Tree Sculpture Engineering
by William Gorlin
Contemporary interpretations of themes from Native American culture grace the recently expanded Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut. These architectural elements include free-standing sculptural "trees" that spread their branches to create a variety of overhead canopies.
Although these trees, designed by the interior architecture firm The Rockwell Group, do not support any of the building's structure, their fabrication posed significant challenges to consulting engineers at M.G. McLaren, P.C.
McLaren was hired by over half a dozen of the millwork subcontractors to provide structural engineering design and installation review services. We designed frameworks, connections, supports, and bracing systems that would both satisfy the architects' aesthetic demands and accommodate weight limitations and installation schedules.
The engineers at McLaren tailored the design solutions to match preferences of each subcontractor with regard to fabrication, handling, and erection strategies. We approached each design with them as if we were an extension of their design office, thereby blending our shared experience bases. >>>
The "tree of life" is a 40 foot- (12 meter-) tall decorative structure in the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Photo: M.G. McLaren, P.C.
Though nonstructural, the tree of life posed engineering challenges.
Image: M.G. McLaren, P.C.
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