Pomona College, Commencement structure. 2008, 2009, 2010
Public interaction is a crucial component of our work and is exemplified in our project”Pomona String Theory”. The shade canopy, designed alongside architect Emily White, was constructued to shelter the Pomona College audience in Marston Quad for the mid-May commencement ceremony. The shade structure was woven on-site from trucker’s nylon strap webbing and rip stop parachute fabric. The weave followed a strategy developed from string figures – specifically a form called the “Clown’s Collar”- to create a customized net suspended over the quadrangle. From the net hung a cloud of gently undulating streamers in Pomona College colors that provided a unique and lively shade. Software was used to coordinate the weave with a solar incidence angle study that determined an optimum density pattern, allowing for shade where it was most needed, while keeping the system as light weight and wind permeable as possible. The canopy’s assembly was developed through algorithms of weaving and lace making. A prototype of the canopy was constructed at our non-profit architecture research facility, Materials & Applications, that we co-direct. At M&A, the development process of “String Theory” was opened up to include the participation of local enthusiasts. In the final week, the canopy was assembled on site with the help of faculty and students. The participation of students and faculty in assembling “String Theory” was a crucial component of this massive social sculpture.