The project is a pavilion for the Chicago Architecture Biennial, installed permanently as a public amenity and vendor kiosk in Grant Park, facing Lake Michigan.
The design, drawing inspiration from the long-span structures of Mies van der Rohe and the Eames film Powers of Ten, proposes a 56' square flat roof made entirely out of mass timber, aiming to provide as large a space as possible for the Biennial and the City of Chicago with a minimum environmental and economic impact.
The kiosk is a flexible space that catalyzes social exchange. The kiosk’s innovative structure allows for large spans and a generosity of open space that can accommodate a truly public engagement with the city. In addition to this being a place of exchange for goods, the space allows for the free exchange of ideas in connection with the exhibition programming. Through talks, films and workshops, the public walks away with ideas.
The project was the result of a close collaboration between architects, engineers, and fabricators. Design decisions were the result of ongoing, overlapping conversations between disciplines. As a result, the entire pavilion was designed and built in only ten weeks. Supported at only thirteen points, the carbon negative, mass timber structure is the first point-supported two-way wood roof built to date. The fin columns are distributed in a finely tuned radial pattern to respond to lateral loads and uplift; their orientation creates an intense focus on the space and activities central to the pavilion while simultaneously directing it outwards towards the horizon. The expansive plane of the long-span roof is interrupted by only the structural columns and two chain link volumes stretched between roof and ground. Radical simplicity underlies a subtle and varied experience. The lateral reach of the roof recalibrates the experience of two extremes of the Chicago landscape: at ground level, the Lake Michigan horizon dominates, forming a line of symmetry between ground and canopy. From the viewing platform, the roof becomes a new artificial horizon, shutting out the foreground and emphasizing the vertical skyline above an abstract floating plane.