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At Israeli Museum, A Faceted Facade Where No Two Parts Are The Same

The Tel Aviv Museum of Art recently unveiled a whizbang addition to its existing complex. The $55 million, 195,000-square-feet Herta and Paul Amir Building has a studiedly complicated faceted concrete facade that looks as though a Brutalist behemoth collided head-on with one of Bucky Fuller’s domes. Wow! Huh?

Whatever you think of the final product–some critics were less than impressed–it’s a remarkable technical feat. Architects Preston Scott Cohen, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, designed the facade to feature 465 pre-cast panels of which no two were the same. How did they do it? The studio’s Ashley Merchant explains in an email:

These panels were cast on site. They turned the inside of the building into a factory while it was under construction and cast the panels inside on two large casting tables. Because each panel was unique, they used a flexible mold that could be adjusted to the unique angles and dimensions of each panel (using information taken from the computer model). Instead of drilling into the table to hold these in place, they used powerful magnets. These panels were then moved by crane into position and attached to a system of steel ribs that were supported off of the building’s primary steel structure.

So there you have it: If you ever want to build your own Marcel Breuer-style geodesic dome, now you know how. You’re welcome!

[Images courtesy of Preston Scott Cohen]

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