic Plastic Sponge's mutability enabled students to examine its unique structure at full scale; working and reworking its shape as they would a digital model.

Project Team: Joanne Angeles, Benjamin Ball, Phil Blaine, Seyoung Choi, Dina Giordano, Benlloyd Goldstein, Monica  Gutierrez, James Jones, William Kim, Anthony Lagunay, Andrew Lyon, Jorge Miranda, Jeffery Morrical, Gaston Nogues, Mandana Ozlati, Tim Peeters

Rock and Roll Fantasy: SCI-Arc at Coachella
The studio, which began on January 19, 2009, required participants to study large-scale art installations, and devise one such structure as a class and then build the temporary architecture installation for the tenth annual Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival. Elastic Plastic Sponge, the result of this collaboration between SCI-Arc and Coachella, will debut at this year’s festival, April 17 through April 19 at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California. 

The SCI-Arc studio class began the project by researching legendary rock 'n' roll gatherings including Woodstock, Glastonbury Festival and past Coachella installments. Students also spent time investigating other temporary constructions created for Burning Man, Serpentine Pavilion and the Venice Biennale, among others.

As the studio evolved, the class began to develop various designs in separate teams. Festival promoter Goldenvoice chose one of these designs, which will receive prominent placement at Coachella.

Benjamin Ball, Gaston Nogues and Andrew Lyon of Ball-Nogues Studio taught the studio with special direction from Coachella’s art curator, Philip Blaine.

About SCI-Arc
SCI-Arc, an independent, accredited degree-granting institution, offers undergraduate and graduate programs in architecture. An educational laboratory, SCI-Arc tests the limits of architecture in order to transform existing conditions into the designs for the future. With its location in a quarter-mile-long former freight depot in the intensely urban Artist District in Downtown Los Angeles, SCI-Arc provides a uniquely inspiring environment in which to study architecture. It is distinguished by the vibrant atmosphere of its studios, where some 500 students and 80 faculty members—mostly practicing architects—work together in a fluid, non-hierarchical manner, re-examining assumptions and exploring and testing new ideas through making. The institution offers weekly lectures and ongoing exhibitions, which are free and open to the public.

SCI-Arc - Re-imagining the edge: Educating Architects to engage, speculate, innovate.

To learn more about SCI-Arc, visit www.sciarc.edu.

Elastic Plastic Sponge | Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, Indio, CA, 2009
Sculptural Cardboard Workspace
Edward Cella Art + Architecture, Los Angeles, CA
2009

We designed this permanent sculpture-like workspace for Edward Cella Art + Architecture (ECAA) in its newly relocated gallery across from LACMA and adjacent to the new location of the A+D Museum on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. The undulating functional object was crafted by hand from assembled layers of industrially cut cardboard and Koskisen plywood. Seeking to affect the white cube space of the gallery with minimal use of materials, we utilized the surging repetition and pattern created by stacking two shapes of pre-cut cardboard designed and calibrated on computational software. Suggesting movement and vitality, the reception counter acts as a fluid yet intermediary object between the public space of the gallery and the gallery's workspace. Fabricated by our collective team, the workstation reflects the gallery's emphasis on craftsmanship and execution. Embracing the post-gilded age economy, the design's humble materials do not shy from seeking new and dynamic forms.

Principals in Charge: Benjamin Ball, Gaston Nogues

Project Managers: Andrew Lyon, James Jones

Design Team: Andrew Lyon, James Jones

Project Construction Team: James Jones, Andrew Lyon, Nicole Semenova, Jonathan Kitchens, Elizabeth Timme, Gaston Nogues, Tim Peeters, Nicole Kell

Sculptural Cardboard Workspace | Edward Cella Art + Architecture, Los Angeles, CA, 2009
Se San Diego Hotel City Wall
San Diego, CA
2008

The project is located in a new Se San Diego Hotel. The brief called for a sculptural wall map of the City of San Diego that also marked the location of the hotel.  Using software, we transformed an aerial photograph of the City into a three dimensional bas relief. The photographic image became the data set for the CNC milled wall sculpture finished in bronze and polymer resin. 

Principals in Charge: Benjamin Ball, Gaston Nogues
Project Manager:  Ben Dean
Project Design and Development: Benjamin Ball, Gaston Nogues, Ben Dean
Custom Software Development: Pylon Technical
Installation Team: Benjamin Ball, Gaston Nogues, Andrew Lyon

Interior Design: Dodd Mitchell Design

Se San Diego Hotel City Wall | San Diego, CA, 2008
Unseen Current
Extension Gallery, Chicago, IL
2008
 | VIDEO

Unseen Current is a navigable billow of fog flowing through Extension Gallery. Three thousand hanging strings or "catenaries" totaling 10 miles in length span between the walls of the gallery in precise arrangements. From a distance, this three dimensional array of catenaries suggests a surface or volume; upon moving to its center, it evokes a rolling fog. To this end, custom software was developed to explore the form of (and generate the plans for) the project. Like a pointillist painting in space inspired by the smoggy sky of Los Angeles, the color of the installation gradates from a rich orange to sky blue.

Architect Philip Johnson's ethereal hanging-chain window treatments at the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York also served as inspiration for the project. Ball-Nogues "sample" what was essentially a two dimensional decorative motif for Johnson then reinterpret it for their three dimensional modulations in the gallery.

Designers and Principals in Charge: Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues

Project Team Los Angeles: Ben Dean, Mark Bowman, Michael Ferrante

Project Team Chicago: Christopher Bartek, Lindsay Grote, Jack Donoghue, Kasia Mielniczuk, Pei San Ng, Marine Manigault, Martina Dolejs, Cady Chintis, John Wolters, Ryan Johnson, Dana Andersen, Melodi, Zarakol, Sarah Forbes, Bryant Pitak, Kathryn McRay, Christina Halatsis, Vince Rivera, Kate Cain, Mariga Medic

Software Development: Pylon Technical

Curator: Paula Palombo

Unseen Current is sponsored by Extension Gallery, The Graham Foundation, with the designer’s support provided by United States Artists.

Unseen Current | Extension Gallery, Chicago, IL, 2008
Echoes Converge
Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy
2008

What does it mean to create an architecturally scaled environment that has a potent sculptural presence but is made of almost no material? What does it mean when we modulate space with volumes that hover on the threshold of absence?

