From Wood to Steel
Properties of Materials

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Post Ductility - Metals in Architecture and Structural Engineering
Filmed in September/October 2009 at the third Columbia Conference on architecture, engineering and materials. Few concepts are as central in structural engineering as the ability of a material to sustain plastic deformation under tensile stress. The standardization of historically known deformation limits or ductile properties in most materials allows architects…
Rick Joy: Interludes
Rick Joy, an architect based in Tucson, Arizona, owes his reputation to his innovative residential designs, which respond gracefully to their desert environment. Joy exploits natural and passive energy-saving techniques and unusual materials, such as rammed earth and rusting steel, to create striking architectural solutions for living in a hot,…
Learning to See and Understand Structure
How are ideas for buildings, bridges, and towers transformed from sketches to concrete reality? What are the three essential qualities that make a structure great? What's the difference between seeing a structure and actually understanding it?
New Horizons
This film is about architects and artists who have broken new ground, developing original ideas and using new building materials. We meet a sculptor in Texas who has spent his last ten years welding a poetic house of steel; we see underground homes in New Mexico whose designs were inspired…
Out of Many, One: Composites
Episode 23 of The Nature of Matter
When different materials combine to create something very unlike its individual components, you have a composite. Learn what gives composites superior properties. Explore a wide range of examples, including concrete, carbon fiber, fiberglass, Kevlar, automobile tires, carbon nanotubes, and aerogel.
Monuments to Man: The Impact and Influence of Concrete on Civilization
Man walks, drives and rides on it. He lands his aircraft on it. He uses it to cross rivers or go through mountains, he builds his playgrounds, offices, homes and factories...his schools, universities, churches and almost everything he needs - right down to swimming pools and garden gnomes. It is…
Engineered Transparency - Glass in Architecture and Structural Engineering
Filmed at an international conference of prominent architects and engineers at Columbia University, Graduate School of Architecture in September 2007. After its role in the last century's call to a radical new architecture and urban life, glass architecture is today more ubiquitous than ever. A highly engineered product, glass has…
Nakagin Capsule Tower - Japanese Metabolist Landmark on the Edge of Destruction
Metabolism is the first Japanese architecture movement after the World War II, manifested in 1960 by Noboru Kawazoe, architecture critic, and the five architects, Kiyoshi Awazu, Kiyonori Kikutake, Kisho Kurokawa, Fumihiko Maki, and Masato Otaka. They envisioned a new direction for future Japanese architecture and urbanism. They created various architecture…
Robert A.M. Stern: 15 Central Park West and the History of the New York Apartment House
Even during the Great Recession of 2008, one new apartment house in New York City continued to set the bar for real-estate prices: 15 Central Park West. Designed by Robert A. M. Stern Architects, the lavish, limestone-clad structure from 61st to 62nd streets is arguably one of the most luxurious…
The Substance of Technology—Materials
Study the engineering materials available in classical antiquity. First look at the simple physics of compression and tension. Then consider six specific materials: stone, wood, clay, copper, bronze, and iron. Examine how they came into use and how their properties influenced the design of technological systems.
KieranTimberlake - Loblolly House (2007) and Cellophane House (2008)
KieranTimberlake, an architectural firm based in Philadelphia, is a recognized leader of the "green" architecture movement in the U.S. As this film illustrates, its founders Stephen Kieran and James Timberlake have been developing innovative means to combine sustainable design principles with off-site construction for the mass customization of houses. The…