Photo of the Commonground, showing the trellis structure and (upper left) green roof on the cafe. Courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro Rhino 3D model of the trellis work, with supporting towers (red) and veirendeel trusses (orange). The metal rods hang in tension from the perimeter frame and will support the growth of vines that will eventually cover the trellis.



As part of creating a healing environment beyond the four walls of a typical medical facility, Eskanazi Hospital in Indianapolis developed a sweeping outdoor space called the Commonground.  It encompasses a lawn, two water features, a cafe with a green roof, and a cable-supported trellis structure to be covered with vines.  Working closely with designers, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Land Collective and The Olin Studio, we provided structural design and advanced computational modeling services through construction administration for the trellis canopy. We also provided full construction drawings, a complete 3D digital BIM and fabrication centerline models, and supporting calculations by the end of the detail drawings phase.

A Signature Entrance

The unique canopy defines an open-air green space and features a one-story café and garden community spaces. The canopy is created by a system of perimeter beams forming four sections. In two sections, the perimeter beams are supported by cables connected to a column within each section. The perimeter beams in the two other sections are supported by a system of narrow rods that anchor to the foundation. All elements of the pavilion canopy – rods, perimeter beams and cables – provide a substrate for vines. By weaving together the structural system and plants, the distinction between traditional façade and landscape is blurred, creating a unique experience for visitors, patients and hospital staff.

A Biological Design Challenge

Because very small diameter rods were required to ensure plant attachment and growth, we created a Vierendeel truss and braced-frame system, which provides lateral stability and maintains the design intent of the project.

Read More

Related Projects

Façade Materials & Systems


Unsurpassed for transparency, tensegrity systems and cable-net façade structures can efficiently enclose long-span openings without the use of heavy, rigid trusses or frames. We use leading-edge software to design glass façades and roofs with minimal structure. Our extensive experience with form-finding for complex geometries, along with our practical knowledge of cable engineering and construction, places us at the forefront of this design trend.

Façade Materials & Systems


A variety of metals are used to wrap a building’s skin: aluminum, stainless steel, copper and zinc are notable examples. Each has its own special characteristics and can be used as rainscreen cladding, open screens, overhead enclosures or decorative elements with an array of possible shapes and configurations. We have used metals in a variety or project types, ranging from new façades to innovative re-cladding of existing structures. Our understanding of each material’s physical properties helps us provide designers with unique solutions that fulfill their design visions.