Press Room

  • Shown: the pavilion being installed on site on the UPenn campus.

Architecture students partner with industry to build graduation pavilion

PHILADELPHIA—Graduate architecture students at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design will unveil a pavilion they designed and constructed on Furness Plaza for the School’s 2015 Year End Show (YES) opening Friday, May 15 at 5:30 pm.
The YES pavilion was an initiative of the Graduate Architecture Department in collaboration with faculty Ezio Blasetti, Danielle Willems and Mohamad Alkhayer and coordinated by Andrew Saunders, Associate Professor of Architecture.
The idea for the pavilion grew out of a first-year design studio, “Tessellations.” The first project for the 501 studio examined higher order assemblies and productions, exploring how the ability to rapidly produce and control variability ushered in new modes of design characterized by topological and parametric associations. 
The studio explored flexible, topological constructs based on material properties and assembly logics, producing eighteen large constructions exhibited throughout Meyerson in the fall.
First year student teams each chose their own construction material for their component studies. One prototype featured silver and gold flashing, a thin layer of waterproof material usually used to prevent water damage, and selected to influence the aesthetics and materiality of the YES pavilion.  
“We rigorously rethought our core curriculum, one aspect being direct collaborations with experts outside of the university, including industry,” explained Winka Dubbeldam, Professor and Chair of the Architecture Department. “One proposal used this amazing flashing material, which you typically never see – it’s usually hidden between a window and wall. But here it is shown to have another use that is actually quite innovative and beautiful.”
Berger Building Products, a Euramax company based in Langhorne, Pa., provided the flashing material featured prominently in the design.
A 700-level seminar advanced the winning design with exploration of techniques, morphology and detailing of the pavilion to be constructed on Penn’s campus. It developed through hands-on workshops and focused on acquiring knowledge through making (Techne), understanding the morphological transformation of a given geometric packing and building using readily available materials. 
Students built and tested physical models that simulated the actual pavilion before turning to lightweight materials to fabricate the pavilion’s components, including structural members, panels and joints required for the pavilion’s superstructure and envelope.
Dubbeldam said that partnerships with industry in architectural education are essential, providing benefits to industry and enabling young designers to further their own research. “The students’ explorations bring new discoveries, new ways of thinking to industry as well as provides visibility.” 
For more information about the Year End Show, visit
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