This installation marries characteristics from two distinct ceiling traditions: the contemporary suspended ceiling (a system that is inexpensive, modular, and easy to install) and the Renaissancecoffered ceiling (a province of exploration into both mathematical tiling systems and opulent visual effects).

In our continuing effort to resist the limiting presuppositions and economic flimflam embedded in commercial software and existing architectural fabrication techniques, we developed two new tools for Echoes Converge: a custom software design system and an automatic cutting apparatus. Using the software, we can explore the form of the installation, then send construction data to a digitally controlled mechanical apparatus -- the Insta-Lator -- which automates the mind-numbing process of cutting thousands of unique lengths of string. As a combined design and production system, these tools enable the installation to function as architecture but also as a made-to-order product that can be rapidly deployed by the designer or owner. 

Partners in charge: Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues

Development and FabricationTeam: Benjamin Ball, Gaston Nogues, Ben Dean, Andrew Lyon, William Trossell, Chris Lin, Martina Dolejsova, David Bant

Echoes Converge | Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy, 2008
Copper Droopscape
Coachella Music and Arts Festival, Indio, CA
2008
 | VIDEO

Commissioned for the 2008 Coachella Valley Music Festival in California, Copper Droopscape floated over the expansive festival grounds for ten days, providing both visual spectacle and shelter from the harsh desert sun. Throughout the day, music fans sat, talked, and slept in the dappled pools of colored light and shadow produced by the canopy. At night, Copper Droopscape was lit from underneath–– a shimmering, fiery beacon drawing lovers and dancers from across the 90-acre concert grounds.

Unlike conventional fabric structures designed to resist the force of wind, Copper Droopscape actively engaged the breeze. The complex, 90-foot canopy translated wind energy into sensuous motions that festival goers compared to the sea, or a kelp forest undulating beneath the waves–– both delicious metaphors for a cool sanctuary, given the installation’s unforgiving desert site. The motion of the translucent canopy resulted in a hypnotic effect as light passed through and reflected off the Mylar network. In a light breeze, the canopy made a gentle rustling sound; during gusts, a pronounced clapping sound.

The canopy was supported by rapidly deployable tripods made of untreated California pine. After the festival, the tripods were repurposed by a local builder.

Copper Droopscape was a study in non-standard modularity. While it employed a uniform cell dimension, each of its 864 parts was unique. The standard cell made field assembly manageable, while each part’s non-uniform aspects–– the form and proportions of the hanging tendril–– yielded a rich visual and aural experience.

Ball-Nogues collaborated with Pylon Technical to create custom software to explore the form of Copper Droopscape, control the degree of openness in the canopy, and expedite fabrication. The software made formal exploration and revision fluid and effortless. Rather than drawing each of the unique mylar parts, Ball-Nogues sketched the qualities of the canopy in general terms, and the software automatically generated the hundreds of components making up the unified canopy system, labeled them, and prepared files to drive a computer-controlled cutting machine. The design and logistics were “front loaded” to reduce on-site management and fabrication complexity, which allowed Copper Droopscape to be assembled by a team of 12 people in just ten days.

Designers and Principals in Charge: Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues

Project Manager: Andrew Lyon

Project Design and Development Team: Ben Dean, Andrew Lyon

Project Construction Team: Benjamin Ball, Chris Ball, Jodie Bass, Mark Bowman, Ryan Davis, Ben Dean, Martina Dolejs, Melissa Sophia Drocles, Christine Eyer, Richie Garcia, Eddie Gonzales, Oliver Hess, Josh Levine, Andrew Lyon, Reid Maxwell, Pie San Ng, Gaston Nogues, Charon Nogues, Nick Paradowski, Michelle Paul, Sarah Peyton, Geoff Sedillo, Andy Summers, Elizabeth Tremante, William Trossell, Erica Urech, Johanna Zuckerman

Software Development: Pylon Technical

Structural Consultants: Buro Happold, Los Angeles

Copper Droopscape | Coachella Music and Arts Festival, Indio, CA, 2008
Liquid Sky Centerfold
Form Magazine's Project of the Month "Centerfold"
2008

Jennifer Caterino, editor of Form Magazine, asked us to feature one of our projects as the centerfold for the January 2008 issue of the publication. We chose Liquid Sky, our winning project for the 2007 Museum of Modern Art, Young Architects Program Competition. For this centerfold, we collaged a number of images of Liquid Sky, combined them over an Alberto Vargas pin-up woman and a do-it-yourself guide to making a model of the Mylar roof structure we used in the pavilion.  All members of the Los Angeles American Institute of Architects received a copy. 

Liquid Sky Centerfold | Form Magazine's Project of the Month "Centerfold", 2008
Liquid Sky
PS1 Contemporary Art Center, Queens, NY
2007

From the Museum of Modern Art Press Release:

The Museum of Modern Art and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center present an installation in P.S.1's outdoor courtyard by Los Angeles-based firm Ball-Nogues, led by Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues, winner of the eighth annual MoMA/P.S.1 Young Architects Program. The competition invites emerging architects to propose an installation for the courtyard of P.S.1 in Long Island City, Queens. The objective of the Young Architects Program is to identify and provide an outlet for emerging young talent in architecture, an ongoing mission of both MoMA and P.S.1. This year, five finalists selected by a closed nomination process were asked to present designs for an installation at P.S.1.

The winning installation, Liquid Sky, designed by Ball-Nogues (Los Angeles), will be on view in the P.S.1 courtyard beginning June 21. Liquid Sky will immerse the viewer in kaleidoscopic patterns of color created by sunlight filtering through an array of translucent, tinted Mylar petals that resemble blossoming flowers of stained glass. Together, the petals form a tensioned surface that reconfigures the horizon, cresting above the walls of the P.S.1 courtyard. Six towers constructed from untreated utility poles support the surface while providing discrete spaces at their base for relaxing on enormous community hammocks made of brightly colored netting. For the adjacent outdoor gallery, the team has designed the Droopscape, a slack catenary belly that shifts and flows in the wind, supported by drench towers that periodically soak visitors below with their gravity-induced tip buckets by Fountainhead. The winning proposal was designed in collaboration with Paul Endres of Endres Ware Architects/Engineers and the Product Architecture Lab at Stevens Institute. As in past years, the project will serve as the venue for Warm Up, the popular music series held annually in P.S.1's courtyard.

