Design Lab: Sandbox Fabrication

These weeks we are fabricating the first of Design Lab’s five workshop spaces at bldg. 132 in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. All components for Sandbox are milled on site, paneled, and installed in stages at New York Hall of Science in Queens. One of the feature elements in this largely open space is a plywood cabinet desk with built-in storage. Sandbox is a workshop area dedicated to large-scale building and experimentation. See the latest rendering and overview of Sandbox here




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

Beaux Arts Ball Roundup

This year the 69th Regiment Armory housed more than a thousand guests and a handful of large puppets for a night of festivities and performance at The Architectural League’s annual Beaux Arts Ball.

We spent 48 hours transforming the Armory’s Drill Hall into a landscape of ethereal floating lightweight structures hovering above the floor, spent a night of dancing underneath underneath a live feed projection mapping, sound installations and lighting design, and finally spent a Sunday uninstalling.

We just finished a video that documents the process from rigging to final party. Watch below


Photo Keith Sirchio
Entrance to the cavernous Drill Hall at the 69th Regiment Armory.


Photo Fran Parente


Photo Keith Sirchio
Processional Arts Workshop designed 14 ft tall mylar puppets who along with performers roamed throughout the dance floor.


Photo Design Wire
The theme for this year’s Ball was -ism, and Situ colleague James welded his as cubism-inspired costume


Photo Keith Sirchio


Photo Keith Sirchio


Photo Patrick Mandeville

See more photos from this year’s Beaux Arts Ball and learn more about our environment design here

Environment Design: The Architectural League of New York’s Beaux Arts Ball

On September 28th, The Architectural League will hosts its annual Beaux Arts Ball in the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue and 25th Street. The Beaux Arts Ball takes inspiration from and responds to the building where it is held, and the remarkable interior and enduring legacy of the 1913 art exhibition the Armory once housed is no exception.

blog1Armory space

69th Regiment Armory space as it appears today

We are designing and building an environment that will transform the space for a single evening alongside a responsive lighting design by Renfro Design Group, a performance installation of large-scale puppets by Processional Arts Workshop, a music and sound installation by Nathan Halpern (with Mary Lattimore and Chris Ruggiero) and a DJ set by Detroit-native Jon Santos.

To occupy this immense 28,0000 square foot space we have designed an array of tensegrity structures that will rise above and dip below and existing cable grid datum 20 feet overhead.

blog2Model Close up

Photo by Patrick Mandeville.

Study-model made out of string and paper. Notice how the toy soldiers are the perfect scale ratio.

This faceted, diaphanous landscape will become transformed to a dynamic site where a horde of colossal puppets (designed, build and activated by Processional Arts Workshop) will roam throughout the night. To see a video of the puppets swaying through the streets of SoHo click here

The massive, yet – lightweight, structures that frame various programs of the Ball are designed with structural efficiency and made of simple modular components typically used in the construction industry: the fire-retardant polyethylene sheets made from recycled resins typically used as a vapor barrier in concrete curing, while the compression members are comprised of off-the-shelf, unaltered, aluminum electrical conduit.


Full-scale mock up of structural design about Situ Fabrication in the Brooklyn Navy Yard

Given the temporary nature of the environment, Situ is mindful of the source and life of the material it is employing; after the event, polyethylene fabric and nylon rope will be re-purposed for theater productions while the aluminum conduit will be returned to its supplier.

Beaux Arts Ball 2013 – Design Preview from Situ Studio on Vimeo.

The project will be immersive, combining spatial interventions, live video feed, projections and performance into a single ephemeral environment that will disappear almost as soon as it materializes.

Drive Change Photo Diary: Design Phase and Interior Remodeling

We’re moving along in our process of getting Drive Change‘s first food truck on the road this winter. First stop on its route is Shanghai MKS – a family-owned and operated business and the go-to place for interior construction for food trucks in New York City. While they work on remodeling the interior of this old Con-Ed truck, we’ll finish up the design at the studio and prepare for installation of the exterior panels at building 132 in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Here’s a series of photos from our kick-off design meeting and a few before-photos of the truck in its original state.

