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Enabling Ingenuity


P_Wall (2013) | Andrew Kudless

By: Steve Guest, Principal with RMW architecture & interiors and Co-Chair of the 2014 TCA Convention Host Committee

Planning for the Tilt-Up Concrete Association (TCA) 2014 Convention in Northern California (9/29/14-10/1/14) is shifting into high gear and received a big boost last week when the Architecture Division of California College of the Arts (CCA), in San Francisco, agreed to form a collaboration with the TCA to assist with the design of the 2014 Convention’s community project.

The project is a continuation of the TCA Community Project Program, developed in 2010 by the TCA to encourage collaboration between member companies of the convention host city and to provide a vehicle by which these companies could give back to their communities. In addition to the narrative and program introduced by the project itself, the design of the structure should explore the architectural potential of tilt-up concrete construction becoming sort of a laboratory for creativity and innovation in tilt-up concrete construction.

IMG_0940For 2014, the TCA is sponsoring a student competition imbedded into CCA’s course titled ‘Generative Design’ during the fall semester. The goal is to tap into the creative energies of young students to challenge preconceived notions and continue to inject ingenuity into the industry. ‘Generative Design’ investigates the emergent relationships among architecture, engineering, biology and computation, and focuses on advanced digital design and fabrication techniques for architectural components.

The course syllabus states, “This course will explore generative design strategies and tactics. Processing, or the application of generative operations, is fundamental to the emergence of organization throughout all scales and types of material systems, from organic life to industrial assemblies such as buildings. These operations, and the rules that govern them, are embedded in how systems are grown or produced and have a large effect not only on a system’s form, but also its performance. Through a rigorous investigation of processing, the designers increase their capability to engage architecture in innovative ways and create high-performance structures.”

The course is taught by Associate Professor Andrew Kudless, an architect and founder of the interdisciplinary design and architectural studio MATSYS, also located in the Bay Area. “CCA is excited to partner with the TCA on this project as it provides students with real-world experience while still affording them the creative space to think about innovative design possibilities,” said Kudless. “Too often architects design without understanding the raw materials and construction techniques of their structures. Collaborations like this enable students to more effectively synthesize design and fabrication from the very beginning.”

Having executed several recent architectural commissions that explore the elastic potential of formwork, Kudless is no stranger to working in concrete. He is very mindful about integrating real world construction challenges into his curriculum and is excited to introduce his students to the potential of tilt-up. Kudless is currently in France finishing the installation of a commission of permanent work in concrete for the FRAC Centre (Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain de la région Centre).

The 2014 TCA Convention Host Committee is working with Kudless and the school to help organize the course work for the semester. Member professionals will present tilt-up processes and techniques during course lectures to help familiarize the students with the existing capabilities and potential design parameters using tilt-up construction. It is anticipated that the students will make one or more visits to local projects under construction to experience how panels are formed, reinforced and lifted into place. The semester’s work will culminate with a six-week design competition for the tilt-up community project that will be juried by TCA members as well as professionals, academics and members of the community. TCA Member firms will develop the winning design in collaboration with the winning designer(s). RMW architecture & interiors and Buehler & Buehler Structural Engineers have volunteered to serve as the Architect of Record and Structural Engineer for the project. As in the past, the TCA membership will be called upon to take on responsibility for construction of the winning project design and the supply of materials and accessories. A reception and exhibit of all of the student competition entries will be held at the convention to share the process with attendees.

As the project moves forward, the host committee along with CCA will investigate potential projects. The host committee and other members of the CCA faculty are currently reaching out to communities throughout the Bay Area to find a project site and program of the right scale and character. Some early suggestions have included a community park shelter and an enclosure structure for an urban farm. The effort is at a critical stage where all suggestions are welcome and participation from all interested parties is encouraged.

Moving forward, the host committee will need support and resources from membership for several components of this effort:

  • Guest lecturers for the classroom and participation on the jury
  • Projects under construction in the Bay Area (preferably near San Francisco) for a visit sometime in late September or October
  • Project site/program ideas

To connect with or, even better, serve on the 2014 TCA Convention Host Committee, please contact Mitch Bloomquist, Managing Director for the Tilt-Up Concrete Association (

To contribute ideas and resources or for more information on the 2014 community project, please contact Steve Guest, Principal with RMW architecture & interiors and Co-Chair of the 2014 TCA Convention Host Committee (, or John Harvey, Associate Principal at Buehler & Buehler Structural Engineers and Co-Chair of the 2014 TCA Convention Host Committee ( For more information on the work of Andrew Kudless, please visit

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TILT-UP TODAY, a publication of the Tilt-Up Concrete Association, is THE source for Tilt-Up industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the Tilt-Up industry. A subscription to TILT-UP TODAY is included in a TCA membership. Subscriptions for potential TCA members are also available. If you would like to receive a complimentary subscription to the publication, please contact the TCA.