Wednesday, April 13, 2011

3D Printing Helps Architects of African American Museum Save Time and Money

Today’s guest blog is from Julie Reece, Z Corp.’s Director of Marketing Communications.

Moody•Nolan, an award-winning architectural firm designing the International African American Museum, is using Z Corp.’s 3D printing technology to accelerate the design cycle, save money on concept models, and help ensure the building properly expresses the story of Africans in America. Moody•Nolan architects streamline design and review by printing physical 3D models using a ZPrinter 650.
The Charleston, S.C., edifice will reflect the fact that more slaves entered North America through the city than any other. Now in the conceptual design stage, the $80 million museum will also chronicle African American progress in the ensuing centuries. It is slated to open in 2015.

“We’ve considered the entire African American narrative, the bad and the good, as we select materials, conceive the spaces and forms, and review our work with the project founders,” said Michael Woods, Moody•Nolan, Inc. associate and one of the project designers. “ZPrinting enables us to quickly create early massing models and produce presentation models with accurate detail we never could have obtained even after weeks of handcrafting. The steering committee, mayor and city planners were simply amazed by our most recent models.”

Moody•Nolan, Inc. uses Z Corp.’s ZPrinter® 650, because it delivers the industry’s biggest models, highest throughput, highest-quality color and finest resolution.

The museum is intended to be a “window” into the African American story, a concept embodied in the glassy façade overlooking Liberty Park. During gatherings in the park, guests will be able to see glimpses of the museum’s interior. The East-facing facade can also be viewed as a window looking back to Africa.

Courtesy of City of Charleston Website

“This is a sophisticated building with a lot to say, and ZPrinting helps us convey concepts and details to numerous audiences, each in a way that makes the most impact,” said Woods. “We can ZPrint a new model from any of our four software packages – MicroStation, Revit, form•Z, and Google SketchUp – 10 times faster and at a fraction of the cost of handcrafting. The more complex the models, the greater the savings.”

ZPrinting helps audiences fully understand the building that is being proposed, unlike on-screen renderings. “You can touch a ZPrint, pick it up, turn it over and really see it,” said Woods. “ZPrinting allows us to move the design process forward more quickly, iterate more effectively and more deeply involve clients and other stakeholders. It’s a great tool and everyone benefits.”

Moody•Nolan is collaborating on the project with Antoine Predock. Architect PC, who also uses Z Corporation’s ZPrinting, and actually introduced Moody•Nolan to the technology.