"Ball-Nogues's exuberant project, Liquid Sky, combines the zest of a joyful event space with rigorous research into new materials and digital fabrication," states Barry Bergdoll, Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at The Museum of Modern Art. Low-tech assembly is joined with experiment in the latest cutting and fabrication techniques gleaned from the sailing industry. They posit a project whose research will hold resonance and application long after this summer's Warm Up series. Liquid Sky is a rich palette of atmospheric effects and brilliant color with an undertone of the ephemeral circus spectacle.

According to P.S.1 Director Alanna Heiss, "To hear five great, young architects present their dream of a temporary pavilion is to fall in love five times. The winner, Ball-Nogues, from the Echo Park area of Los Angeles, gave us a Fellini-esque project: a circus tent whose canvas has been replaced with phosphorescent scales of hallucinogenic colors. This astonishing but low-tech creation cannot fail but to delight viewers of all ages."

Ball-Nogues principals, Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues, describe the experience of their installation: "When you step into Liquid Sky, you've set your mind and body free from the weight of the urban environment and are submerged into an atmosphere of soothing exhilaration, subtle stimulation, and inspirational calm. As the installation changes from day-to-day, even hour-to-hour, your expectations create your own unique experience."

Designers and Principals in Charge: Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues

Project Team: Paul Endres, Mark Pollock, Erik Verboon, Corey Brugger

Canopy Membrane Analysis and Formfinding, Structural Engineering: Endres Ware: Paul Endres, Benjamin Corotis, Mary Barensfeld

Parametric Modeling and Scripting: Product Architecture Laboratory, Stevens Institute of Technology: John Nastasi, Mark Pollock, Erik Verboon, Corey Brugger

Canopy Membrane and Structural Consultants: Arup Los Angeles: Bruce Danziger; Arup New York: Matt Jackson, Matt Clark; Werner Sobek New York: Will Laufs

Water Effects Design and Engineering: Fountainhead Water Systems Design, Los Angeles: Jenna Didier, Oliver Hess, Nick Blake

Hammocks: Sheila Pepe

Project Coordinators:: Chris Reins and Elizabeth Lande

Poster Series Curator: Israel Kandarian

Construction Coordination:Ball-Nogues Studio

Construction Team Leaders: Mark Pollack , Justin Capuco, Jed Geiman, Scott Mitchell

Construction Team: Danny Abalof, Andrea Abramoff, Rocio Barcia, Bogyi Banovich, Bridget Basham, Tripp Bassett, Harrison Blair, Lorka Birn, Lander Burton, Maria Camoratta, Steven Chen, Dianne Chia, Malachi Connely, Ceasar Cotta, Jonathan Cottle, Elizabeth Cunningham, Dino, Susannah Dickinson, Erin Egenberger, Kate Feather, Michael Ferrante, Bruce Foster, Hiroe Fujimoto, Owen Gerst, Lee Gillentine, Adrian Grenier, Yarden Harari, Mark Horne, Steve Keene, Keivon Kianfar, Greg Kay, Da Sul Kim, Nicole Kotsis, Michael Lindsey, Margot List, Catherine Lohanata, Sabrina Lupero, Andrew Lyon, Brittany Macomber, Mia Lai, Miles Mercer, Paul Matys, Cristina Milleur, Scott Mitchell, Ry Morrison, Charon Nogues, Caroline O’Leary, Meaghan Pierce-Delaney, Alex Pollock, Raphael Periera, Cindy Poulton, Ardo Pizzi, Jar Rittoral, Todd Rouhe, Larissa Santoro, Karl Schmid, Benno Schmidt, Jess Shirley, Jesse Seegers, Skyler, Rico Suarez, David Wicks, CK Dickson Wong, Tom Wu, Coe Will, and other generous contributors

Special Thanks: Brooke Hodge, Sylvia Lavin, Tripp Bassett, Monica Jeremias, Charon Nogues, Nancy Ball, William Ball, Mario Nogues, Tony Barre, Josh Levine, Meaghan Lloyd, Socrates Sculpture Park, Mark di Suvero, David Jargowski, Hood Sailmakers, Hale Walcoff, John Gluek, Tom Obed, Benjamin Keating, John Drezner, Gary Hummel, Eliott Pattison Sailmakers, Britt Holmes, Tom Majich, Jason Moses, Texas A&M University: Carol Lafayette, International Rigging - Simon Franklyn, Elizabeth Cunningham, John Nastasi, David Bott, Tom Wiscombe, Hardy Wronsky, Southern California Institute of Architecture, Pablo Castro and Jennifer Lee, Susan Hengst, Tracey Tanner, Tasha Lemel, Deagan Day Design, Jamaica Jones, Michael Lindsey Sculpture, Scott Walker

Liquid Sky | PS1 Contemporary Art Center, Queens, NY, 2007
Agnes B. Boutique
Soho, New York, NY
2007

Clothing retailer Agnes b. asked us to design a low budget store window installation that made a connection to our project for the Young Architect's Program at the P.S.1 Contemporary Arts Center. We used a flexible scissoring net structure similar to the "Droopscape" structure at P.S.1, but here in a vertical configuration so that the net formed a large-scale chain link fence between Greene Street in Soho and the interior of the store. To make the 390 unique parts, we employed polyester reinforced Mylar cut with a computer controlled system. The cutting system labeled the material with a Sharpie marker to make the "Agnes b." logo and write "P.S.1 Warm Up" on the parts. Posters by various designers from throughout the world appeared in collages in the store. Mimicking the poster concept for the P.S.1 installation, each week a new poster appeared to compliment or obscure the previous week's edition. Israel Kandarian was curator for the posters series.

Principals in Charge: Benjamin Ball, Gaston Nogues
Project Fabrication: Benjamin Ball, Gaston Nogues
Graphic Design and Poster Curator: Israel Kandarian

Agnes B. Boutique | Soho, New York, NY, 2007
Skin + Bones, Parallel Practices in Fashion and Architecture Fete Installation
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA
2006

In summer 2006 the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles commissioned us to create a one-night installation for the Skin and Bones, Parallel Practices in Fashion and Architecture opening night fete and annual fundraiser. The event took place in a 12,000 square foot gallery building at the Geffen Contemporary. The development and fabrication time for the project was six weeks.

