"Small Stuff," Texas Architect, July/August, 2015



Location: Austin, Texas
Project Manager: Travis Cook
Design Team: Matt Fajkus, AIA, Travis Cook, Arman Hadilou
Design Support: Juan Carlos Fornino, Luu Mac, Andrew Green, Blake Naumann
Phase: Completion 2013

Material + Human
4’x8’x4” EPS Foam panels make up a 40’ long backdrop element. Scales of desired view and transparency are blended with scales of the human body, specifically, Le Corbusier’s iconic Modular Man proportioning system. The result is a sinuous distortion of a morphologically identical unit along the X, Y, and Z axes.

Material + Tool
Both the material and the fabrication process bring inherent surface resolutions to the finished form. The EPS Foam consists of beads of expanded polystyrene, giving the panels a visible grain. The 3/8” diameter fluted router bit with a 50% stepover leaves a visible signature of its path across the material. The result is a backdrop that functions at multiple scales.

Material + Light
The overlaid ‘resolutions’ or ‘grains’ of the material and the fabrication process affect the visual quality of the backdrop, invoking a materially ambiguous perception of the backdrop. The event had a live audience of 3,000 spectators and was broadcast live on television via ESPN's Longhorn Network. The quality of the surface eliminated the dreaded ‘hotspots’, providing even background luminosity. Varied lighting strategies produce diverse readings of the backdrop, from flat matte, to highly textured, to dramatically backlit.