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    Ripple Effect: Installations By Urbana

    After about eight years of concentrating on architecture, both residential and commercial, Urbana shifted to installations. "They allow us to fully explore a very different territory in terms of materials and fabrication methods," principal Rob Ley says. "The immediacy of construction and intimacy of scale require an extremely focused design agenda." As Urbana has developed this area of expertise, projects have evolved from temporary gallery and museum exhibitions to permanent installations in large buildings by other firms.


    Draper is the focal point of an addition built by Gould Evans Affiliates for the visual-arts building at Florida State University in Tallahassee. The strands of recycled stainless steel cascade, tinsellike, through a six-story atrium, offering unique views to the surrounding classrooms, meeting areas, and offices. To conceive the form of the installation, Ley developed a physics-based 3-D computer program that calculated the best curvature for the strands, factoring in the pliability of the metal and its mass between the points where it's screwed into the wall.


    Next in the pipeline for Ley are two more site-specific projects. At a Seattle firehouse, he'll use stainless-steel tubes to create a gateway. At a police station in Kansas City, Missouri, aluminum rods will become a suspended canopy, constructed with assistance from a robotic arm. 

    Photography by Alan Tansey.