Archive for the ‘NYSci’ Category

Design Lab: Press Preview and Opening Reception

Last night we joined press, family, and friends for a reception and preview of Design Lab. Although officially open to the public this Saturday June 7th, programming in Studio, Sandbox, Makerspace and Backstage was in full swing!

New York Hall of Science's opening reception for the Design Lab at NySci in Queens, New York

Photo by Andrew Kelly for the New York Hall of Science.

SITU partner Aleksey Lukyanov-Cherny shared a few words about the making of Design Lab and Margaret Honey, President and CEO of the New York Hall of Science, spoke about the future of making and design at the museum.

New York Hall of Science's opening reception for the Design Lab at NySci in Queens, New York

Photo by Andrew Kelly for the New York Hall of Science.

New York Hall of Science's opening reception for the Design Lab at NySci in Queens, New York

Photo by Andrew Kelly for the New York Hall of Science.

NYSCI members and their families enjoyed the workshops in Design Lab’s five activity areas as fellows and staff guided the young visitors in model-making and building throughout the evening.

New York Hall of Science's opening reception for the Design Lab at NySci in Queens, New York

‘Happy City’ model-making in the Studio.
Photo by Andrew Kelly for the New York Hall of Science.

New York Hall of Science's opening reception for the Design Lab at NySci in Queens, New York

Building dowel structures in the Sandbox.
Photo by Andrew Kelly for the New York Hall of Science.

New York Hall of Science's opening reception for the Design Lab at NySci in Queens, New York

Shadow puppet making workshop in the Studio.
Photo by Andrew Kelly for the New York Hall of Science.

To learn more about Design Lab click here, or visit the New York Hall of Science’s website.

Design Lab: Install Roundup

Since early 2012, we’ve had our hands full designing, fabricating and finally installing Design Lab, a new permanent exhibition space in NYSCI’s lower pavilion with five activity areas where visitors of all ages can tinker with creative solutions to scientific and technological challenges. While some of the workshops are already in use by school groups, kids and families, Design Lab is finally near completion and will officially open to the public next Saturday, June 7th. We want to seize the opportunity and roundup the installation process so far.

photo by Andrew Kelly for the New York Hall of Science

Design Lab, close to completion in late May.
Photo by Andrew Kelly for the New York Hall of Science.

Design Lab invites makers to look at materials around them in new ways while engaging in activities, experiments and challenges that provide a deeper understanding of the engineering and design process. From developing self-propelling model cars to making colorful, scented candles, Design Lab offers loads of exciting programming year round.

The five activity areas
– Backstage, where visitors can invent solutions to a perfect performance of light, shadow and motion, is already in use.

photo by Andrew Kelly for the New York Hall of Science

Children create puppets for a shadow play in the Backstage.
Photo by Andrew Kelly for the New York Hall of Science.

– Sandbox, where visitors can build sturdy structures from wooden dowels and rubber bands they can stand inside, opened a few months ago.

photo by Andrew Kelly for the New York Hall of Science

Photo by Andrew Kelly for the New York Hall of Science.

– Studio, where visitors can construct a lit up model city with the help of electric circuits, already houses aspiring architects, electric engineers and lighting designers.


NYSCI visitors imagine their “Happy City” with paper models and electric circuits in the Studio. Photo by Patrick Mandeville.

– Treehouse, where visitors can explore gravity, shape and air resistance, is the last space nearing completion for the opening next week.


Photo by Patrick Mandeville.

– Maker Space, where visitors will learn to use tools that convert design ideas into prototypes, opened in 2012.

photo by Andrew Kelly for the New York Hall of Science

Photo by Andrew Kelly for the New York Hall of Science.

Watch the growth of Design Lab in time lapse:

Design Lab: Treehouse Install

We have begun installing Treehouse, the fifth and last of the workshop spaces we are creating in The New York Hall of Science’s Central Pavilion.


Photo by Patrick Mandeville.

The Treehouse is composed of a series of curving vertical ribs constructed from baltic birch plywood. Each rib is shipped in sections, and assembled on site before being hoisted into place.


Photo by Patrick Mandeville.


