Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum

Date:               Spring 2012
Architect:         Zaha Hadid Architects
Fabricator:       Zahner
Location:         Michigan State University, East Lansing

The Broad Art Museum Project on the Michigan State Campus in East Lansing Michigan provided a unique challenge to as the fabrication process was developed based on a tight 1mm tolerance. Using a fully defined digital model, every component was verified for clearances within the façade system as well as with other subtrade interfaces. The complex nature of the skin panels prescribed the use of a series of CNC equipment to develop the custom finish and shape. The quality control data for each step in the process was logged and analyzed to inform and adjust each subsequent fabrication processes ensuring a perfect component.

Secondly, the process involved the use of multiple state of the art survey technologies to verify the initial conditions of the building substrate and iteratively guide the positions of Zahner hardware and finished skin panels to their theoretical position. The survey technology and verification became critical in development the facades’ signature feature.

Zaha Hadid Architects’ developed a series of louver fins as the daylight modulation for the building’s large glass facades. These fins, while delicate in the context of the façade, ranged in span from 35 to 50 feet and had a depth of 4’ to 6’ each. Due to the dynamic nature of freestanding columns of this size, numerous deflection considerations lead to a design with extremely high tolerance for a structural element. This fact coupled with the large number of components within the fin system lead the fabricator to peruse continuous integration of as-built data in the fabrication and design process. Each complete component was analyzed with a laser scan devices and new, as-built 3D models were integrated into the digital model to inform and adjust the fabrication of subsequent components. The finished components did not suffer from the traditional additive nature of fabrication tolerance and instead were shipped to site with a known as-built geometry. This geometry was used as the basis for the placement of connections to the building’s structure giving the fabricator’s field personnel the greatest flexibility to install the large fin louvers to their theoretical position defined in the architectural 3D model.

Photography by: Zahner

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Zaha Hadid Architects