In literal reference to fashion we used garment related fabrication techniques such as patterning, sewing, folding, weaving, knitting & draping to create an ephemeral structure that would enhance the social setting and create a shared visual memory of the fleeting gala. En-route to dinner, guests were invited to walk a runway through a swirling kaleidoscopic array of last year's T-shirts, flannel pajamas, Polo shirts and all other manner of accouterment.

To create this effect we worked in concert with Endres Ware Engineers to develop an anticlastic minimal surface net structure that became the armature for weaving colorful materials plucked from the conveyor belts of bulk textile recycling companies.  We laid the materials flat for flame proofing treatment, sorted them into color categories and then folded them in preparation for weaving. This process served as karmic retribution for years of neglecting to properly do laundry. Working closely with a fishing net manufacturer, we educated ourselves in the deceptively vast intricacies of net building; applying the know-how of an "outsider" industry to create an architectonic structure. Afterward, our net maker told us "it was the most challenging net I have ever made."

Designers and Principals in Charge: Benjamin Ball, Gaston Nogues
Fabrication: Ball-Nogues Studio
Fabrication Team: Benjamin Ball, Gaston Nogues, Ben Dean, Elizabeth Tremante, Charon Nogues, Monica Jeremias
Structural Engineer: Endres Ware Architects and Engineers
Net Fabrication: Christensen Networks

Skin + Bones, Parallel Practices in Fashion and Architecture Fete Installation | Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA, 2006
Untitled Hanging Installation
Kunstuniversität Linz, Austria
2006

Made during a workshop with students at the Kunstuniversität Linz, Austria; the site for this tensile installation was in a building erected by the Third Reich during World War II. Using sports netting and bulk quantities of common clothing and sheets recycled for use as rags, we created a delicately balanced tensile network over the buildings’ main staircase. An “egg” made of an enormous wad of clothing diverted the flow of students up and down the staircase, while also serving as a counterweight to shape the network above. En route to class, students could walk around the egg or push it out of the way, as though it were a large punching bag.

Project Team: this installation was a collaborative project conducted as a workshop by Ball-Nogues Studio with students at Kunstuniversität Linz from the space&designstrategies program.

Untitled Hanging Installation | Kunstuniversität Linz, Austria, 2006
Rip Curl Canyon
Rice Gallery, Houston, TX
2006

Rice Gallery commissioned this installation in collaboration with The Museum Fine Arts in Houston exhibition, The Modern West: American Landscape, 1890-1950. When the Gallery director mentioned a Modern West tie-in before we had settled on an approach to the project we realized that the notion of landscape and geological phenomena dovetailed with our design for Tiffany and Company’s Frank Gehry Jewelry Launch Gala on Rodeo Drive in 2006.  In the Tiffany project, the jewelry maker’s “body as landscape” ad campaign informed our approach to creating laminated cardboard walls and ottomans. At Rice, we expanded the potential of constructing landscapes in cardboard to include the viewer’s physical participation. We invited visitor exploration by extending the casual social terrain of the campus into the gallery, transforming it into a traversable rolling playground. On any given day one might discover a group of gallery goers studying, snoozing, climbing, sliding down the rolling terrain, or making-out in one of the darkened recesses below the cardboard surface.

Rip Curl Canyon was a kind of mythical location in the American West where land and water collide, far from Houston’s flat drained swamps. From its highest point at the rear of the gallery, its steep, crevice-like formations sloped down and gained momentum before breaking apart to form ribbons of curling waves. Like rip currents – narrow, fast moving belts of water – the segments twisted and surged toward the front glass entry wall. The view through the glass provided only glimpses of the unfolding topography beyond and invited the visitor to probe deeper. The steady climbing exploring caused the raw cut cardboard to slowly compress with each footstep…over time this accumulation developed into subtle pathways.

The fabrication processes used to make the natural brown surfaces are in the lineage of those Gehry employed in his legendary "Easy Edges" line of furniture in the 1970's.  Expanding on this knowledge enabled us to create architecturally scaled cardboard structures and introduce double curvature.  We used the properties and limitations of the material – determined through building full scaled mock-ups during development combined with a parametric digital interface - to shape the cardboard – ribbons.”  The project required laminating over 20,000 strips (weighing approximately eight tons) of curved, industrially die-cut corrugated cardboard in twelve days. Incredibly strong and capable of supporting the weight of several people, the cardboard laminates operate as semi-monocoques with an intermediary plywood armature. The armature was made of standard wood materials – 2 x 4s and plywood – individually cut and CNC routered offsite to conform to the varying dimensions and curvature of the undulating cardboard shells. We digitally developed a language of slotting connections so that these non-standard parts came together like a giant puzzle in four days, required very little structural decision making in the field and gave us the freedom to make improvised choices when installing the cardboard.

Designers and Principals in Charge: Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues

Parametric Modeling: Benjamin Ball

Structural Consultants: Arup Los Angeles: Bruce Danziger

Curator: Kimberly Davenport

Rip Curl Canyon | Rice Gallery, Houston, TX, 2006
Tiffany & Company Gehry Jewelry Launch
Beverly Hills, CA
2006

In the fall of 2005 Tiffany & Company hired Ball-Nogues to create the environment for the gala event celebrating the launch of its line of jewelry and accessories designed by architect Frank Gehry. The happening took place on a closed portion of Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California. It featured temporary constructions that filled the street, honored the materiality of Gehry's early work, and reinforced the imagery of Tiffany's new "body as landscape" advertising campaign.

Ball-Nogues devised walls, furniture, and bars for the event. One wall structure, half a block long to form an elegant backdrop, curved like the human body and was constructed from 4000 layers of corrugated cardboard sandwiched together. "Peep show" type display windows, inspired by Marcel Duchamp's Étant Donnés, punctuated the wall, framing tightly cropped compositions of live, naked models wearing the Gehry designed jewelry. In addition to creating walls, twenty-four voluptuous ottomans, no two alike, invited the 600 guests to explore playful new ways of sitting.

