Articles Building the Next Engineers pavilion is unveiled at Hofstra University

Scale Rule and Hofstra University has unveiled the Building the Next Engineers pavilion – the [re]fractal Pavilion - located at Hofstra University in Long Island, New York. The pavilion is the result of a design outreach programme with high school students, supported by Grimshaw’s New York studio and Schlaich Bergermann Partner (SBP), and made possible by the support of the SEI Futures Fund → in collaboration with the ASCE Foundation →.

Concepts were developed over a two-day workshop with 24 students from 13 local high schools, along with eight students at Hofstra. the winning scheme was selected from eight group proposals and then designed for construction by volunteers from Grimshaw and SBP. The proposals responded to an open brief based on site context and function: students were invited to select a site on the University grounds and create an environment which would best enable social interaction, contemplation and engagement.

“We are delighted to be part of the Building the Next Engineers program. As architects and engineers, we recognise that our industry still struggles to provide the support and encouragement to young people of all backgrounds to join the profession we love."

Vincent Chang, Managing Partner, Grimshaw New York

The winning proposal focused on an existing tree in the arboretum site to provide natural shade and canopy. The [re]fractal pavilion forms an arc to surround the tree, creating an internal, serene, enclosure, used as a retreat from the more active environment beyond. Integrated seating runs along the perimeter of the structure, enabling visitors to sit and engage with the pavilion and its location. Colour was an important part of the students’ winning scheme, proposing a design which would cast constantly fractured light across the spaces, playing with sun as it hits the pavilion.

Assembled in one day, the design was developed as a modular kit-of-parts from plywood and recyclable acrylic, and optimises full material use and mitigate waste. Future flexibility of the pavilion was also a critical part of the structure, designing the assembly details to ensure it could be disassembled and assembled across different locations and seasons.

In this year’s programme we saw the eight teams of high-school students really work and grow together. They generated diverse, challenging and brilliant designs; including mobile structures, tensile forms, and the winning proposal, a circular seating system to be placed around an existing tree, festooned with translucent panels designed to animate its site with light, colour and movement throughout the day. The Grimshaw volunteer team look forward to partnering on this engaging and hands on programme again, with another group of young talented students next year!”

Vincent Chang, Managing Partner, Grimshaw New York