Dear ArchitectureWeek Readers,
Tim Eliassen and Navtec consulted on the structural glazing system for the Pyramide du Louvre (1989) by I.M. Pei a defining project in the adaptation of yacht rigging technology to achieve grand architectural transparency in the high-tech Modern style. Photo: Johnson Architectural Images/ Artifice Images
TIM ELIASSEN - STRUCTURAL GLAZING PIONEER
by Mic Patterson
Implementers and enablers are found at the leading edge
of any innovative and emergent technology such as
structural glass facade (SGF) technology. Prominent
among them is Tim Eliassen, a founder of TriPyramid
Structures, a company specializing in the design and
fabrication of rod and cable rigging systems and their
application in SGFs.
Technology transfer is a well-established pathway for
innovation. Tim Eliassen blazed a trail in bringing the
technology of high-performance sailboat rigging to the
architectural market. Since that time, there have been
few milestone SGF applications with which he has not
Eliassen's undergraduate study was in aeronautical
engineering, shifting to nuclear reactor engineering
with his graduate work. But his passion was for
sailboats. Recognizing an opportunity for improving the
design of rigging systems, Eliassen cofounded Navtec and
was immediately immersed in the world of large racing
yachts, America's Cup boats, and sailing vessels whose
sole purpose was complete circumnavigation of the globe
in the shortest possible time.
In the 1980s, Eliassen met Martin Francis, an architect
and the "F" in RFR, the architecture and engineering
firm he founded with Peter Rice and Ian Ritchie. Francis
also happened to be a designer and builder of large
Their meeting was the beginning of an ongoing dialogue
about the possibility of applying the rigging technology
of high-performance sailing yachts to buildings. During
the course of this dialogue and developing friendship,
Francis took Eliassen to see the glass Serres at Parc de
la Villette in Paris, the seminal work designed by Peter
Rice and RFR in 1983.
Then in 1987, Eliassen received a call from Francis
telling him that there was a project in France that
needed his involvement: the Louvre Pyramid by I.M. Pei.
Arts Corporation has designed a series of functional sculptures consisting of deconstructed appliances reassembled inside minimalist glass shells, like this combination alarm clock/espresso maker. Photo: Richard Prince
Design by Arts Corporation
by Michael J. Crosbie
The Practice in 20-Dozen Words
In 2000 Mike Latham formed Arts Corporation, a
multimedia design firm that integrated his varied
interests in architecture, art, and technology. The firm
serves as the backbone for Latham's work in
architecture, furniture design, and product design, and
a springboard for his innovative work in sculpture and
In response to the economic realities of a new practice, small-scale commissions were frequently accepted and built to fit within third-party architectural designs. Building from the details up, disciplines such as sculpture and furniture manufacture became increasingly integral to the firm's work.
The inclusion of such work in several important collections of art, and its integration into its surroundings, were founding goals of the firm. Economical and speculative work, such as Arts Corporation's former loft workspace in Brooklyn, resulted in additional commissions for art and architectural work at larger scales.
Balancing the diverse work of the Arts Corporation has been a constant focus. In 2003 Latham was granted the Young Architects Award by the Architectural League of New York, and in 2005 he was commissioned to design a functional sculpture for the premier issue of Men's Vogue.
Current projects include the art film Business Plan, the story of the rise of Arts Corporation; and the company's girl band, the Acettes.
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