The assembly processes used to make the natural brown surfaces elaborate on those Gehry employed in his legendary "Easy Edges" line of furniture in the 1970's. These sensuous forms that resembled slices of rolling topography grew from a manufacturing process created by Ball-Nogues. The entire project required laminating over 25,000 strips of curved, industrially cut corrugated cardboard. Incredibly strong and capable of supporting the weight of several people, the cardboard laminates operate more like shells (integrating structure and skin) rather than surfaces - which need the support of a skeletal armature. The pieces reorient the viewer's notions of common cardboard from a raw packaging material to a substance with structural potential at an architectural scale, capable of being used to fashion elegantly refined compound curving forms.

Designers and Principals in Charge: Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues

Project Team: Sam Gehry, Jonathan Ward

Fabricator: Ethos Design

Tiffany & Company Gehry Jewelry Launch | Beverly Hills, CA, 2006
Maximilian's Schell
Materials & Applications, Los Angeles, CA
2005

This vortex-shaped, temporary outdoor installation in the Los Angeles exhibition space of Materials & Applications, warped the flow of space with a featherweight rendition of a celestial black hole. Hovering over M&A's courtyard, Maximilian's Schell was a spectacle the size of an apartment building constructed in tinted Mylar resembling stained glass. The piece functioned as a shade structure, swirling overhead for the entire summer of 2005. The interior of this immersive experimental installation created a beckoning outdoor room for social interaction and contemplation by changing the space, color, and sound of the M&A courtyard gallery. During the day as the sun passed overhead, the canopy cast colored fractal light patterns onto the ground while a tranquil subsonic drone from the integrated ambient sound installation by composer James Lumb entitled "Resonant Amplified Vortex Emitter" lightly rumbled below the feet of the viewer. When standing in the center or "singularity" of the piece and gazing upward, the visitor could see only infinite sky. In the evening when viewed from the exterior, the vortex glowed warmly while both obscuring and allowing glimpses of the building behind it. The assembly paid homage to a character played by actor Maximilian Schell in Disney Studio's forgotten sci-fi adventure The Black Hole. Dr. Reinhardt is a visionary tyrant on a monomaniacal quest to harness the "power of the vortex" and possess "the great truth of the unknown."

Ball Nogues invested more than a year into a development process that involved several prototypes, though actual fabrication took only two weeks. The result was an installation that functioned as not only architecture and sculpture but as a "made-to-order" product through a unified manufacturing strategy. The designers achieved their aesthetic effects by manipulating Mylar reinforced with bundled Nylon and Kevlar Fibers on a computer-controlled (CNC) cutting machine. Simultaneously reflective and transparent, the amber-colored film offered UV-resistance through a laminated golden metallic finish. The result was neither a tent-type membrane nor a cable net structure in the manner of Frei Otto, but a unique tensile matrix comprised of 504 different instances of a parametric component or "petal," each cut and labeled using the CNC system. Every petal connected to its neighbors at three points using clear polycarbonate rivets to form the overall shape of a vortex. As though warped by the gravitational force of a black hole, the petals continually changed scale and proportion as they approached the singularity of the piece.

An integration of structure and skin, the vortex behaved as a "minimal surface": prestressed, always in tension, yet definable mathematically. Its lineage is in the soap film surfaces modeled by Otto in the 1950s and '60s; a process now typically accomplished using software that performs "finite element" calculations. After receiving hand sketches and computer models made by the designers, membrane engineer Dieter Strobel digitally crafted and refined the minimal surface model. He quickly and precisely manipulated it during the "form-finding" process while accounting for the distorting effects of gravity and enabling the finished vortex-shaped canopy to be in tension everywhere across its top surface. This gave it a pure and smooth appearance, especially when viewed from the exterior. Seen from the interior, the piece resembled an enormous transparent flower with its petals lightly draping and curling downward with gravity.

Designers and Principals in Charge: Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues

Construction Coordination: Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues

Construction Team: the magnificent volunteers at Materials & Applications

Membrane Analysis: Dieter Strobel

Structural Engineering Consultants: David Bott, Hardy Wronske

Sound: James Lumb

Parametric Modeling: Benjamin Ball

Photography: Benny Chan, Oliver Hess, Scott Mayoral, Joshua White

Curator: Jenna Didier

Special Thanks: Dewey Ambrosio, Miranda Banks, Freya Bardell, David Bott, Siobhan Burke, Scott Carter (the prince of parametric modeling), Malachi Conolly, Ben Dean, Jenna Didier, Stephanie Elliot, Rachel Francisco, Rob Fitzgerald, Linda Graveline, Andrew Hardaway, Oliver Hess, Tony Hudgins, Leigh Jerard, Tim Levin, Jonny Lieberman, Brandie Lockett, Kellie Lumb, Alexandra Isaievych, Alex MikoLevine, Fred Moralis, Jim Miller, Phil Miller, Charon Nogues, pAdlAb: Dan Gottlieb & Penny Herscovitch, Harry Pattison, Joanne Pink-Tool, Jeremy Rothe-Kushel, Edward Shelton, Dieter Strolbel, Joe Sturges, Elizabeth Tremante, Hardy Wronskie, and Bryant Yeh.

Maximilian's Schell | Materials & Applications, Los Angeles, CA, 2005
Set Design for Audi A6 Commercial
Los Angeles, CA
1998

Designed for a television commercial advertising the lightweight Audi A6 automobile, our operating narrative for the set design was that it emphasize weightiness by imitating concrete infrastructure construction methods in order to contrast the lightness and innovation embodied in the chassis of the A6. To illustrate the car frame’s lightness, it was hoisted through the set while being lit from above through a diffusion scrim behind a steel grill incorporated into the ceiling of the set.

Director: Mark Coppos
Production Designer: Virginia Lee
Set Designer: Benjamin Ball
Construction: Tribal Scenery

Set Design for Audi A6 Commercial | Los Angeles, CA, 1998
Set Design for Janet Jackson Music Video
Los Angeles, CA
1997
 | VIDEO

The set design was for the music video Got 'Til It's Gone, a song on Janet Jackson’s 1997 album The Velvet Rope. Our operating narrative for the set design was that it suggest the interior of a “deteriorating public works building in colonial Africa, designed by a mediocre European modernist architect with a big ego.”

