RRRolling Stones Rolls Out at Socrates Sculpture Park

A uniform row of brightly colored concrete shapes on a lawn with a city skyline in the background
The chairs can be rolled and configured into small groups or continuous benches. photo / Zachary Tyler Newton (M.Arch. '10)
Two people sit and walk around four star-shaped concrete chairs on a lawn with a cityscape on the horizon
Park visitors using the seating in creative ways. photo / Zachary Tyler Newton (M.Arch. '10)
Two people share a concrete, star-shaped seat in a park with trees in the background
Visitors to Socrates Sculpture Park taking advantage of the adaptable seating. photo / Sara Morgan
The chairs can be rolled and configured into small groups or continuous benches. photo / Zachary Tyler Newton (M.Arch. '10) Park visitors using the seating in creative ways. photo / Zachary Tyler Newton (M.Arch. '10) Visitors to Socrates Sculpture Park taking advantage of the adaptable seating. photo / Sara Morgan
News
August 8, 2018

On July 11–12, the exhibition for RRRolling Stones opened at Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens, New York, with a formal unveiling of the installation, live 3D printing demos, and a jazz concert.

A sculptural project by Hannah, the design firm of Department of Architecture assistant professors Leslie Lok and Sasa Zivkovic, RRRolling Sones is a durable, movable outdoor seating system that can be rolled and configured into small seating groups or continuous benches. The project was the winner of the Folly/Function 2018 competition sponsored by the park and the Architectural League of New York.

Hannah utilized full-scale, open-source concrete 3D printing technology developed at Cornell's Robotic Construction Laboratory (RCL) for the public seating project. The chairs were prototyped and manufactured at RCL using a special cement mixture reinforced with nylon fibers. Zivkovic directs the lab, which involves AAP students in an interdisciplinary research group investigating advanced materials and novel construction technology.

The RRRolling Stones opening included live demonstrations of "Daedalus," the robotic arm used to create the star-shaped concrete chairs. The designers transported the 18-foot-long, custom-built 3D printer on a flatbed trailer from Ithaca to New York for the demo.

Park visitors, especially children, were immediately drawn to the rolling chairs. As the designers were setting up the installation, a group of children took over the seats as soon as they were unloaded, and audience members used the seating during the evening jazz concert.

"It was delightful to see how park visitors, both adults and children, engaged with the pieces in creative ways," said the designers, "especially the children, who occupied them in a playful manner and in several ways that we had not anticipated." Lok and Zivkovic were also pleasantly surprised at how some pieces reacted in different light conditions throughout the day, as they blended into the landscape or "popped as curious objects."

The demo drew a diverse crowd curious to see 3D printing in concrete. Lok and Zivkovic printed a series of miniature RRRolling Stones to illustrate the conceptual link between the design idea and the process of making. "The miniature pieces were wildly popular," said Lok. "Some young children naturally appropriated the pieces as small seats which they brought home."

The annual Folly/Function juried competition was launched in 2012 to explore the connection between architecture and sculpture. Architects and designers are challenged to create a large-scale project for public exhibition and installation at Socrates Sculpture Park. Previous winners include Austin and Mergold, cofounded by assistant professor of architecture Aleksandr Mergold (B.Arch.'00) and Jason Austin (B.Arch. '00), in 2014.

RRRolling Stones will be on display until December 31.

By Patti Witten