Masonry Variations exhibit in Washington, D.C. From left, courtesy Julie Eizenberg, Koning Eizenberg Architecture, Jeanne Gang Studio/Gang/Architects, Winka Dubbeldam Archi-Tectonics and Carlos Jimenez, Carlos Jimenez Studio.
Thornton Tomasetti was the structural engineer for the “Masonry Variations” exhibit at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. Sponsored by the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers and the International Masonry Institute, the exhibit featured works by four innovative architects, demonstrating the versatility of stone, terrazzo, brick and concrete. Each installation presented unique challenges related to the materials used and the design complexity. Thornton Tomasetti determined how the weight of each installation would impact the performance of the existing building, reinforcing the floors, walls and ceilings where necessary.
Utilizing a unique suspension system developed by Thornton Tomasetti, Jeanne Gang constructed a stone structure of interconnected puzzle-shaped pieces that formed an open funnel. The terrazzo installation by Julie Eizenberg featured an exposed wooden frame which was braced to the wall, which engineers designed to support the weight of the textured tile. Winka Dubbeldam used aerated autoclaved concrete to create two freestanding sculptures designed to mimic sound waves. The materials and irregular shapes challenged Thornton Tomasetti to devise a solution that ensured the formations remained stable.
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