Director: Mark Romanek
Production Designer: Virginia Lee
Set Designer: Benjamin Ball
Set Decorator: Michelle Munoz
Construction: Tribal Scenery

Set Design for Janet Jackson Music Video | Los Angeles, CA, 1997

In Progress

Not Whole Fence
Triple A Baseball Stadium, El Paso, Texas
2014

Not Whole Fence pays homage to the simpler days of baseball, of watching the great American pastime through a wooden fence. Imagine a child, peeking through the knotholes with the impressionable canvas of youth, evoked by a sense of wonder and hope or devoted fans who cannot afford tickets, sneaking glances through small openings with playfully mischievous eyes, excited by the possibility of joyous victory or getting caught.

 

Located along Santa Fe Street at the northeast corner of Southwest University Park in El Paso, Texas, Not Whole Fence acts as a buffer between the ballpark and a children’s playground. The structure provides the safety of a sturdy partition, while also facilitating coincidental encounters with the game, spurring inspiration in children and passers-by.  

 

The structural quality of the fence creates a sense of mystery. By allowing mostly partial views of the action inside the ballpark, it calls for the imagination to conjure up the rest of the picture, creating a sense of fantasy and infinite possibilities.

 

Not Whole Fence also seeks to monumentalize a single wooden picket by turning it on its side and zooming in to appreciate its unique grain pattern in detail. The stencil, with its undulating waves dotted by anchored knotholes, reminds us of the earthy and organic and the dreamlike at once.

 

The fence is fabricated of custom aluminum extrutions which have been milled away. Milling on both sides of the pickets allows one side to make the wood grain pattern while the other creates the appearance of knot holes.


Lead Designers: Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues

Project Manager: Mora Nabi

Project Team:

Not Whole Fence | Triple A Baseball Stadium, El Paso, Texas, 2014
Untitled (Jeffco-Golden Station)
Jefferson County Government Center - Golden Station, Golden, Colorado
2014
Untitled (Jeffco-Golden Station) | Jefferson County Government Center - Golden Station, Golden, Colorado, 2014
The Fact of Seeing without Sense
Veterans Affairs Aquatic Center (inside), Palo Alto, CA
2014

The Fact of Seeing Without Sense
Ball-Nogues Studio, 2014
Stainless steel ball-chain, aluminum, paint
    
This work is made of thousands individual segments of painted ball-chain hanging in precise relation to one another. It is a site-specific installation that is part of a series of pieces the artists call Suspensions. It invites meditations on space and visual parallax as the viewer moves around it. The term “suspension” derives from a concept in chemistry where particles are dispersed throughout a fluid to form a state of matter that is between solid and space.  To enable the design and fabrication of this series, the artists engineered a digitally controlled chain cutting and measuring machine.

 

 

This work is one of two components that visually link the lobby of the new Aquatics Center to the spaces outside. The outside component can be understood in the lineage of WPA wall murals, but incorporating qualities of the shimmering waters and boundless frame of Claude Monet’s Water Lilies. It suggests a wide expanse of calming ripples of water reflecting sky.  While the exterior component presents a “wide angle” view of water, the indoor component is conceived as a “close-up”; a more intimate view of the play of water and light.

 

The Fact of Seeing Without Sense is the interior installation made up of thousands of pieces like a puzzle. The material is hanging bead chain suspended from the dropped ceiling panel. This installation incorporates the themes of water and fluidity, and expresses these concepts by using approximately five miles of hanging ball chain arrayed in “catenaries.”

 

The interior piece resembles a thickened atmosphere of waves within the double high entryway of the Aquatics Center. It is neither a solid object nor emptiness but has qualities of both. Several thousand individual segments of stainless steel ball chain, totaling approximately five miles in length make up this work. By integrating digital computation with hand production techniques, we meticulously combine segments of chain to form an array of “catenaries” that span the ceiling. In mathematics, a catenary is the shape of a curve formed by a chain hanging between two points.

 

The chains make an intricate system of overlapping curves onto which we composed several colors. The result suggests a three-dimensional abstract painting that looks differently depending on the one’s vantage point. From one angle, the viewer sees hard-edged geometric forms in distinct color; from another angle, the same colors blurred to make a vapor-like composition.


Ripples and light on water are fleeting and quickly effaced – each time we look at water it is different. This piece, along with the exterior work, represent two moments in the infinite passage of time.

 

In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time.  -Leonardo da Vinci

The Fact of Seeing without Sense | Veterans Affairs Aquatic Center (inside), Palo Alto, CA, 2014
The Apparent Junction of Earth and Sky
Veterans Affairs Aquatic Center (outside), Palo Alto, CA
2014

The Apparent Junction of Earth and Sky
Ball-Nogues Studio, 2014
Aluminum, stainless steel, paint

This mural derives from a photograph of a man who seems to be suspended beneath the water of a swimming pool while his reflection hovers above him. This image is meant to suggest the spiritual dimension of water and its capacity to be both healing and foreboding. Over thirty thousand colored pixels comprise the work. The viewer will read the pixels as reflections on brushed stainless steel fins attached to the surface of the building. The quality of the reflections transforms with changing lighting conditions and with the location of the viewer relative to the mural.

 

 

This work is one of two components that visually link the lobby of the new Aquatics Center to the spaces outside. The outside component can be understood in the lineage of WPA wall murals, but incorporating qualities of the shimmering waters and boundless frame of Claude Monet’s Water Lilies. It suggests a wide expanse of calming ripples of water reflecting sky.  While the exterior component presents a “wide angle” view of water, the indoor component is conceived as a “close-up”; a more intimate view of the play of water and light.

 

The Apparent Junction of Earth and Sky, the exterior component, is both mural and sculpture.  It is constructed like a puzzle made of thousands of pieces of powder coated aluminum. Each aluminum chip is a "pixel" attached to a stainless steel fin. While the fins represent the reflection of light onto imaginary water, they also generate reflections of the sky around the Aquatics Center onto its shiny surfaces.

 

The interior installation is also made up of thousands of pieces like a puzzle, except that the material is hanging bead chain suspended from the dropped ceiling panel. This installation incorporates the themes of water and fluidity, and expresses these concepts by using approximately five miles of hanging ball chain arrayed in “catenaries.”

