Parallax Gap Suspended Ceiling

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Parallax Gap Suspended Ceiling 1

Designed by FreelandBuck, Parallax Gap is an 83ft x 38ft suspended ceiling structure that interprets the line drawings of nine iconic American ceilings from the 19th and 20th centuries.  The creation of the design required close collaboration with Fabric Images, Inc., who manufactured the canopy and played a key role in developing the fabrication technique. The solution was achieved using a non-woven tensioned fabric.  Depth was realized through printing of color and shading along with the strategic alignment of eight specifically positioned layers.

Parallax Gap is an 8 month installation on display at Renwick Gallery’s Grand Salon within the Smithsonian. The ceiling offers illusions in perspective to viewers below.  Achieving this required the use of materials that were fine, yet rigid enough to maintain the integrity of shape with 50% of the material being cut out.

The three dimensional representation of line drawings was represented through cut patterns within the fabric. Latticed drawings were created in Rhinoceros and Grasshopper software which were merged with the graphic representations of each section and each layer.

Once the files were aligned, the fabric was CNC cut, creating the latticed pattern representing the isolated lines, hatches and curves.

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When choosing a fabric, certain qualities had to be accounted for.

  • The fabric would have to maintain its shape with 50% of the material removed.
  • The fabric, once cut, could not have any unraveling or curling along the edges.
  • The fabric had to be polyester-based and printable using the dye sublimation print process.
  • The fabric had to meet fire codes for the installation site.
  • The fabric needed enough strength and rigidity to support strategically placed LED tape lights at opening areas.
  • The fabric had to be available within the short timeframe required for completion.

Meeting these requirements was a 10 foot wide industrial grade non-woven polyester. 500 yds of material were required for the project.

Once the fabric was printed and cut, it was finished with a silicone membrane along the perimeter which inserted within a perimeter frame made of round, powder coated proprietary aluminum extrusion. Aiding in the tension were strategically placed cables.  The finishing style was minimal and clean, keeping in line with the fine detail of the design.

Each layer was suspended, one from the next, for a total over-all height of nearly 8 feet.

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Parallax Gap transforms the gallery into an immersive experience for guests. The precise three-dimensional representation affords perspective that changes based on vantage points within the space. It takes the art of drawing to the physical realm.  As stated by Brennan Buck, partner with FreelandBuck, “Fabric Images was willing to work with us over a number of years on several speculative projects while we developed the material and design strategies to execute Parallax Gap… Fabric Images is open to experimentation and multiple ways of executing a project, but they also have the expertise and proprietary products and materials to produce very high-quality results.”

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Design:                    FreelandBuck

Fabrication:           Fabric Images, Inc.

Engineer:                NOUS Engineering

Installation:           Smithsonian,FreelandBuck, Fabric Images

Fabric Images

Fabric Images, Inc. is a premier manufacturer of printed and non-printed tension fabric architecture and material solutions. Our focus is on integrating structural frame and textiles into environments to enrich brand quality and the expressive identity of a space.


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