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Vault201 on exhibit now through January 2011 in NYC

August 13, 2010

© Smithsonian Institution. Image credits: VAULT201: Design team: John Ochsendorf, Philippe Block, Lara Davis, Florence Guiraud Doughty, Scott Ferebee, Emily Lo, Mallory Taub, Sze Ngai Ting, Robin Willis, Masonry Research Group, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Installation crew: Masoud Akbarzadeh, Michael Cohen, Samantha Cohen, Lara Davis, Samuel Kronick, Fabiana Meacham, Mallory Taub, Sze Ngai Ting. LEARNING LANDSCAPE: Emily Pilloton, Heleen de Goey, Dan Grossman, Kristina Drury, Neha Thatte, Matthew Miller, and Ilona de Jongh, Project H Design. INDI 002, ALAR 002, AND AZHA CUSTOM WALLPAPERS: (left to right). Jee Levin and Randall Buck, Trove. RETURN TO SENDER ARTISAN ECO-CASKET: Greg Holdsworth, Return to Sender Eco-Caskets


The triennial exhibition, Why Design Now?, is now open to the public at the Cooper Hewitt National Museum of Design in New York.  Vault201 is one of many exciting projects on display that show diverse and innovative ideas of how design can address environmental and social responsibility.  If you have the opportunity to go to the museum any time before January 2011, all you have to do is walk up the main staircase, glance to the right, and you cannot miss Vault201 standing elegantly at the end of the gallery.  Unfortunately, you are not allowed to climb and jump on top of it like we did for our prototype at MIT in January (see earlier posts for images of that!), but you can walk underneath it and see first-hand the undulating surface built out of a single layer of bricks…the thinness ratio of an eggshell!

You will also see the beautiful bricks manufactured by Green Leaf bricks made out of 100%  post-consumer and post-industrial recycled material…including 30% processed sewage waste.  Don’t worry, after baking the bricks at 1,900 degrees and adding in all the other materials, there is no smell…only a stunning and robust building material proving that we can build effectively by mining the stream of societal waste.

This project has been a long process in which we have learned much about structural design, digital fabrication, vault construction techniques, brick manufacturing, and museum installation.  Given the series of challenges throughout the project, it is very satisfying and humbling to see our brick vault in a major exhibition in such a beautiful, historic building.

So what’s next for Vault201? Five months remain before we must deconstruct it – carefully, brick by brick – to protect the historic wooden floors!


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