 

Ripples and light on water are fleeting and quickly effaced – each time we look at water it is different. The pieces represent two moments in the infinite passage of time.

 

In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time.  -Leonardo da Vinci

The Apparent Junction of Earth and Sky | Veterans Affairs Aquatic Center (outside), Palo Alto, CA, 2014
Proscenia (working title)
Portland State University, Lincoln Hall, Portland, OR
2014
Proscenia (working title) | Portland State University, Lincoln Hall, Portland, OR, 2014

Proposals

The Table
Rose F. Kennedy Greenway, Boston, MA
2013

The Table

V.1.1

June 17, 2013

Overview

In nearly every culture, the table is a symbol of connection between people. Tables make places where people come together. By providing a space for eating, writing, negotiating, or playing games, tables give us a platform to interact with one another.

We propose a table for the Greenway that might someday be remembered as the “Big Table.” Big because it meanders throughout the entire length of the Greenway – about 1.5 miles – probably making it the longest table in the world were it to be connected at street crossings during a special event. At approximately 8000 feet in length it could seat 7500 people at once. Comprised of more than 1200-painted picnic tables conjoined into one solitary gesture, it will unite the Greenway’s segmented parks and surrounding communities giving both symbolic and functional meaning to the notion of connection while making an unprecedented spectacle. 

The Table turns corners and switches back on itself, responding to the physical features within each of the individual parks through which it passes while creating new spaces within its folds that can be used for a limitless number of activities.

What was once a slash dividing the City is now a suture; a healing connections between communities that unites a necklace of disconnected green spaces and gives meaning to a space upon which most of the buildings have turned their backs.

 

Activate

The Table promises to activate the spaces around it. Formed within its meanders and turns, the Table provides opportunities for creating outdoor rooms and seating for all sorts of urban activities some of which already happen regularly on the Greenway while others will be completely new. From Yoga classes to outdoor concerts, arts and crafts fairs to food truck festivals, public movie theaters to urban lounges, the table will generate opportunities for local organizations to make functional spaces for their public events. This process is reliant upon strategic partnership with local Boston community programs and groups.  For example, if Boston ping-pong club wants an arena for their weekly league matches, they can work with Ball-Nogues and the Conservancy to design such a space within one of the meanders of the Table.

 

A Ribbon of Color

The Table will be a spectacle of color weaving through the City. From the buildings above the Greenway it will be appear as a continuous spectral gradation, undulating and shifting -when in fact it is composed of a limited palette taken from a paint chip fan book of a major national paint brand. To achieve this effect, we will use employ the technique of dithering, which according to Wikipedia, dithering is a technique used in computer graphics to create the illusion of color depth in images with a limited color palette (color quantization). In a dithered image, colors not available in the palette are approximated by a diffusion of colored pixels from within the available palette.

Color serves two purposes for the Table, not only to create an engaging ever-changing composition suggestive of Op Art or the work of Carlos Cruz Diez, but also to differentiate zones by way of color rather than function. Visitors may indentify different areas of the Greenway by the color of the Table in that vicinity -  “meet me at the purple section of the Table in Dewy Square Park.”

 

Adapt

Rather than propose proscribing a specific form, we think of the Table is as an adaptable and scalable system for functioning as a kit-of-parts, re-making spaces within the City. As the design process proceeds, the shape, and size and deployment of the Table can adapt to changing financial conditions and outreach opportunities without sacrificing its power and meaning. The same is true of the table post-installation, it can be reconfigured and reorganized to accommodate these changing needs of the people that use it.

 

Reuse

After the Table has run its course, joining, activating and enriching the Greenway, it will be dismantled to its constituent, smaller scaled tables that can be distributed to homes, schools, businesses, or even other parks. 

Moving beyond recycling, which down-cycles material into a less valuable state, reusing tables means less waste than typically produced by a temporary art projects but perhaps, more importantly, it means that the piece will live on for years to come, reminding us of the connective potential of the Greenway.  This reminder shall remain a powerful symbol long after the Table ceases to occupy the Greenway.

The Table | Rose F. Kennedy Greenway, Boston, MA, 2013
Untitled
Love Field Airport, Dallas, Texas
2012
Untitled | Love Field Airport, Dallas, Texas, 2012
Teepee
Woodstock, New York
2010

Ball-Nogues won this commission, but project funding was lost.

The client requested that we design a “teepee” structure that could serve as a permanent wildlife observation pavilion, a summer party space and contemplative retreat. Advancing techniques we developed for our projects Maximilian’s Schell and Liquid Sky; the assembly is a tensile matrix of interconnected stainless steel tiles stretched over a wooden tripod and a stone seating area. Each tile will be unique, and together form a structure similar to a membrane. Apertures in the surface will let sunlight pass through while allowing seated inhabitants to view the landscape and trees outside. A fire pit will be at the center of the structure. 

Designers and Principals in Charge: Benjamin Ball, Gaston Nogues

Project Team: Andrew Lyon, Ayodh Kamath

Structural Engineer: Will Laufs of Thornton Thomasetti, New York

Landscape Design: Terrain, New York

Teepee | Woodstock, New York, 2010
Bloom
Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston, TX
2009
 | VIDEO

Ball-Nogues Studio was runner up in this invited competition to design a monumental gateway to the City of Houston at the Bush Interconentinental Airport in 2008. Dennis Oppenheim won the competition while third place went to Jaume Plensa.

Our Competition Narrative:

Leaving Bush Intercontinental Airport by car along John F. Kennedy Boulevard, one notices an unusual sight on Houston's expansive horizon: three brightly colored rolling hills. A few seconds pass and we can see that our path, like a highway in a pastoral landscape, cuts through these hills. A few more seconds pass and we see that the hills are rising from a field of what appears to be road signs. These ubiquitous pieces of infrastructure have no text on them. They line the street like trees on a grand European Boulevard. A few more seconds pass and they are bending and flowing like prairie grasses swept by enormous gusts of wind. The color of the bright carmine signs is now changing; they are no longer signs; they are growing in size and becoming something less familiar. We are entering the passage between the hills, but we are not between hills made of earth, the “hills” are actually comprised of what appear to be hundreds of giant flowers soaring overhead blossoming in a violet and blue crescendo. In fact, the hills that seconds ago appeared solid are actually supported by a forest of columns; we can see the underside of their top surface. As Dorothy declares upon her magical arrival in The Land of Oz, “we are not in Kansas anymore.” In less than a minute, we the travelers have crossed a threshold between the global network of airports with its crowds, colorless infrastructure, and long waits to a place of boundless possibility.

