DESIGNING BUILDINGS OF NOBLE PURPOSE USING CNC TECHNOLOGY - PAYETTE
By Maryann Valentine
Focused on large building types like laboratories and hospitals, Parke MacDowell and Robert Pasersky sat down with us from Payette of Boston, Massachusetts; a new and upcoming building design company that focuses on designing buildings of noble purpose. The company aims to find elegant solutions for complex problems, specializing in convoluted building types for sciences and healthcare. And now, the company can further their elaborate ideas by testing the intricate design ideas with a physical object made with their Techno CNC Systems HDS Series CNC router.
“We are different from your typical CNC router customer. We are a large architecture firm focusing on large building types, like laboratories and hospitals that call for complex building types and projects. Rooted in technological and programmatic competence, we had a high demand for physical mock ups. A physical mock up became essential for the elaborate building designs that we came up with, so we desperately needed something that allowed for us to see our ideas come to life, before we actually began building. The early design phase working with physical mock ups enables us to have a more in depth discussion on the design, helping to then advance the design. It is so much easier than waiting for a contractor to be on board. We are able to fabricate something ourselves.” – Parke MacDowell
Payette seeked outside shops that began making these mock ups for them, but the company could not further there production or ideas since the shops began taking too long to fabricate. “We were also moving into a bigger shop. The company was in a small flex space. We were leveraging relationships to use machines that friends had. Originally, we would have used connections with fabricators to prototype things, but boy was that a slow process!” So, Payette came to us in need of a quality, reliable and affordable CNC router… The HDS Series CNC router. “We wanted an accurate and fast machine. We knew we wanted a strong motor like the 12.5 horsepower motor… something we were not willing to compromise.” Techno HDS CNC Routers are built to last with all steel construction and superior components such as precision linear bearings and rails. Standard features of these machines include a 12 HP HSD high frequency automatic tool changer spindle with an 8 position tool holder rack, precision helical rack and pinion drives on the X and Y axes, a ball screw drive on the Z axis, maintenance-free AC servo motors, multi-zone vacuum t-slot table combination, and material placement stops.
“Now, we have curriculum that supports the shop, where we can share skill sets and knowledge throughout the project team. We have collapsed the architect divide and expanded tremendously.”
“We can now test design ideas with physical production by making things, playing around with how shapes would look, etc. We can then also use the router as a communication tool. It is very valuable to be able to show clients exactly what they are going to get. We can show them that it isn’t just a 3D model… this is something you can physically touch and hold, and they can expedite the discourse. It is so much easier to make decisions this way. Then, contractors come to our fabrication lab where we can then all through ideas out, yet still be on the same page about the project. It’s a very effective way to bridge the divide between designer and contractor. That was our ultimate goal of the fabrication space.”
“The fabrication lab is about a network of skill sets. Having the CNC router encourages us to interrogate design problems in ways we wouldnt be able to, if we didn’t have the router to help build our ideas. Those avenues of physical production change the way we design as a company. We make modifications ourselves, and then bring in a contractor to discuss the physical artifact we can present to them. It pushes some of the tougher issues forward, as well. It reduces risk for the client because they can see exactly what they are getting. It is a win win all around. We can also achieve things and take huge risks as designers. We would be unable to do any of this if we didnt have the router to make the physical objects.”
The Payette team works carefully to perfect the best full scale mock up of the design. They make full scale mock ups of design elements like panels, millwork sections, etc. “The best part about the CNC router is that it is not prescriptive in its uses. We love disengaging the machine from the lock step mechanism where we can simply use the machine as a paintbrush… almost like it has it’s own voice.”
The Payette team is out designing in the fabrication shop about 7 days a week. The company focuses on using materials like MDF, plywood, hardwood, low density foam for quick studies, and high density foam for finish quality models. And the company longs to play around with different metals… in the near future.