The Chrysalis Amphitheater: Transforming AEC Through Collaboration

By Akio
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Collaboration | @Dassault3DS @azahner @THEVERYMANY

In nature, “chrysalis” refers to the metallic-gold shell that encases a butterfly’s metamorphosis.

Like its namesake, the Chrysalis Amphitheater in Merriweather Park, Maryland is making a bold transformation.

The futuristic band shell, designed by Marc Fornes of THEVERYMANY, features a dual-curved steel and aluminum shell over a concrete base.

From curved tubes to custom shingles, the project is a wide-ranging, geometric display made up of many unique panel-types.

Conceptual skin model from the architect MARC FORNES/THEVERYMANY

(Conceptual model by architect MARC FORNES/THEVERYMANY.)


The manufacturer of this form is A. Zahner Company, an internationally acclaimed engineering and fabrication company based in Kansas City.

Earlier this year, we sat down to discuss the new Chrysalis Amphitheater with Shannon Cole, Senior Project Engineer at Zahner, who is responsible for transforming an artist’s design into a realized form.

“We’ve been using CATIA for modeling in some form or another for over a decade. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform brings CATIA to the next level,” says Cole. “What we love about the 3DEXPERIENCE platform is the way that it adds other functionality available to us through ENOVIA Project Management, to improve our ability to collaborate all the way through the supply chain.”

The company, along with the entire Chrysalis project team, has brought the amphitheater project to life in a virtual world.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: .@azahner & entire project team brought
#ChrysalisAmphitheater to life in a virtual world

Using collaborative modeling tools they were able to make decisions and have a big impact on schedule and budget.

To manage the complex geometries and ensure everything fits together in the field, the shell has been developed from the ground up in a 3D environment.

The Chrysalis will be the first major project for Zahner engineers to run on Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

Having used the company’s CATIA software for many years, the 3DEXPERIENCE platform brings multiple software packages together on a cloud-based system, increasing visibility for stakeholders, and empowering collaboration between teams.

Close up view of secondary fins used for geometry definition

(Close up view of secondary fins used for geometry definition.)


According to Cole, digital projects once constrained fabricators, since those tools were imagined with the architect in mind.

Zahner structural steel model and secondary fins

(Structural steel model and secondary fins.)


Coordinating Throughout

Cole notes that the Chrysalis project presents a challenge in that, even though Zahner is contracted by the owner, the subcontractor must coordinate closely with the project’s general contractor who is performing the site work and laying the concrete pad.

“Coordination between us will be critical,” Cole says. “It’s important to show them how we envision this being erected.”

For example, through a tab in the 3DEXPERIENCE dashboard, Zahner has been able to easily coordinate concrete embed locations with the general contractor.

“This way we get high level of agreement from the general contractor that, yes, that’s the concrete slab they’re going to build, and we can ask for base plates to be in those locations,” Cole says.

3DPlay Widget, showing concrete base model, being used to to resolve clashes between requested concrete curbs and steel base plate locations

(3DPlay Widget, here showing a concrete base model, resolves clashes between requested concrete curbs and steel plate locations.)


Improving Collaboration

“We’re giving access to the owner and architect to let them know where we are and how things are moving forward because design is a tricky process — it’s not always linear and straightforward. Decisions that seem relatively small can have big impact so transparency helps people see why you’re agonizing over, for example, a single clip and why it’s important to you,” Cole says.

Dashboard created for project stakeholders; Images show an in-process skin test

(Dashboard created for project stakeholders; Images show a skin test in process.)


For example, as the façade team explores how the shingled skin appearance will be achieved and how it might look in its finished state, Zahner is able to post photos on the dashboard to demonstrate what they’re aiming to achieve.

That helps bring new team members up to speed, and makes the owner a more integrated part of the team.

Transforming the Process

Between the Chrysalis’ limited reliance on 2D drawings and its high level of transparency, the project demonstrates the transformation taking place in the AEC industry.

“The interconnectivity across disciplines — upstream and down, from design through fabrication, installation and analysis — is huge for our industry,” Cole says.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “Interconnectivity upstream & down—design, fabrication,
installation, analysis—is huge for AEC” @azahner @3DSAEC

This collaborative virtual design not only helps to engage all AEC team members, giving them all a high stake in the finished project, but it takes full advantage of all of the knowledge available from the full team throughout the life of the project.


Related Resources

Façade Design for Fabrication Industry Solution Experience

WHITEPAPER: Technical Changes Brought by BIM to Façade Design

Spotlight on Zahner: Improving AEC Efficiency Through Façade Design Integration


This post was originally published on Navigate the Future, the Dassault Systèmes North America blog.




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