Simons Center for Geometry & Physics at Stony Brook

Simons Center is new building on the Stony Brook campus which features a glass and metal kinetic art wall manufactured by Zahner. Designed by the architects at Perkins Eastman, the new facility brings a world-class mathematics and physical sciences building to the Stony Brook University in Long Island, New York. The building's most intriguing feature is the animated stainless steel kinetic surface.

The kinetic panel system first began early development in 2008, when Zahner began working on a series of projects with the renowned kinetic artist and designer, Chuck Hoberman. Hoberman foresaw a future where kinetic surfaces could respond to environmental changes (such as temperature, moisture, and light) by opening or closing an aperture on the surface of the building itself. Today these systems are now possible, and the new Center for Geometry and Physics at Stony Brook provides an early prototype.

Several patterns designed by Hoberman Associates are featured on the interior of the new Stony Brook Facility, serving as both the building's artistic centerpiece as well as a functional shading system. The floor-to-ceiling metal surface is made by layering four panels manufactured in perforated stainless steel.

The video below was shot in the Zahner shop prior to installation at the Simons Center in New York. A single small motor communicates with a computer, which dictates the speed and acceleration. The computer also processes any sensory data which can be used to generate responses to environmental stimuli such as temperature change.

Oval design by Hoberman Associates on display at the Zahner facility.

Each of the motorized panels revolve around one another on an engineered track defined by the designed components. The visual effect is like that of a flower, blossoming into a burst of patterns - hexagons, circles, squares and triangles. At one point in the cycle, the perforated patterns all are aligned, allowing the maximum open space. At the other end of the cycle, the pattern becomes an opaque mesh.

The kinetic surface spans 124 square meters and imbues the building with the functional capacity to dynamically change its opacity and sculpt the quality of light within.

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Kinetic facade 01
Kinetic facade 02
Kinetic facade 03