Kansas State University: Boundary Object

Project Description

Material systems play a critical role throughout our design process and informs our thinking as we make places. Buildings and spaces need to become a heightened journey of varying tactile experiences.

Project Details

  • Client Kansas State University
  • Completed 2012

Material systems play a critical role throughout our design process and informs our thinking as we make places. Buildings and spaces need to become a heightened journey of varying tactile experiences. Our goal is to make spaces that are human-centered and play on all the senses. We choose to deploy honest and authentic materials harvested from the place in which the building will be rooted. Moreover, it is essential to conceive a building which strives to achieve a lasting aesthetic and resonates…

Material systems play a critical role throughout our design process and informs our thinking as we make places. Buildings and spaces need to become a heightened journey of varying tactile experiences. Our goal is to make spaces that are human-centered and play on all the senses. We choose to deploy honest and authentic materials harvested from the place in which the building will be rooted. Moreover, it is essential to conceive a building which strives to achieve a lasting aesthetic and resonates with its place.

Several years ago, our team interviewed for Kansas State University College of Architecture Planning and Design. The interview was spirited and passionate and centered on a tactile object. This object is fabricated from Bayer Limestone quarried in St. Mary’s Kansas and Hedge wood harvested from the Kansas landscape.

Complimentary yet contradictory, these materials offer unique properties that can only be discovered when making the object. The Hedge Tree, a very dense and rot resistant wood is considered the natural fence post that defined the Kansas landscape. The tree’s form and properties were influenced by the natural forces of the Midwest and grew out of the soils of the prairie. The density of the hedge made shaping, cutting and finishing the wood extremely difficult. In spite of that difficulty, the final outcome yielded a glowing rich amber and striking grain patterns.

Contrast that with limestone, sedimentary layers of earth compressed by the forces of nature for hundreds of years. The stone is surprisingly soft and easily shaped. We are intrigued by the varying colors, finishes and textures it could yield. Carefully married with a steel and copper mortise and tenon joint, the two manicured raw materials compliment beautifully as one cohesive object.

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