What’s the structure behind Papazian?

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

If you frequent the space between Papazian and Pierson, you may have noticed a small concrete structure that looks a bit like the crossing in a church. The structure was built by Jessica Mandrick ’07 for her senior engineering design project.

Mandrick wrote in an e-mail, “it’s a thin shell concrete hyperbolic paraboloid based off of the work of Mexican engineer Felix Candela. It demonstrates the use of a limited amount of material to create structures which on larger scales can be used as buildings, lobbies, or roofs.” She explained that while the structure “was cast with concrete on a constructed formwork in one six hour session, the formwork itself took much longer to create.”

This reporter thought the structure was an igloo when she first stumbled across it because it had a white tarp draped over it, and Mandrick explains that “it’s currently kept damp and under tarps in order to keep the humidity high so that the concrete can cure and gain strength. The shell still requires some work on the underside of it, which will eventually have the smooth finish of its top.”

Whether your questions are abstract or concrete, you can ask the Gazette at dailygazette@swarthmore.edu.

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