“Design shapes the world. From the buildings we live and work in to the machines that propel us forward to the products that enrich our lives, we live in a designed world.” (Autodesk)
The Autodesk Gallery near to the Ferry Building in San Francisco houses a free exhibition of examples of innovative design and engineering from all round the world. “The Autodesk Gallery celebrates the creative process and shows how people are using new technology to imagine, design, and create a better world.”
Located on the second floor of an office building, the Gallery was named the top destination for geeks by Wired magazine in 2009 and features more than 20 exhibits from clients of Autodesk, including examples of how computers model the construction of large Lego models, assist in the development of high performance Nike shoes, support the design of innovative architectural structures, planes and automobiles and medical developments.
The Gallery was opened in 2009 and was one of the first projects in California to be awarded Platinum certification in the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for Commercial Interiors (LEED-CI) rating system.
Anderson Anderson Architecture, HOK, McCall Design Group and the contracting firm DPR Construction worked with Autodesk to fit out the space using an integrated project delivery (IPD) approach using a computerised Building Information Modelling (BIM). The 1,500 sq m project provides digital exhibition galleries, design studios for a digital artist-in-residence, conference and education spaces.
The gallery space has a very simple and effective concept of a series of translucent fabric boxes onto which images are projected and between which the different displays are located. Utilizing a grid of 84 projectors and hundreds of focused speakers, a coordinated film can run across the entire space of the project—“perhaps tracking a swarm of butterflies floating above a field of time-lapse blossoming flowers, or tracing the flow of blood through an animated digital heart.”
A similar grid of fabric boxes hangs from the concrete slab and conceals projectors, speakers, computer boxes, mechanical equipment and lighting systems, allowing flexibility for future alterations and providing a visual ceiling across the space.
The project has won a number of awards including the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Award for the Design/Delivery Process Innovation Using BIM category as a Technology in Architectural Practice Award and the CoreNet Global 2009 Sustainable Leadership and Design Award with special commendation in the Design/Interiors-Commercial category.
It is a stimulating experience to visit the Gallery and there are a few interactive exhibits for visitors to enjoy plus several social projects in third world countries. There is one issue which Autodesk however should pick up. The original display was so successful and the gallery looks so fresh to new visitors that it is a disappointment to find that many of the exhibits date from the original concept in 2009. This is a fast-changing world and the gallery needs to have a programme of continual updating or a zone focussed on the future in order to remain at the cutting edge and to be a future-focussed showcase for Autodesk and the world of computer-aided design.