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Perkins + Will

To advance mass timber and robotic fabrication, Perkins+Will combined expertise across offices in a year-long project at the BUILD Space.

Perkins + Will

Area of Research:
Architecture, Engineering, and Construction

Location:
Boston

Inspired to experiment with eliminating barriers between imagined designs and constructed reality, Perkins+Will dreamed up the Greenbuild Pavillion project. They utilized a new construction workflow, in which a digital parametric model is communicated directly to a robot fabricator. The robot, equipped with suction grippers, drills, saws, and nail guns, can manipulate generic 2x4 lumber into complex geometries with industrial precision. This workflow could drastically improve the sustainability, quality, cost, and time of construction.

Hakim Hasan, from Perkins+Will’s Boston office, and Anish Reddy, from the Los Angeles office, fabricated the pavilion in modules (using 2,451 individual pieces of wood and 10,828 nails) over 54 hours at the technology center. Once complete, the entire pavilion was shipped to Chicago and assembled at the Greenbuild Expo, where it stole the show with its curved geometry and massive scale, topping out at 14’ tall and 20’ wide.

The success of the pavilion marked a major step forward for sustainable applications of robotics. Because it is a post-and-beam mass timber structure, the pavilion’s workflow could be applied to a structure as tall as 18 stories. The use of wood allows for a renewable, widely-available material to displace steel or concrete and reduce a building’s carbon footprint. Moving forward, Perkins+Will seeks to implement these workflows into its projects, ensuring a better final product for its customers.

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The residency program provides open workspaces and equipment for teams doing forward-looking work in the areas of construction, manufacturing, and emerging technologies.