Let’s Throw Ideas Against The Wall and See What Sticks

Artificial Turf Panels

Almost literally.  This is an image of a parking garage attached to a mixed-use development we did in Austin.  The crux of the problem: you’re replacing a nice parking lot in front of an existing office building such that now the office tenants only get to look at your concrete monolith until the end of their dreary days.  Parking garage screens are a difficult thing because they don’t fool anyone, and the good ones are expensive – a cost most developers would rather redirect to the habitable areas of a building.  Metal screens are the usual culprit, easy to install and hang, sometimes with green stuff growing up them, like this beast just across the street:

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In the previous phase, we’d employed more of a traditional screen motif but with laser cut panels creating tree silhouettes.  The big idea here was figuratively suggesting “There’s no garage here, you’re looking through into the park beyond”.  I thought it turned out nice, but more density on multiple plane depths would have been even better.  Live and learn.

Domain 3

This screen began with a trip I took to Japan in 2010 when green walls were (and probably still are) all the rage.  The brilliance of the Japanese is in their unabashed willingness to defy convention to visually embody a theme.  It was in the Harajuku District that I stumbled on this building which I just loved:


So I threw the idea against the wall.  It’s crazy, I know, but so is the notion that ivy might actually grow up four stories in the Texas heat and actually screen anything.  I modeled it up and we presented it to the client:

Domain 4

I told him “Why try and force plants to grow there…you already buy the artificial turf for your dog parks, why not just utilize it in a vertical application?”  He gave me a wry sideways glance.  It was one of those looks that was half ‘you can’t be serious’ and half ‘that might just be crazy enough to work’.  Fortunately, Austin was my saving grace.  With the whole “Keep Austin Weird” mentality pervasive, almost anything can be rationalized.  He bought it and we built it.


It’s still no less wacky than it was to begin with, fake grass glued vertically, but despite the poor photograph, I think the design offers a unique visual break.  The hope was that during the day, the grass and colored panels are the visual textures, and at night, as the light streams out, the turf disappears and the glowing color of the panels and the texture of the perforated metal become the stars.




11 2013