Photo by Patrick Mandeville.

After the vertical ribs are erected, a second system of horizontal shelves is inserted to create a rigid grid structure. Lastly, the timber joists and plywood subfloor are installed to create the upper platform of the Treehouse.


Photo by Patrick Mandeville.

Expanding over two levels and located at the center of the pavilion, Treehouse will serve as an observation point at the heart of Design Lab. Its elevated vantage point will also allow Design Lab visitors to learn about gravity and air resistance, for example by inventing and building “flying” contraptions, dropping them from a height, and observing their flight characteristics.


Design Lab: Backstage Install

With the installation of the Backstage, the fourth out of five distinct learning environments that will make up the NYSCI Design Lab, we are making another big leap forward towards the completion of the project in June 2014.


Photo by Patrick Mandeville.

The defining architectural feature of the backstage is a cantilevered welded steel truss with a bent perforated metal mesh skin. Mobile furniture, made of aluminum pipe and standard pipe fittings, allow the open floor area to be easily reconfigured.


Fabricator Lars Christensen installing on-site. Photo by Patrick Mandeville.


Photo by Patrick Mandeville.

© Andrew Kelly, NYSCI

© Andrew Kelly, NYSCI

Once finished, kids will use the Backstage to experiment with all the behind-the-scenes ingredients that go into a theatrical production – from rigging to lighting to costume design. It will be a flexible space that can be transformed to accommodate a variety of activities and group sizes.
We are looking forward to seeing the little makers at NYSCI getting creative in the Backstage!


Surveying the Great Hall

Directly above our Design Lab project at the New York Hall of Science, one of the most unique spaces in New York City is currently undergoing major restoration work. The Great Hall, also known as the Cathedral of Science, is a 7,000 square foot exhibition space enclosed by a 100 foot tall scalloped dalle de verre façade, where 5400 inch-thick panels of cobalt blue glass are cast into concrete tiles and then set into cast-in-place concrete cells. Restoration work entails tediously waterproofing each of the cells and cleaning the tiles with a latex application. In order to access each of the tiles, an elaborate scaffold has been constructed in the Great Hall, echoing the undulation of the concrete walls with a matrix of metal pipes and wooden planks.


Photo by Patrick Mandeville.

To us, the scaffolding construction is just as impressive as the original building. Standard, off-the-shelf units, typically used for rectilinear construction, gradually curve into and around each turn of the façade. Straight wooden planks overlap and spread as the pathways transition from concave to convex. The construction is an architecture within another architecture, built to allow for inhabitation of the space not intended by the original architect. The construction is built with an economy of materials and time; built for a specific purpose, without aesthetic consideration. The combination of the architectures, the original Great Hall, and the scaffold recalls the work of our enormously inspirational former professor and friend, Lebbeus Woods.


Photo by Patrick Mandeville.


Photo by Patrick Mandeville.

To document the moment in the history of the building and to inhabit this extraordinary space, we’re attempting to fly a time-lapse camera through the middle of the space. The project entails building a camera rig where we will be able to slowly lift a time-lapse camera 70 feet from floor to ceiling. As the camera rises and falls over 3 hours the camera will be slowly rotating and tilting to survey the space with a corkscrew motion. To see the design and construction of the rig and some of the footage, have a look at the little ‘making of video’ we’ve put together here:

Design Lab: The Treehouse

The Treehouse is the center workshop-space of the total of six spaces making up Design Lab. Centered in the middle of The New York Hall of Science’s Central Pavilion, the current heart of this historic facility that features hundreds of hands-on exhibitions ranging from molecular biology to physics.


Each of Design Lab’s six spaces is designed to accommodate a range of earning styles, with particular attention to problem ideation research, and display, encouraging visitors to share ideas, reflect on precedents, and examine problems from a variety of perspectives.

In The Treehouse visitors will explore physics from gravity, air resistance, fluid dynamics — by inventing and building contraptions, dropping them from a height, and documenting and observing the results. Challenges will range from designing “air dancers” that fall slowly and graceful to designing a vehicle to protect an egg from breaking.


