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Mary Moscarello has two decades of experience in the field of broadcasting and communications. She has served major broadcast news and cable networks in the New York market as a writer, producer and assignment editor. She has a strong journalism background in management of public relations and … More »
Urban Farm Project Grows with ARCHICAD
December 10th, 2015 by Mary Moscarello
Seattle, WA-based CAST Architecture leveraged ARCHICAD in a big way on a new classroom building at the Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands (RBUFW) in Seattle’s South End. The 30-acre site is a former planting orchard and nursery space. Originally on the outer edges of the city, the neighborhood is and among the densest and most diverse in the region. Using ARCHICAD as a tool for design and documentation, the team at CAST is working with the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation and Seattle Tilth, to create a center for sustainable urban agriculture in the middle of the city.
The heart of the building is a multi-purpose classroom space and a large demonstration kitchen that functions like the set of a TV cooking show while meeting commercial kitchen standards. A cantilevered porch structure serves as a gathering space where Seattle Tilth hosts weekly community dinners using produce from the site.
CAST took their cues from the simple material palette of agricultural buildings – but with a twist. The interior of the broad roof uses standard nail-plate wood trusses, flat on top but each uniquely shaped on the underside to create an undulating surface. CAST had to come up with a way to model the building quickly; available truss tools didn’t give the team the control they wanted, so they used ARCHICAD’s built-in scripting tool to create their own. CAST Architecture Principle, Forrest Murphy explains,
“We wrote our own GDL script to visualize the wood trusses in the 3D model. Not only did it give us exactly what we wanted, but we were able to use ARCHICAD to create a schedule that went straight into the construction documents. When we wanted to generate a smooth transition, we did it numerically in the table and were able to see in real time how it impacted the model.”
Murphy added that harnessing the power of ARCHICAD through writing a GDL script allowed the use of customized building components that would normally be out of reach on a project being funded by a non-profit:
“The automatically generated schedule went directly to the truss manufacturer for his bid. When you look at the warped shape, it appears as though it would be expensive to make, but it was quite affordable. The manufacturing process is highly automated – they were able to drop our design directly into their machine and the final estimate was only a little over $5k for the entire truss package.”
“There’s no denying that there was a bit of a learning curve when it came to creating our own objects, but once you get up to speed, it gives you a huge amount of flexibility. This is the kind of thing that takes us toward relying fully on our model to create documentation.”
The ultimate goal for the RBUFW is foster agriculture in an urban environment. Non-profit site operator Seattle Tilth plans to use education programs to build community and provide economic opportunity to residents of lower-income areas nearby.
“They’re developing programs to expand on the idea of local farming. The idea is to show people how to add value to small-scale agriculture – they may not be able to make a living growing cucumbers, but if they learn to pickle those cucumbers – selling them at a local farmer’s market is a more feasible plan.”
As a foundation takes the lead on securing funding for the project, including grant money and financing, all that remains is for the city council to vote its approval of the new funding plan and for the bidding process to begin again. Construction should begin in spring of 2016.