WIRED NEXTFest invites Virginia Tech architecture students, professor to create archway entrance to the festival

Detail of the NEXTFest archway

Detail of the NEXTFest archway

BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 19, 2008 – An undergraduate student team from Virginia Tech's School of Architecture + Design in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies led by Terry Surjan, associate professor of architecture, is traveling to Chicago this month to erect and display an archway/pavilion entrance to WIRED magazine's highly acclaimed NEXTFest at Millennium Park.

The festival, which is expected to attract more than 50,000 people, opens Sept. 25 to showcase global innovations that are transforming the world. Now in its fifth year, NEXTFest will include exhibits of sustainable design, next-generation healthcare, interactive art and design, humanoid robotics, and more. The Virginia Tech archway, “SuitCase Pavilion/Gateway 2.0,” is one of about 40 exhibits invited to display groundbreaking work that offers a glimpse of tomorrow.

In August 2008, Surjan and his students were invited to create the icon archway that will serve both as an exhibit and the official entry into NEXTFest after the “SuitCase Pavilion” they designed and created for last summer’s London Festival of Architecture caught the attention of NEXTFest organizers. The students used both analog (traditional) and digital technologies to conceive and create stacking and interlocking components that form both the pavilion and the archway’s structures. The students involved again have each packed two suitcases to travel to Chicago — one suitcase for their personal belongings and one to hold flattened components of the archway.

More than 14,000 parts for the NEXTFest archway structure were cut in Harrisonburg, Va., over ten days in September. The archway had to be completely re-manufactured, redesigned and reconfigured for the NEXTFest exhibit. With a footprint of 20 feet by 20 feet, the archway is three times the size of the structure Surjan and his students created for the London exhibit.

The architecture student team traveling to Chicago includes: fifth-year students in charge of materials performance research

Fourth-year students, acting as executive chairs of design, are

Third-year students include

This project builds on concepts and technologies that Surjan, a resident of Blacksburg, has used in award-winning, similar projects in 2004 and 2005. Surjan received a master’s in architecture from Columbia University and a bachelor’s from the University of Wisconsin.