Surfacing Stone

The research explores the design and analysis of a thin marble shell that incorporates the latest developments in fabrication technology and computational analysis. Natural stone, one of the oldest and most traditional building materials, is used in innovative ways by manipulating it with a 6-axis robotic waterjet.

The research studies techniques for the robotic perforation and surfacing of natural stone, with a particular focus on marble. Small tests panels explored how transparency and translucency of stone can be generated through robotic waterjet cutting. A prototypical stone shell was designed to further explore the design potential encountered in the small test pieces. The shell is post-tensioned and stiffened with metal stiffeners. Finite-element analysis (FEA) served as a primary technique to conduct a detailed structural analysis of the shell.

Principal Investigators: Prof. Monica Ponce de Leon; Prof. Martin Bechthold; Project Management (Design Phase): Wes McGee; Fabrication Team: Jessica Lissagor, Trevor Patt, Damon Sidel, Heather Boesch, Mathieu Blanchard, Cameron Willard; Structural Design: Prof. Martin Bechthold, Structural Peer Review: Souza, True & Partners, Watertown, MA.

The project was funded by the International Masonry Institute

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