Structural Substances: Suspended in Air

For Structural Substances: Suspended in Air—the latest in a series of digital fabrication studios taught by lecturers Lavender Tessmer and Jason Foster Butz—graduate architecture students digitally designed, modeled, hand-assembled, and installed Spectroplexus, a 100-foot-long public sculpture commissioned by St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

Spectroplexus reacts to the site with the idea of "confluence," addressing both the geographical context of St. Louis and the constant current of diverse passengers through the airport. The terminal itself is a unique space that exhibits various hybrid identities, such as organic movement versus rigid configurations of people, as well as the artificial mechanisms of flight that resemble the biological organisms after which they were modeled. The title Spectroplexus reflects these concepts through a gradating array of geometric surfaces and the intricate armature on which it is suspended.

The construction of approximately 1,800 molded carbon fiber frames and polycarbonate panels was hand assembled by the team of graduate architecture students, who developed the concept and designed the project during the spring semester. The dual material palette reflects the hybrid nature of the airport space; while each material has rigid geometric properties, the system appears diverse and varied through the irregularities of pigment and resin. The curvilinear form of the assembly shifts character from different vantage points, both greeting passengers upon arrival and drifting above the central security waiting area.

The project is on view in the Terminal 2 Ticketing Lobby at St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

Follow the project on social media: #spectroplexus

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Project Team

Jason Foster Butz (faculty)
Lavender Tessmer (faculty)
Samantha Brown
Rachel Burch
Marija Draskic
Daniel Ho
Yigang Li
Gregory Smolkovich
Ellie Sonnenwirth Weisz
Michael Zhou

Fabrication Assistance

Ethan Miller
Sam Bell-Hart
Eve Bobrow
Michelle Chen
Jared Crane
Sarah Davis
Pablo Diego
Satria Djajasudarma
Mani Kaveripatnam
Yimeng Li
Yixin Lyu
Yutong Ma
Yuchen Song
Andrea Trinkle
Joseph Vizurraga
Si Wei
Shijing Zhu


St. Louis Lambert International Airport
Lambert Art & Culture Program


Support provided in part by the Regional Arts Commission, the Lambert Art & Culture Program, and TechShop St. Louis.

Special Thanks

Mary Campbell, Steve Condrin, Mary Dillender, and Connie Kraus of Washington University Real Estate


An Element of Surprise, Liam Otten, July 26, 2017
New sculpture hangs high above Lambert's Terminal 2, Jennifer Meckles, KSDK, June 15, 2017
Terminal 2's first commissioned site-specific art piece aims to distract viewers from travel woes, Willis Ryder Arnold, June 14, 2017
New 'Spectroplexus' sculpture to welcome travelers at Lambert, Uliana Pavlova, June 14, 2017
Sculpture Takes Flight, Liam Otten, May 9, 2017