Josef Albers Exhibition looking at plates

The exhibition design was developed as part of a larger effort to foster exchange between the University of Oregon’s Department of German and Scandinavian, the Department of Architecture, and the University Libraries. A central requirement of the project was to create a lightweight, flexible framework that could display a wide range of works in various galleries at the university and other institutions. In response, the framework was designed as an open-ended kit of parts system. The resulting arrangement of the inaugural Josef Albers exhibition is, in a sense, arbitrary and represents only one of many possible outcomes.

Referencing the triangular studies of Anni Albers, the project is based on a tall extruded triangular module comprised of a set of basic components. The module’s super structure uses three plywood triangles (either open or with a plywood infill panel). 4′-0″ laminated bored rods connect the triangles at their points and the parts are locked together with threaded steel rods with concealed top connection bolts. A 45° right triangle geometry with lapped connection points allowed all the vertical connection rods to be the same length and allowed all the triangle modules to mirror in plan. This in turn gives the framework a maximum range of shape pairings and a wide range of possible formations for future exhibitions. Coupled with the straightforward tectonics of its assembly, the framework and exhibition takes on a playful, game-like quality.

The triangles were made using 1″-thick Baltic Birch plywood, CNC cut in nine individual pieces that were then laminated together to form the entire component. The relative complexity of the triangle components was offset by the economy of the remaining majority of the framework and enabled the vertical screens to be assembled in the most basic, economical fashion. These 8′-6″ slat panels were made using Pacific Albus, chosen for its extreme lightness, dimensional stability, and abstract white color. They were ultimately sanded and left unfinished. The panels are secured to the superstructure using countersunk fasteners and threaded inserts for rapid erection and disassembly. Works are secured using a double French cleat system, attached to the slats via a friction fit that allows hanging anywhere on the panels without causing future damage. Triangular benches for seating were also produced based on the basic module geometry. The entire system can be broken down and flat packed for transport.

Josef Albers Exhibition overall view 1
Josef Albers Exhibition overall view 2
Josef Albers Exhibition walking by
Josef Albers Exhibition several module groupings
Josef Albers Exhibition detail with wall text
Josef Albers Exhibition connection axonometric
Josef Albers Exhibition installation axonometric
Josef Albers Exhibition exterior view
Josef Albers Exhibition connection detail

Location: The Wallace and Grace Hayden Gallery, University of Oregon, Eugene, Ore., 2016
Gould Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, Wash., 2018
Completed: 2016
Team: Landry Smith, Daniel Kendra
Construction: Yankee Built
Program: exhibition framework
Area: 1,500 sq ft
Photography: Jeremy Bittermann
Awards: AIA Honor Award – Small Project, Portland, 2017
AIA Citation Award, Northwest and Pacific Region, 2018
Credits: The exhibition is part of a larger ongoing interdisciplinary collaboration initiated by Esther Hagenlocher, Associate Professor in the UO Department of Architecture and Interior Architecture, and Dorothee Ostmeier, Professor in the UO Department of German and Scandinavian. The exhibition was made possible through the generous support of Otto Poticha, FAIA, and Edward H. Teague, Head of the UO A&AA Library as well as numerous donors including: Gary Aquilina/CAS Architects, Rene Berndt, Burgsund and Dellany Architects, Roscoe Divine, Mahlum Architects, Margaret Gontrum, David Israel/BAR Architects, Bill Leddy and Marsha Maytum/Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects, Karen and Jerry Pike, Helmut Plant, Bill Sharp/Monks and Sharp Law Office, Robertson Sherwood Architects, Chris and Christine Smith, SRG Partnership, the University of Oregon, and the Oregon Humanities Center Endowment for Public Outreach in the Arts, Sciences, and Humanities.