Arlington Boulevard Part 1: Concrete Patterning

The development of a richly textured pattern relief surface is a hallmark of our work. This is exemplified by our Arlington Boulevard project in Virginia. The patterning was inspired by the native Redbud trees that once stood at the site. The patterned started by interpreting the veining patterns of the Redbud leaves. Actual leaves, when cropped and traced, formed the basis for the patterning system, seen as 2D line work, below.

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Original 2D line-work pattern key inspired by Redbud tree leaves.

This original pattern line work served as a guide to created faceted relief forms. Undulating curves sweep between the pattering lines creating graceful volumes that catch the light. Developed in 3D digitally, we try many options before deciding on the best patterns. This musculature, built upon the line work skeleton, is below.

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Draft 3D digital model patterning layout of the relief forms.

At this stage the patterning evolves even further with a texture map draped over the relief forms. The pattering, derived from a close up of leaf veins, adds a richness to the surfaces. This level of refinement involves close collaboration during the digital design process. This level of detail sets out work apart and represents the care and attention we deliver in our projects, as can be seen in the pattern layout below.

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Refined 3D relief modeling draped with leaf vein textures.

The blank background areas are filled with a pattern field inspired by the Redbud seed pods. These details tie the units together to create a cohesive whole. These details add another scale of interest to the panels, as seen below.

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Detail of the highly-textured Redbud seedpod-inspired surface made with digital modeling.

The digital model files are fed into a large scale router that carves the patterning into a huge block of high quality foam or MDF. This is a highly technical process that requires great expertise and flexibility. The carvings become the master positives for the rubber molds from which the concrete will be formed. Not all the work is done digitally, sometimes a human touch, with sandpaper, is needed to get the surface just right. Vicki Scuri is deeply involved in every aspect of the process included the finishing, seen below.

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Vicki getting “hands-on” sanding the carved master positives before mold making.

The final results speak for themselves. Each panel is a work of art, as seen below, and together they form a holistic expression in the site. The large scale gestures of the leaf patterns read at a great distance. The undulating forms play with light and shadow at the scale of the site. The intricate surface textures enliven the panel from close up. This attention to all scales of a design is critical to the enduring success of a project.

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Test pour of a pattern unit showing the highly complex level of textural relief.

Team Credits:

Vicki Scuri SiteWorks

Alexandr Polzin

AECOM Transportation


Arlington County