Stay tuned as the truck arrives at bldg. 132 in the Brooklyn Navy Yard in early November and we begin fabrication.






We’ll continue to document the journey of Drive Change’s first food truck from sketch to final truck #justtruck

Photos The IS Collective 

Design Lab: Backstage

Backstage is the fifth and final space we have finished designing for Design Lab at The New York Hall of Science. It lends its name to the activities that will take place in a hands-on learning space dedicated to experimenting with all the ingredients that go into a theatrical productions from rigging to lightening, to costume design.


Model of the Backstage

Backstage is a flexible space that can transform to accommodate variety of activities and group sizes.

2013 05 15 DesignLab_materialsponsor.indd

Rolling tables, sewing machines, and mannequins will be brought out for costume design, shadow puppet shows will be staged at moveable freestanding projection screens, lights will be lowered and raised on pulleys in order to change their gels and adjust their angles, and groups will gather around tackboard partitions for problem ideation and display of results.

Backstage marks the final introduction to the four new spaces that along with Maker Space will make up Design Lab. In the next weeks will we start documenting the transition from the design phase into prototyping, creating study models and mock-ups before fabrication begins at our Brooklyn Navy Yard Space.

#designlab #designismaking

Design Lab: The Fort

This week we are taking a closer look at The Fort. In the past few months we have introduced the designs for The Dollhouse, Sandbox  and The Treehouse The Fort marks the fourth in a series of six workspace designs that will make up Design Lab.

Below is the latest built model of The Fort.


The Fort is especially designed for body/scale design. In practice this means full-scale building and prototyping activities such as furniture making and hatching plans for survival on a deserted island will take place in The Fort.


Modular concrete blocks form the enclosure of this space, and the blocks also function as storage cabinets, display boxes and pegboards. Their stacking pattern provides windows for passers-by to peek in and see what’s happening inside. Small nooks will allow slower starters to observe and research on their own, before jumping into the collaborative activities.


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 in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

#designab #designismaknig

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

Building Food Trucks for Social Justice

That is the ambition of Drive Change, a newly initiated New York City based food truck business, and an alternative education program, dedicated to teaching transferable skills to youth re-entering society from the criminal justice system.

Situ Studio is excited to have partnered up with this organisation to build a series of food trucks, the first one, hitting the streets in early Fall of 2013.

Drive Change Launch Film. Learn more about the fundraising campaign here.

A Side of Social Justice

Jordyn Lexton, the founder of Drive Change spent three years teaching young people at East River Academy, a public school serving the youth incarcerated at Riker Island. Quickly, she noticed how frequently that population of people would recycle through the system, recycle back into the classroom, back into the jail. That left Jordyn asking why is this happening at such a high rate?

One of the more apparent and frustrating reasons is the fact that New York State is one of only two states (North Carolina is the other) that automatically arrests 16-year-olds as adults.

Once released, these young adults are 85 percent more likely to commit violent crimes than young criminals who were sent to rehabilitative programs.

Because they are treated like adults by the criminal justice system these young adults leave with open felonies on their records making it extremely hard, if not impossible to find a job or go back to school, social services are limited, while Jordyn notes that: “kids are also internalizing that sense of being a criminal. So the doors of opportunities are just shut on their faces when they leave.”

Founder, Jordyn Lexton and Annie Bickerton, Director of Development go foodtruck shopping on Long Island.

Drive Change wants to build a foodtruck that not only caters to a New York gourmet foodie’s high standards, but also motivates its employers to take ownership and pride in their work space. Drive change and Situ Studio wants to construct a foodtruck where both the tactile experiences of food and touch are emphasized.

Visually, the foodtruck will embrace the dynamic between industrial and organic materials, and even food ingredients. NY State maple syrup is a key ingredient in the menu, while an re-purposed Con-Ed truck is the skeleton of the truck.


To help Drive Change realize their first goal, go here to donate. There’s 16 days left!

We will be documenting Drive Change and Situ Studio’s food truck’s journey from concept, model, to finished truck.

Follow Situ Studio on Facebook and Twitter #justtrucks for updates.

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