photo courtesy of: Ricardo Barros  





photo courtesy of: J. Wayman Williams

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See how Maria built the Heimberg Tennis Center model.


“Throughout this process I’ve learned that engineering is not simply working from a code book. Its experimentation with form and creative thinking that leads to some of the ideas of genius that we have today.”

Maria Janaro is completing her Masters of Science in Engineering (M.S.E.) in Structural Engineering at Princeton. She also studied structural engineering as an undergraduate at Duke University. She is currently teaching “CEE 262: Structures in the Urban Environment” for the second time for Professor Billington. For Maria, the course reignites her passion for engineering, reminding her of why she chose to go through this rigorous schooling in the first place. She is especially grateful to be working with Professor Billington, whose unique viewpoint has made a critical difference in the way that she views and will design structures.

Maria built models of Isler’s Grötzingen outdoor theater and sections of the Heimberg Indoor Tennis Center. Her first step was to cut the fabric to the correct measurements by using a cardboard pattern. Next, the cut fabric was laid flat on a table, and plaster was poured on top of it and smoothed into a thin, even layer. Then the ends of the fabric were clamped into the form. Finally, she took the plaster with her hands and smoothed out the curvature and weight distribution so that the fabric hung evenly. When the plaster dried, three to four more coats of plaster were applied with a paintbrush. The models could then stand completely alone when turned over on their supports. However, at this point the model still had one side that was burlap. Several coats of plaster were then painted on the top of the model.

The final stage was the finishing work. The models were very rough with plaster drips over the sides. First, she removed all of the dripped plaster from the edges of the models. The next step was to sand the models until smooth. The sanding was started by hand with very rough emery paper. However, after many hours she realized that this method would take far too long. At this point, Ted Griffith began working on the models as well. He had the idea of using a finishing sander to complete the work. Although the finishing sanders provided a very smooth surface, automotive body putty was used to fill in the uneven spots. The putty bonded well to the plaster and sanded to a smooth finish. When the models were finally smooth, they were sealed with primer and painted to offset the white landscape.




© 2003 The Princeton University Art Museum