MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab has exhibited the Fluid Crystallization project as part of the 2013 Architectural League Prize Exhibition at the Parson’s Gallery in New York. The Fluid Crystallization installation investigates hierarchical and non-deterministic self-assembly with large numbers of parts in a fluid medium. 350 hollow spheres are submerged in a 200-gallon glass water-filled tank. Armatures, modeled after carbon atoms, follow intramolecular covalent bonding geometries within atoms. Intermolecular structures formed as spheres interacted with one another in 1, 2, or 3-dimensional patterns.
The highly dynamic self-assembly characteristic of the system offers a glimpse at material phase change between crystalline solid, liquid, and gaseous states. Turbulence in the water introduces stochastic energy into the system, increasing the entropy and allowing structures to self-assemble; thus, transitioning between gas, liquid, and solid phases. Polymorphism may be observed where the same intramolecular structures can solidify in more than one crystalline form, demonstrating the versatile nature of carbon as a building block for life.
Skylar Tibbits, Founder & Principle, SJET LLC & Lecturer MIT, Department of Architecture.
Arthur Olson, The Molecular Graphics Laboratory, The Scripps Institute, CA.
Project Team: Graham Francis, Marianna Gonzalez, Amir Soltanianzadeh, Monica Zhou, Veronica Emig.
Fluid Crystallization was made possible by support from the Department of Architecture, MIT and the Architectural League of New York.
About the Designer:
Director of the Self-Assembly Lab, Skylar Tibbits, is a trained Architect, Designer, Computer Scientist and Artist whose research focuses on developing self-assembly and programmable material technologies for large-scale applications in our physical environment. Skylar is currently a faculty member in MIT’s Department of Architecture, teaching graduate and undergraduate design studios and co-teaching How to Make (Almost) Anything, a seminar at MIT’s Media Lab. Skylar was recently awarded a 2013 Architectural League Prize, a TED Senior Fellowship and has been named a Revolutionary Mind in SEED Magazine’s 2008 Design Issue. Previously, he has worked at a number of renowned design offices including: Zaha Hadid Architects, Asymptote Architecture and Point b Design. He has designed and built large-scale installations around the world, including locations in New York, Philadelphia, Paris, Calgary, Berlin, Frankfurt, Long Beach, Edinburgh and Cambridge. He has also exhibited work at prestigious institutions, including; The Guggenheim Museum NY, the Beijing Biennale, Storefront for Art and Architecture and lectured at MoMA and SEED Media Group’s MIND08 Conference. He has been published extensively online and in print outlets such as the New York Times, Wired, Nature, Fast Company, various peer-reviewed journals and books including: Fabricate: Making Digital Architecture, Digital Architecture, Testing to Failure, Scripting Cultures and Form + Code. As a guest critic, Skylar has guest lectured at schools around the world including; The University of Pennsylvania, The Institute for Computational Design, The Architectural Association, Pratt Institute and Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.
Skylar has a Professional. Bachelor of Architecture degree and minor in experimental computation from Philadelphia University. Continuing his education at MIT, he received a Masters of Science in Design + Computation and a Masters of Science in Computer Science under the guidance of advisors; Patrick Winston, Neil Gershenfeld, Erik Demaine and Terry Knight.
Skylar is also the founder and principal of a multidisciplinary architecture, art and design practice, SJET LLC. Started in 2007 as platform for experimental computation and design, SJET has grown into a research-based practice crossing disciplines from architecture, design, sculpture, fabrication, computer science, toys to robotics.
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