For Our Own Home

Posted on February 21st, 2014 by pmacdowell

Posted under: construction, Installations + Exhibitions, NADLAB

Unable to find suitable stands for our architectural models, we commissioned ourselves to build a custom set of steel tables.

modelStands00Each table has a simple frame of 1″ square tube. The steel is cut to length with double-bevels (yay for our new lubricated band saw), jigged square, and tacked together.

modelStands01aResolving the corners of the implied box is the key detail of the design. The cleanly-executed welds are left unground and exposed.

modelStands02The frames are topped with a raw 3/16″ plate and fitted with leveling/locking casters.

modelStands03Our models, in the NADAAA gallery space.

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DFALD Section Model

Posted on January 22nd, 2014 by pmacdowell

Posted under: _Daniels Building, NADLAB

A large section-model of our proposed design for the University of Toronto Daniels Faculty of Architecture and Urban Design was commissioned for an on-site exhibition.  Challenged by an extremely fast delivery schedule, the model was an opportunity to flex our digital design and fabrication capabilities.

sectionModel_01The 7’x3′ landscape is cut on our CNC router out of laminated fiber board.

sectionModel_03The model base incorporates a internal steel frame for strength and rigidity.

sectionModel_11aModel pieces are cut on the router, cleaned, and arrayed for ease of assembly

sectionModel_08A system of interlocking joints ensures strong, accurate connections and incredibly rapid assembly.

sectionModel_13The model is pegged, clamped, and glued like a robust piece of furniture.


_MG_0321The completed model on display at the University of Toronto Faculty of Architecture and Landscape Design.

DSC_1017BMany parts of the model, like the roof surface, required milling on both sides.

DSC_1024A laser-cut jig was used to accurately position the decorative fins on the north facade of the building.


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Posted on January 15th, 2014 by pmacdowell

Posted under: construction, Installations + Exhibitions, NADLAB

For the Manhattan office of engineering firm Simpson, Gumpertz and Heger we harnessed the material and processes frequently analyzed by SGH staff to produce minimal furniture for their copy-room and reception area. The pieces were built by NADAAA in our Boston fabrication space.

_MG_1200Plate steel is plasma-cut off-site.  Extruded stock is cut and prepared in-house.

_MG_1280The CNC-cut plates are used to jig the steel frames of the shelving units, which are fully-welded, then tacked to the plate.

_MG_1294Blocking and clamps are used for fit-up, ensuring all elements are square and parallel.

_MG_1337The randomized fin pattern of the reception desk is achieved with spacers of different widths. These spacers ensure that all fins are perfectly parallel. The fins are subtly tacked to the back of the frames so that the connection is not visible.


_MG_1357The 3/8″ thick base plates of the reception desk are leveled and the vertical elements are plumbed, clamped, and welded.

_MG_1369The reception desk is built in three monolithic elements, each carefully designed with respect to the clearances necessary for installation.

_MG_1314Parke failed to measure the truck… good thing he’s lucky.

sgh_nyc_01aThe robust copy-room tables and shelves resolve functional requirements with an absolute minimum of details: Vertical planes float past slender vertical members.

sgh_receptionDesk_00The reception desk operates as an “inflated” I-beam, with blackened-steel plates connected by a web of irregularly spaced fins.

sgh_receptionDesk_01The patterning of the fins creates shifting perceptions of transparency and opacity from different vantages.

sgh_receptionDesk_04Welds are placed in such a way that the end product reads as a pure assemblage of orthogonal planes.



Posted on January 8th, 2014 by pmacdowell

Posted under: construction, Installations + Exhibitions, NADLAB

The architectural explorations of NADAAA are launched with a bias towards material behavior—tapping into a material’s predisposition, whether it is malleability, translucency, structural rigidity or another property. These properties, in turn, offer geometric opportunities, freeing up the architectural figure from the constraints of the orthogonal box, while also enabling a more reciprocal relationship between form and program, figure and organization, or function and envelope.

Our in-house fabrication capabilities allow us to interrogate our conceptual inclinations toward material in immediate and physical ways.  Our interest in flexible, shingled cladding systems has spurred several trajectories of material exploration, shared below. These preliminary exercises inform our design process, catalyzing the dialogue between ideas, materials, tools, and making.

This work is currently exhibited at the SCIN Gallery in London.


1Flexible composite panel: Cherry veneer bonded to a rubber substrate


Flexible composite panel: Silicone rubber, cast in a digitally fabricated mold, reinforced with steel wire mesh.


3Flexible composite panel: Translucent urethane rubber, directionally-reinforced with stainless steel wire.


4The flexible composite panel pairs the malleability of silicone rubber with the strength of stainless steel.  The panel’s translucency reveals the architecture of its directional-reinforcement.


NADAAA_021:4 scale rainscreen mock-up.  The flexible shingle displayed in this system is a wood veneer laminated to a recycled rubber substrate with marine epoxy.  The veneer is sealed with satin exterior-grade polyurethane.  Dims: 45″ x 30″ x 15″


NADAAA_03Full-scale flexible shingle made of translucent silicone rubber, directionally-reinforced with stainless steel rods.  The panel is hung from a steel frame with integral lighting.  Dims: 45″ x 30″ x 5″


Geometry emerges as negotiation between material and fabrication processes, while also proving to be a figurative device that is larger than the sum of constructive parts. As such, as the research develops from the scale of the installation to the scope of buildings, the complexity of wall and assembly systems assume broader responsibilities, synthesizing environmental aspects of the building with programmatic goals while also addressing the civic presence of the building within its context.