Close-up of model construction

The Treehouse is a vertical space design that functions on two levels. In part it elevates its audience above ground in the look-out pods, where they will be able to observe the activities happening all over Design Lab as well as the exhibitions on the mezzanine.


Rendering overview of The Treehouse

To learn more about Design Lab in its design phase visit our project page here, and stay tuned for process news as we introduce the remaining workshop-spaces and begin fabrication.

#designab #designismaknig

Making is Design: Makers, Shakers and Innovators

As part of the research for Design Lab we want to get our hands dirty and learn from the wondrous experimental community of makers and tinkers in Brooklyn and beyond.

We’ve stumbled upon Brooklyn Brainery upon a local crowd-sourced community education space, that hosts classes on all topics imaginable from physics, HTML, toy hacking, to shorthand – (you’ll learn how to write fast and indecipherable to most eyes, very convenient for private subway scribbles.)


One of latest additions of educators is NYC Makery. This team of innovation makers has previously hosted a series of pop-up workshops where youth and adult were invited to tinker, experiment and design through making. Hands-on learning and experimentation is at the heart of these workshops, and we’re amazed to see how a chance gift of balloons turned one of the kids into a camera-hacker that created an awesome aerial photography device.


The idea of asking youth “what will you make today” rather than “today we’ll learn about” is the driving motivator for the spirit of NYC Makery and Design Lab alike. The re-design of The New York Hall of Science’s new exhibition space is divided into five separate workshop-spaces were visitors are encouraged to participate and design objects through hands-on making. Our belief that “making is design” bleeds into our own process of designing Design Lab from concept to finished space. We make sure to switch out our office chairs with tools to build features and objects that will be part of the end result.

To learn more about prototyping and our fabrication to design process click here, and to explore Design Lab in its design phase please visit our project page for Design Lab.

All Photographs courtesy of Makery NYC

#designlab #makingisdesign



Design Lab: Sandbox Prototyping

We have finished the design development phase of Design Lab for and have started to develop 1:1 scale prototypes. Here are two of thesketches of a feature element – a plywood cabinet that serve both as seating and storage in The Sandbox: a space dedicated to full-scale building and experimentation through hands-on design and learning.


Sketch of the seating and storage cabinets that outline the Sandbox area for full-scale construction of objects.


Sketch for individual cabinet construction

This is first prototyping of storage cabinets that will be a feature element of The Sandbox. These cabinets function both as storage for materials for large-scale hands-on building projects, as well as seating. The seats are incorporated into a low perimeter of drawers and shelving that rises up to become display shelves near the entry stair. This area provides space for observation and interactive touch-screens allow visitors to browse the work of previous participants and to conduct research for their own projects.



1:1 Prototype


This prototype cabinet made for storage of rubber bands for building towers and domes out of wooden dowels

Design Lab is a large scale re-design of the New York Hall of Science’s new exhibition space.

To learn more about Design Lab click here  #designlab #designismaking

Design Lab: The Dollhouse

One component of the Design Lab at the New York Hall of Science – the “Dollhouse” – will be used for hand-scale projects, such as making models of buildings and cities. The perimeter of the space is composed of shelving for both display and materials storage. A continuous horizontal surface called the “aggregator” will provide space for kids to display what they have made and to build on the ideas of other participants. In response to the program’s emphasis on craft and making by hand, the structure of the dollhouse will be based on traditional timber construction. For both the walls and ceiling, wood framing will be laid out in a triangulated tessellation pattern and joined with connectors that are integral to the plywood cladding. To allow passers-by to see in, some parts of the perimeter are left open, and some parts of the cladding are perforated. The perforations echo the tessellated geometry of the framing.

dollhouse aggregator

The Aggregator

dollhouse front-BLOG1

Front View of the Dollhouse

dollhouse plan

Plan of the Dollhouse

Design Lab: Design Development


We’re moving into the design development phase for Design Lab, the new exhibition space Situ Studio is designing for the New York Hall of Science. Over the next 7 months we’ll be working with the Museum to finalize the plans for the space and are working towards an opening in June 2014.

Design Lab Model

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