Parametric Design: Expo Line Terminal in Santa Monica

Precedent_Santa Caterina Market |  Enric Miralles Benedetta Tagliabue (EMBT)

The MTA’s Exposition light rail line will extend to Santa Monica in 2015 and the agency intends to build a maintenance facility near the terminus, and has recently completed negotiations for land on Olympic Boulevard. With this context, the design problem was a Light Rail Maintenance Facility with a paint booth, a maintenance area with trenches, three heavy hoist bays and shop areas as program requirements. The project aimed to integrate structure, surface and building form, with the extensive application of steel plate welding technique


The process started by looking into two-dimensional line patterns and developing a three-dimensional tile out of it.  Each line from the pattern was given a specific “depth” when they behave structurally in the tile, some taking up tensile stress, the others for compression. Two types of tiles are developed, one from line work of a cable net ,the others from a double layered grid (space frame).


All the surfaces of the tiles are resolved into two dimensional surfaces, modeled with card board and glued, which correspond to water-jet steel plate cutting and welding techniques in actual construction realm.


It soon became an exercise of populating the two different type of tiles onto a manipulated roof grid, which is based on the arrangement of the programs underneath and the size of grids change gradually according to the natural illumination needed. The roof has an undulating profile and the overall topography can be understood as nine adjacent but structurally independent surfaces, behaving alternatively as space frame and cable net structures.


Steel plate welded columns with stiffeners receive loads from the roof tiles and transmit to the ground , and they are placed with considerations of the tributary areas of the roof.


The roof has another layer of glazing clad, and the four sides are enclosed by glass walls independent from the major steel structure.

plan lines-no roof pattern [Converted]

red mark roof plan