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School of Architecture's Sonoran Pentapus to be completed mid-December

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Selena Quintanilla | The Daily Wildcat

Ongoing construction by students for the Sonoran Pentapus in front of Architecture building on Saturday, Oct. 22. The Sonoran Pentapus integrates the west entrance of the Architecture building with the flow of students and its natural surroundings

The construction spilling in to the sidewalk and bike path in front of the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture will soon be finished, according to students working on the project.

Students working on the Sonoran Pentapus pavilion said they aim to have the project completed by mid-December.

The project erecting the gridshell structure on the west side of the CAPLA building began in spring 2015, according Chris Trumble, an assistant UA architecture professor and the man responsible for initiating the project.

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Luz Rosario Pina, an architecture senior, said the completed project will serve as a landmark for the College of Architecture.

“Right now people know the architecture building as ‘that glass building,’” Pina said. “The Sonoran Pentapus will serve as a reputation for the school and provide shade. More importantly, it will help students learn to build more complicated structures.”

Trumble agrees that the process is about gaining experience.

“It’s an experimental building typology like ancient basket weaving,” Trumble said. “Structures in nature use tension and compression so with a dome structure like this we’re trying to optimize compression. The main objective is to learn.”

The team is partnering with other universities across the country also taking part in similar projects utilizing a gridshell structure, according to Trumble.

“Ours is different in that it’s made out of steel whereas the other teams are using wood,” Trumble said. “It should last for a very long time.”

The Sonoran Pentapus is funded by the Canadian government.

“There’s a roughly $2.5 million Canadian grant that is funding all these working groups,” Trumble said.

The goal of the experimental project is to make a gridshell in the most finite sense.

“For a year we will collect and evaluate data on its architectural and social performance,” Trumble said.

Students are the primary laborers, spending up to 150 man hours per week on the project, according to Andrew Christopher, a fifth year architecture student.

“My main responsibility is the gridshell itself,” Christopher said. “I also schedule a lot of the workflow for the project.”

Trumble acknowledged the difficulty of the project.

“There’s no efficiency,” Trumble said. “This was one of the worst sites on campus. Its western face makes the lighting terrible and the amount of concrete that had to be poured underground is something you can’t see from the other side of the construction fence.”

There is also a half-inch steel rod that goes around the perimeter of the structure that is over a mile long, and the team still has to put another on, according to Christopher.

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The team’s dedication has not gone unnoticed.

“The students are working on it with little outside help,” Pina said. “They also work pretty late so they don’t spend much time in the heat.”

Christopher said he spends 12 hours per day at school, and uses his spare time to work on the project.

“It’s hard work,” Christopher said. “Being a student and trying to finish a project like this can be difficult.”

After the Sonoran Pentapus is completed, CAPLA will add additional structures in the surrounding area.

“It has got an integrated landscape design and we’re extending the Underwood Family Garden in the back of the school,” Trumble said.

The team is optimistic about the project’s estimated mid-December completion.

“It’s definitely doable if we manage our time properly,” Christopher said. “And it will be rewarding.”


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