Hive at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. © Timothy Schenck Photography, Courtesy Studio Gang.
Unveiled last week at the National Building Museum as part of its Summer Block Party series, a temporary installation called Hive is creating quite a buzz in Washington, D.C. Thornton Tomasetti provided structural design, including form-finding, parametric modelling and finite element analysis for the installation designed by architect Studio Gang.
Hive was created out of nearly 2,700 silver-and-magenta wound paper tubes of the type that are used to hold concrete in construction. Covering 91,000 square feet of the museum’s Great Hall, the installation consists of three domes that are 20, 27 and 48 feet tall. The tallest chamber is 50 feet in diameter and has 17 levels of tubes.
Constructed inside the National Building Museum’s Great Hall, Hive is composed of approximately 2,700 wound paper tubes of various size. © Timothy Schenck Photography, Courtesy Studio Gang.
The load-bearing structure follows the design of traditional masonry domes, with larger tubes at the base (the largest of which is almost 200 pounds) that gradually decrease in size at higher elevations. The tubes are laid in a “running bond” and are held together by slotted connections. The structures’ revolved catenary arch form mitigates excessive thrust and large tension forces.
A Thornton Tomasetti analysis model shows the global deflections of the structure.
To accurately predict the bearing stresses in the wound paper tubes, Thornton Tomasetti created an intensive finite element model that did not use any simplifications of the structure. We recreated a meshed version of Studio Gang’s model that had full continuity at the tube connections. Thornton Tomasetti also advised on visual and assembly mockups to validate the construction sequence, along with structural testing of a tube assembly to verify compressive stresses. Final construction was undertaken by the museum’s master carpenter and his team over the course of just three weeks.
Testing of the concept was carried out at Columbia University’s Carleton Lab at the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science.
A time-lapse video captures the Hive’s three-week construction.
Part of the concept behind the installation was to create spaces with acoustic properties that are significantly different from that of the Great Hall in its empty state. Hive explores how a structure can reflect and modify sound and light and influence visitors’ perceptions of space while creating smaller chambers for intimate conversations and interactions. The largest chamber can accommodate performances, and the two smaller chambers contain tubular instruments – drum-like tubes and chimes suspended within the space – for visitors to play.
A tubular pipe drum allows visitors to explore the acoustics inside one of the smaller domes. © Timothy Schenck Photography, Courtesy Studio Gang.
In addition to numerous building projects with Studio Gang, Thornton Tomasetti also provided consulting for the architect’s previous installation at the museum, titled “Masonry Variations,” which featured a translucent marble curtain.
Since opening, Hive has hosted several events, including an early morning yoga class and dance party. A series of other events will take place inside the structure through Labor Day. © Timothy Schenck Photography, Courtesy Studio Gang.
Hive will be on display through Sept. 4, 2017.
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