Abandoned gas mart is now a design studio

Abandoned gas mart is now a design studio

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Light Station designer Christopher Romano, photographed with some of the early prototypes he developed in the Fabrication Workshop at the University at Buffalo's School of Architecture and Planning-min

Light Station designer Christopher Romano, photographed with some of the early prototypes he developed in the Fabrication Workshop at the University at Buffalo's School of Architecture and Planning-min
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Light/Station designer Christopher Romano, photographed with some of the early prototypes he developed in the Fabrication Workshop at the University at Buffalo's School of Architecture and Planning
photographs: Douglas Levere

To transform an abandoned gas mart into a striking 1,545-square-foot design studio, green room and conference facility, architect Christopher Romano of University at Buffalo had to embark upon a two-year journey through the manipulation of light and metal as design materials. The result is a signature architectural structure nestled in the shadows of three iconic buildings on Buffalos historic East Side. Romano is also a research assistant professor in UBs School of Architecture and Planning. A small team of UB architecture students also worked on the project.

The former gas mart building on Buffalo’s East Side is wrapped in deep-textured, perforated sheet metal panels, 3/64-inch thick, manufactured and fabricated by Buffalos Rigidized Metals. During the day, light pours in from two sides through the more than 72,000 holes laser-precision drilled into the stainless steel panels that veil the buildings facade. At night, an inversion occurs and light glows from within, identifying the structures presence in the surrounding neighborhood.

According to Romano for this project called Light/Station which was completed recently, light was used as a material. Here light serves as the connective tissue for all the components of the facade. It is a central element to the multi-layered facade, where the lighting is a layer behind the steel panels.

The former gas mart building is wrapped in deep-textured, perforated sheet metal panels, 3/64-inch thick, manufactured and fabricated by Buffalos Rigidized Metals, a key industrial partner of the School of Architecture and Planning.

Tiny holes drilled into each panel strategically capture or emit light, depending on the time of day. Romano and the Rigidized Metals team spent months experimenting with every aspect of the sheet metal, pushing boundaries with each iteration.

The team ran algorithms to generate the hole patterns that would be precision-cut into each piece of sheet metal, testing on smaller prototypes in order to get just the right size hole to allow light to pass through and create the desired effect.

(Source: University at Buffalo)