Tetra: Kinetic Sculpture

Finalist 2020

Tetra is a large-scale environmental installation permanently residing in the welcome area of Xandr, AT&T’s advertising and analytics division’s corporate office. The identity of the site was to be enduring and exude dynamic energy integral to the spirit of innovation. The form pulls inspiration from AT&T founder Alexander Graham Bell and his tetrahedral box kites.

One of the largest permanent kinetic sculptures in NYC, it is a meandering ceiling sculpture spanning nearly 100 ft long, with 300 individual computer-driven motors, and 150 programmed LED lights. Human presence triggers the motion and light so that each experience is never the same, as they undulate across the ceiling surface, the triangles move and shift to create a dramatic sense of activation and movement to the area.

From the earliest stages of the project, the Volvox Labs team collaborated with Gensler, and the general contractor to create a holistic approach to the sculpture. Gensler, the architectural design partner created the master plan, and the Volvox Labs team was brought on to engineer, design and develop Tetra. The kinetic mechanism would need to withstand daily 24hr daily usage. Each element had to be designed, prototyped, built and stress-tested in the house at Volvox studios. The collaboration led to the creation of an iconic new media installation illuminating the brand and creating a memorable experience that fuses responsive LED lighting and kinetic motion.

Early in the process, Gensler conceived and laid out the physical arrangement of Tetra, Volvox Labs team took that preview of the sculpture a step further, developing a virtual model to view the designs on the VR platform HTC Vive. This precision allowed for zero-error installation of the 25 clusters in-between 4 columns and multiple ceiling beams with no further adjustment needed. Volvox engineered, fabricated and integrated 25 clusters, each containing 12 linear actuators and 6 custom-made light tubes along with the infrastructure to support it. The meandering cluster division did not allow for joinery to be exactly the same so Volvox designed the joinery and 3-D printed over 536 pieces to accommodate the idiosyncratic feature.

The elegance of the technologies used in Tetra is that it is flexible and dynamic so the movement and lighting of the structure are only limited by user imagination. Working with a very strict deadline of just six months the team was able to achieve this monumental installation for Xandr.

Design Firms: 

Gensler
VolvoxLabs

Client: 

Xandr

Project Area: 

2200 square feet ceiling mounted sculpture

Open Date: 

September 2019

Project Budget: 

1,500,000

Photo Credits: 

VolvoxLabs

Design Team: 

Weston Bingham (creative director), Kamil Nawratil (creative and technical director), Priscilla Gomez (designer), Roman Shishalov (project manager), Michael Schneider (creative), Javier Cruz (technical director), Mark McCallum (digital designer), Pasakorn Nontananandh (digital designer), Zhongyuan Zhang (physical experience designer)

Fabricators: 

Ben Johnson (fabrication manager), Scott Chriss (architectural design and fabrication), Ben Mosca (fabricator), Stefan Skripak (physical computing), Nate Boyce (fabrication assistant), Nicolas Arranz (fabrication assistant)

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