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BY JESSICA CANFIELD, ASLA

Parametric modeling aids the design for a complex paving pattern at a corporate campus.

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

When stepping off the city sidewalk and into the site of the Cummins headquarters building in Indianapolis, there’s an immediate sense of arrival into a distinct landscape. David A. Rubin, FASLA, the principal and lead designer at DAVID RUBIN Land Collective, says that the site is an expression of choice, with amenities for collaboration and contemplation, “allowing people the capacity to choose where to be most creative.” This could be in a cluster in the amphitheater, in movable seating, at an isolated bench, or around the long, Wi-Fi-enabled community table, dubbed the “High-Tech Harvest Table” by the design team.

Located in downtown Indianapolis, the Cummins DBU (shorthand for Cummins Inc.’s Distribution Business Unit headquarters) site spans a full city block. Along the site’s western edge is the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, a citywide bike and pedestrian path. Sweeps of vegetation planted atop elongated berms extend inward from here to guide circulation and, as Rubin describes it, to create a sense that the landscape was intentionally carved back to reveal the underlying hardscape. The main path, which zigzags east–west to connect the building entry and parking garage, widens at the heart of the site to become the central plaza. This multifunctional gathering space is framed by amphitheater seating and can accommodate performances and special events. Just adjacent is a communal work space, the Social Hub, where employees can bring their laptops and connect to power and Wi-Fi. A more secluded area, the Dell, offers benches for quieter work. These distinct subspaces are threaded together by a continuous two-toned paving pattern, creating a unified surface and visual identity for the site.

The eye-catching paving pattern, comprising alternating bands of light and dark concrete pavers, echoes the calibrated facade of the new Deborah Berke Partners building and is emblematic of a checkered flag, in reference to the Cummins diesel engine enterprise. The design team first explored concepts for the paving pattern through sketches and a 3-D model. According to Land Collective’s project manager, Henry Moll III, Affiliate ASLA, “Early studies included larger concepts of fading patterns and pixilation,” but ultimately they went with the more geometric and focused pattern. After selecting the two-toned scheme, the team turned to Grasshopper to further explore and refine the pattern’s scale and color distribution.

Grasshopper, which is now included in Rhino 6, is a visual scripting tool used for parametric modeling. In parametric modeling, design outcomes are created through the application of scripts, which establish and define relationships between components within given constraints. In a design workflow, a script can be used for ideation or for accomplishing a specific task. Moll describes Grasshopper as ideal for working with repetitive elements, because you can automate complex goals, which lends itself well to developing patterns. (more…)

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