Bloom is an ambassador welcoming you to the colorful and exuberant City of Houston with a gift of flowers. Bloom is a monumental gateway and time based experience at the Houston Intercontinental Airport near the location of the existing Welcome to Houston sign. The site is within a “pause” in the progression of way finding signage that one experiences coming in and out of the airport.  The work will have tremendous impact in this location. It greets us when we arrive and bids us a warm farewell as we depart. Using the speed of the automobile and the dimension of time Bloom creates an animated space reminiscent of an lush field of flowers rising from the ground and blossoming before our eyes.

Each moment is slightly different than the previous to create the effect of transformation from common road signs into an efflorescent field of flowers – perhaps bluebonnets, the Texas state flower. Bloom is similar to its Victorian predecessor, the Zoetrope, but it is decidedly of the 21st Century. Land art meets cinema: the “hillside” is arrayed with hundreds of “movie cells.” Permanently printed onto highway sign materials and supported by CNC shaped tubing, each of the hundreds of “signs” and “sign posts” is slightly different. Cinematic phenomenon also animates the posts. Sometimes their arrangement will create the effect of riding in a car while looking between rows of an agricultural field , at other moments they pitch and sway as if being swept by winds.

The project is “scalable” - the quantity of posts can be reduced or increased according to logistics and budgetary parameters while their location can be easily adjusted during the development process to accommodate the needs of multiple stakeholders. The project can be built in Houston to save costs. We intend to use proven construction materials and methods from the transit infrastructure industry such as galvanized steel tubing, road sign fabrication techniques, grade beams for anchorage, and a rock bed surround to eliminate mowing around the work. Ball-Nogues can consult with transit specialists IBI, a group with whom we've collaborated before, to optimize the various engineering options.

Bloom can be a gateway that will become a symbol of Houston's warmth and welcoming culture while being a spectacle that can attract global attention by fusing metaphors of the Texas prairie with the universal imagery of road signs. Bloom defies expectations of arrival and departure to transform our surroundings from the commonplace to the fantastical. Each time we pass through the exuberant world of Bloom it reminds us of Houston's receptivity and innovative spirit and that all travelers are part of a global community.

Principals in Charge: Benjamin Ball, Gaston Nogues
Project Team: James Okamura Andrew Lyon, Ben Dean, David Bantz,
Animation: James Okamura, Pylon Technical
Custom Software Development: Pylon Technical

Bloom | Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston, TX, 2009
Issey Miyake Madison Avenue
New York, New York
2008

In 2008 clothier Issey Miyake approached Ball-Nogues Studio to redesign their store on Madison Avenue in New York. Given a limited budget, the ceiling was of primary interest to the client. Aiming to create a design that grew from a method of production, we conceived a ceiling made of thousands of individual hanging metallic ball chains organized into interweaving “flows.” The ceiling was to have a sculptural presence overhead: at times, the flows drooped downward to become obstacles for shoppers, while at other times, they formed an atmospheric haze. Suspended between the hanging chains was a flexible clothing display system that floated throughout the store. The ceiling was to establish a new identity for the store from the street while drawing shoppers into the boutique to explore. Our design concept, rooted in consideration of the parameters of material and fabrication paralleled Miyake’s interest in clothing designs evolving from their processes of production.

Principals in Charge: Benjamin Ball, Gaston NoguesProject Team: Andrew Lyon, Will Trossell, Ben Dean, Mark Bowman, Mike Ferrante
Custom Software Development: Pylon Technical

Issey Miyake Madison Avenue | New York, New York, 2008
Parking Canopy for Orosco Development
Tulare, California
2008
Parking Canopy for Orosco Development | Tulare, California, 2008
Johns Hopkins Children's Hospital
Baltimore, MD
2008
 | VIDEO

How do we take a child’s thoughts away from illness? How to create a work that gives a sense that everything is in its place? How can sculpture engage the theme of children’s literature? How do we make a work that captivates the imagination of a child through narrative and color while engaging adults though intricacy that approaches that of the natural world?

Designed for the new John’s Hopkins children’s hospital, this suspended sculpture addressed the theme of children’s literature through the concept of a “storytelling cloud”. A combination of sculpture and cutout animation, the cloud is comprised of a friendly swarm of silhouette illustrations. When viewed across space and time, the cutout illustrations tell a story of three friends riding on the back of a bird on a journey through the four seasons from departure to a safe return home. Linked end to end, the silhouettes form catenary chains that are suspended from the ceiling.

Principals in Charge: Benjamin Ball, Gaston Nogues
Project Team: Andrew Lyon, Will Trossell, Ben Dean, Mark Bowman, Jodi Bass, David Bantz, Chris Lin
Cutout Illustrations: Hsinping Pan
Custom Software Development: Pylon Technical

Johns Hopkins Children's Hospital | Baltimore, MD, 2008
Lexus Environmental Advertisement
Seagram Building, New York, NY
2006

The client asked us to imagine an installation that evolved over a three week period culminating in a gala event where the new Lexus LS would be revealed to a group of invited guests. The setting was to be a public plaza with heavy foot traffic.

We saw this as a challenge to make something that gradually changed from sculpture to party setting while also communicating aspects of the Lexus brand such as luxury, innovation, refinement and leadership in design.

We envisioned a temporal installation built of bricks. The bricks were to be sensually curving fiberglass ottomans similar in scale to a woman's body and formally reminiscent of a Henry Moore sculpture. The 30 ottoman / bricks would stack to form a single lexus shaped sculpture, approximately 16 feet high and evocative of the hand on a sundial - a reminder of the passage of time. As the three week period progressed, the sculpture would decompose with ottomans individually repositioned to form a perimeter ring - like hour marks on a sundial, while pointing toward the center where the car would be unveiled on the final day.

Project Team: Benjamin Ball,Gaston Nogues, Oliver Hess

Lexus Environmental Advertisement | Seagram Building, New York, NY, 2006