Esquivel’s students create new installation for Bryan restaurant

Gabriel Esquivel

Gabriel Esquivel

“Black Narcissus,” an intricate architectural installation designed and fabricated by eight Texas A&M architecture students now graces the VIP room at the tony [La Riviera] ( restaurant in Bryan, Texas.

“The installation discusses issues of intimacy and self-contemplation, combining different sensations in a blue mood,” said Gabriel Esquivel, assistant professor of architecture.

Students scripted the structure’s design in Grasshopper, a graphical algorithm editor, using lessons learned in a fall 2011 digital modeling [workshop] ( led by Esquivel and David Hernandez, coordinator and instructor for generative and computer-aided design technologies for Monterrey Tech.

“’Black Narcissus’ highlights the college’s expertise in digital fabrication,” said Esquivel. “In creating the installation, students conquered technique, materiality and sensation. This is one of the most accomplished fabricated installations we’ve done at the college’s [digital fabrication facility] ( in terms of technology, management efficiency and fabrication time.”

The project included the efforts of Esquivel, Hernandez, graduate architecture students Arnold Ghil and Miaomiao Xiao and environmental design students Megan Arrington, Catlan Fearon, Hugo Ochoa, Le Phuc, project manager Erin Templeton and Dylan Weiser.

“We started by looking at fashion for inspiration,” said Esquivel. “The idea was to produce a structure that combines a parametrically designed large layer and nonparametric flowers. Through a process of aggregation, the flowers produce a sensation of excess and opulence.”

Students used a CNC router at the college’s Digital Fabrication Facility, also known as the Architecture Ranch, for three weeks to fabricate the approximately 1,000 pieces that constitute “Black Narcissus”, including 800 diamond-shaped pieces that constitute the bulk of the installation, 50 large flowers with transparent crowns and 100 small flowers.

“It took a week for us to put the flowers together with needle and thread,” said Esquivel. Students posted five iterations of the pieces’ back surface online for Hernandez to review.

After pre-assembling the piece in five parts at the ranch, students transported the parts to the restaurant, taking 17 hours to install it by identifying contact points on the wall taken directly from the pieces’ modeled in Rhino, a 3-D editing application.

In the spring 2010 semester, Esquivel’s students created their [first] ( permanent La Riviera installation, consisting of 4,000 plastic-injection molded flowers, wall and bar ornaments.

posted December 1, 2011