Burnham Pavilion: Tensile Structures in Architecture

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Information about Burnham Pavilion: Tensile Structures in Architecture

Published on March 5, 2014

Author: PinkDomino

Source: slideshare.net

Tensile Structures The Burnham Pavilion ZAHA HADID Sneha Nagarajan(10110058) Rose Ranjan(10110050)

Brief Overview Client: Burnham Plan Centennial Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects Local architect: Thomas Roszak Structural engineers: Rockey Structures Fabricator: Fabric Images Lighting & electrical: Tracey Dear Multimedia content: The Gray Circle • The Burnham Pavilions were public sculptures by Zaha Hadid and Ben van Berkel in Millennium Park, which were located in the Loop community area of Chicago, Illinois. • Both pavilions were located in the Chase Promenade South. • The sculptures were privately funded and reside in Millennium Park. The pavilions were designed to be temporary structures



To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Daniel Burnham’s Plan of Chicago and symbolize the city's continued pursuit of the Plan's architectural vision with contemporary architecture and planning the Burnham Pavilion installations were built. The iconic centerpieces of the Burnham Plan Centennial are two temporary architectural pavilions in Millennium Park. World renowned architects Zaha Hadid (London), and Ben van Berkel (UNStudio, Amsterdam) designed these bold Pavilions to echo the audacious future-looking images and words of the Burnham Plan: “What we as a people decide to do in the public interest we can and surely will bring to pass.” The Burnham Pavilions opened to the public on June 19, 2009, when the Grant Park Symphony and Chorus simultaneously premiered a new work composed by Michael Torke called Plans that commemorates the words most often attributed to Daniel Burnham: “Make No Little Plans.”

Tailored architecture, dazzling video and star seamstresses “Fabric is both a traditional and a high-tech material whose form is directly related to the forces applied to it – creating beautiful geometries that are never arbitrary. I find this very exciting.” -Zaha Hadid

The Form: The entire pavilion, with its curving forms and openings, suggests a conch shell. The whiteness of the pavilion and its organic shape seem appropriate, given that it sits in a waterfront park. It's a mix of alien object and familiar imagery.

Development of the form

“The Burnham Plan Centennial is all about celebrating the bold plans and big dreams of Daniel Burnham’s visionary Plan of Chicago. It’s about reinvention and improvement on an urban scale and about welcoming the future with innovative ideas and technologies. Our design continues Chicago’s renowned tradition of cutting edge architecture and engineering, at the scale of a temporary pavilion, whilst referencing the organizational systems of Burnham’s Plan. The structure is aligned with a diagonal in Burnham’s early 20th Century Plan of Chicago. We then overlay fabric using contemporary 21st Century techniques to generate the fluid, organic form – while the structure is always articulated through the tensioned fabric as a reminder of Burnham’s original ideas.”

entrances The structure is at ground level, with entrances on the north and south sides. The park's open space will flow right through the pavilion. It will be an object in the landscape but part of the landscape. The pavilion's north entrance resembles a shark's open mouth, ready to swallow you.

Skylights The curving aluminium trusses with slit-eye skylights between them---oblong slits along the top of the pavilion for skylights.

Play of Light and Shadows

As captivating as this inside/outside room promises to be, it really will be animated by Gray's video installation. It will make your flat screen TV looking boring. The installation consists of two projectors in the pavilion's back wall and another projector that is hidden in the space between the outer and inner layers of fabric. It's 11 feet high by 24 feet wide. It should engage park visitors and get them excited about the Burnham Plan without being didactic.

The many colours of the Burnham Pavilion Go at dusk or at night. The pavilion also will be lit from below and will seem, more than ever, like an object that has landed from outer space.


The Burnham Pavilion by Zaha Hadid Architects utilizes curvilinear forms created by individually bent aluminium pieces welded together and covered by yards of tailor made tightly fitting material on the interior and exterior of the structure.

The pavilion's structural framework consists of 7,000 pieces of aluminium.

Each panel is zippered into place, with the seams fitting precisely over the curving aluminium ribs underneath.

They are covered by 24 custom-made panels of polyester material, the same fabric that's used for awnings and tents.

The fabric is waterproof and tensioned.

Interior structure An inner layer of fabric defines the pavilion's interior. It curves around rather dazzlingly, sometimes at an angle to the floor. The interplay of light and shadow changes as the skylights cast shadows on the curving interior walls during the day. In the evening, a film installation by artist Thomas Gray is projected onto the fluid fabric interior from different points inside the pavilion, creating a fully immersive effect.

Zaha Hadid Architects’ pavilion also works within the larger framework of the Centennial celebrations’ commitment to deliberate the future of cities. The presence of the new structure triggers the visitor’s intellectual curiosity whilst an intensifi cation of public life around and within the pavilion supports the idea of public discourse. The pavilion was designed and built to maximize the recycling and re-use of the materials after its role in Millennium Park. It can be re-installed for future use at another site. Zaha Hadid Architects’ pavilion design for Chicago’s Burnham Plan Centennial celebrates the city’s ongoing tradition of bold plans and big dreams.

The design merges new formal concepts with the memory of bold historic urban planning. Superimpositions of spatial structures with hidden traces of Burnham’s organizational systems and architectural representations create unexpected results. By using methods of overlaying, complexity is build up and inscribed in the structure.

Examining Burnham's drawings in the Plan of Chicago, Hadid was struck by how the city's diagonal streets open up the otherwise rigid street grid. Lengthening the drawn line of one of the diagonals, she marked where the street would fall if extended into Millennium Park. The design for the Burnham Pavilion incorporates that line, as the structural ribs and openings in the roof run parallel to an imaginary extension of Daniel Burnham's diagonal streets. The result is Hadid's sinuous pavilion that plays with shadow, light and space.

I think it will be a reasonable assumption to assume that Zaha hadid gets inspired from new building technologies.

The pavilion is described as resembling a "futuristic camping tent".

You can either love it or hate it, but it is impossible to be indifferent to Hadid’s provocative and visionary contribution to the celebration of the Burnham plan.


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