Curvy Landmark Buildings

Design failure and success are the result when architects replace angles with curves.


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New Designs in Architecture that require CAD Modeling

Today we're looking at how buildings can now be designed like products. Recent advances in architecture have led to sweeping forms, like the Experience Music Project in Seattle, or Dublin Airport 's new Terminal 2. And don't forget the famous Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao , Spain , that Time magazine called the Building of the Century, proving that lines don't have to be straight, and angles don't have to be right.

Building projects like these ain't easy. For example, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles had an original budget of $100 million and came in at $274 million v that's 170% over-budget. As if that isn't enough to make designers run from curved buildings, the contractors complained of 10,000 (requests for information÷ from the architect as the project unfolded. The contractors wound up suing for an extra $50 million to cover their costs.

But not all curved buildings take longer and cost more than expected. Let's head to the UK , to the town of Bury St. Edmunds , the place where, according to folklore, they buried a saint named Edmund. There, the recent Debenhams department store is one example of curves that work. Nick Belden of the CA Group was the lead designer on the metal cladding with the blue lighting that gives the store its distinctive look, especially at night.

He reports that there are over thirty-two hundred metal pieces forming the skin, and that because of the unique curve requirements, there are three-hundred and eighty-four different shapes. The CAD files alone reached sixty gigabytes. This project came in on time and on budget thanks to some great collaboration. This landmark building makes a big statement in the town where they buried St. Edmund.

To keep cars and bicycles friendly, the town of Deventer commissioned a bicycle bridge over a local highway and canal. Design firm ONL won this project by creating an elegant minimalist curve that met the town's on and off ramp grading and angle positions. Bridge design is challenging because of fixed constraints, like the ramp locations and the minimum height for the bridge. The designers at ONL input those constraints into their design software, Creo Elements Pro. Once that was done, every future design change they made inherited those constraints so they didn't have to worry about that design element again.