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Press Release

August 20, 2009

Josie Patterson
MIT Museum

Thin brick vault to be unveiled for first time at MIT Museum.

MIT Museum Student Nights: After Hours features some of the latest innovations in masonry techniques.

Cambridge, MA ­– Vault N51: A Low Carbon Masonry Innovation invites the design community and the general public to celebrate the unveiling of a thin brick vault, constructed by graduate architecture students at MIT. The event will take place at the MIT Museum on Friday, September 11th from 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and will showcase additional innovations in masonry.

The installation is inspired by Spanish architect-engineer Felix Candela (1910-1997), whose work in thin concrete shells is currently on exhibit at the Museum through September 27. The students began their investigation of masonry designs and structural analysis under the guidance of John Ochsendorf, associate professor of Building Technology at MIT.  The brick vault creates new spatial possibilities with its doubly-curved structural shell, and is built with low-carbon adobe bricks. It was designed with the aid of Thrust Network Analysis (TNA), new structural design software developed by Philippe Block (MIT PhD 2009).

To reduce its environmental impact, the vault will be constructed using unfired thin bricks donated by Stiles and Hart of Bridgewater, MA. The thin bricks minimize material use, and are locally made with reduced carbon emissions.

Vault N51 will showcase the design and construction process, as well as the completed vault in the outdoor courtyard. The event will also feature work that team members collaborated on as part of a stone masonry workshop in Mallorca, Spain. Additional masonry innovations will be on display, notably work by MIT alumni Philippe Block and Michael Ramage (MArch 2006).

Refreshments will be provided. To foster a festive atmosphere, music will be DJed by MIT students.

This event is part of the Student Nights program, a series of evening events at the MIT Museum designed to support student activities that align with the Museum’s goals. It seeks to promote public engagement with art and technological innovations developed through the MIT community’s research.

Additional Information:
MIT Museum events: http://web.mit.edu/museum/programs/calendar.html
Vault construction blog: http://vaulting.wordpress.com
Masonry research at MIT: http://web.mit.edu/masonry/




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