THU_REN_019aOur concept proposal for Thunder Stadium features flexible-shingled cladding similar to the prototypes shared here.  The project employs this versatile  envelope toward the reconciliation of various forces: materials, tectonic systems, programmatic pressure as well as the urban presence of the stadium within the historic core of St. Paul.





Aesop East Hampton

Posted on January 2nd, 2014 by pmacdowell

Posted under: construction, Installations + Exhibitions, NADLAB

The carefully articulated textures of Aesop East Hampton leverage novel detailing to deliver a visually and tactilely engaging retail space. A band of digitally-fabricated pegboard shelving panels emerges from the  large window at the fore of the space, providing a flexible means of displaying product and embedding hidden Morse code messages.  A large soapstone basin with vintage garden taps sits on a steel base in the center of the room while the point-of-sale island anchors the rear of the space. The feature elements of the project were fabricated in-house at our Boston office and installed onsite by the NADAAA team.

01_beauty_newsThe completed retail space.

rhinoscriptingPatternCustom computer codes generate the varied peg-board pattern and hidden morse-code messages.

toolpathVisualizationThe CNC-cutting process for each wall panel is digitally simulated before fabrication.

_MG_0090Finished panels are staged in the shop, awaiting transport to the project site.

IMG_2210A specialized jig is used to cut the shelving pegs for the wall panel system.

IMG_0485Welding the steel base for the soapstone sink.

_MG_0095A timber mock-up representing the soapstone sink is used to evaluate faucet design.

solderingThe faucet hardware for the sink is soldered on site.

aesop-east-hampton-4-thumb-620x413-58808The custom soapstone sink is centrally located in the retail space.

_MG_0087The point-of-sale counter is fabricated in the shop, then disassembled for transport to the site.

EDIT01The point-of-sale island secrets the necessary retail electronics and tools behind a variation of the perforated scheme used on the walls of the store.

EDIT02The wall panels mounted to the wall with z-clips on furring strips.

aesop_eh_millworkinstall_17The wall panel system emerges from the window to wrap around the retail space.

aesop_eh_millworkinstall_04Corner detailing.


02_beauty_news_1The pegboard pattern maps continuously over panel seams.  Shelving can be easily reconfigured to accommodate evolving product lines.





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Posted on November 26th, 2013 by pmacdowell

Posted under: construction, Installations + Exhibitions, NADLAB

Recently, the warped ceiling surface of the DFALD Level 3 design studios came under scrutiny as a major cost item during DD cost estimating.  Conventional building practice suggested that the complex form could only be achieved with hand-troweled plaster on metal lathe.  We proposed an alternative methodology using simple framing with cost-effective sheetrock and proved the viability of the concept with a 1:1 mock-up, fabricated in-house.  The mock-up convinced the construction team and reduced estimated costs by more than 50%.






UT_mockup_01c2×4 metal studs are cut to length and attached in the proper orientation for mounting rails.  Stud locations are measured and marked on the rails.  Because they are different lengths, stud spacing is 11-7/8” o.c. on one rail and 12-1/4” o.c. on the other.


UT_mockup_02Spanning studs are attached to the mounting rails.  As the geometry twists, the studs get longer, so each stud must be cut to a unique length.  The shortest stud, in the foreground, is 126-1/2”.  The longest, at the far end of the structure is 135-1/4”.


UT_mockup_03Because the studs have been spaced equally along both mounting rails, straight lines can be struck across the twisting surface.  Support members may be run through the knock-outs of the studs to reinforce the structure.


UT_mockup_06We chose to unify the structure with more 2×4 studs above the spanning members.  We achieved straight lines by dividing the first and last spanning members into thirds and running the reinforcement between those points.  Additional members attach the system to the structure above.  Note that both the mounting rails and the spanning members twist to accommodate the curvature of the surface.


UT_mockup_08Gold Bond “High Flex” gypsum board (1/4”  thick) is cut into 12” wide strips and attached to the frame, perpendicular to the spanning studs.  We did not need to score or wet the gypsum boards. The joints between boards are staggered to reduce the appearance of facets on the surface.

UT_mockup_09BThere are inherent geometric errors when mapping  rectangular sheets onto a doubly-ruled surface.  The maximum gap size we observed was approximately 3/4”.


UT_mockup_10Gaps between panels are relatively inconsequential at this stage, as this layer of gypsum will simply act as a substrate for the second, final layer.

UT_mockup_15BThe second layer of gypsum is hung perpendicular to the first.  These sheets are screwed directly to the first layer, avoiding the studs everywhere except the perimeter of the surface.


UT_mockup_20The rough edges of the sheets are cut back to the bounds of the surface and trimmed with corner bead.  Joints and screw holes are taped and mudded.


UT_mockup_21The surface is shown here after a single application of joint compound (Level 2 finish).  The joints are still wet and are not sanded.


UT_mockup_22The form is clean, with no apparent  inconsistencies or planar facets.



Cold Rolled

Posted on September 30th, 2013 by kpierson

Posted under: construction, Installations + Exhibitions, NADLAB

Installation of copy room steelwork by NADAAA



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