Self-Assembly Lab Defies Gravity At Biennial With “Rock Print”

"Rock Print" With Biennial Creative Director Sara Herda.

“Rock Print” With Biennial Creative Director Sara Herda.

It basically looks like a bunch of rocks.

Turns out, that’s exactly what it is, but fashioned very carefully. The Chicago Architecture Biennial collaborative installation known as “Rock Print” is the first architectural construction built by robotic machines using only rocks and thread. No adhesive or mortar holds the structure together.

"Rock Print."

“Rock Print.”

“Rock Print” appears to defy gravity. It also offers an intriguing possibility for future construction. The project uses a new category of random-packed, poly-disperse structures that can actually be fabricated in nonstandard shapes.

It features an impressive amount of rock. The structure goes way beyond manual-assembly techniques for dry stone walls. The project uses a unique combination of the latest digital fabrication and material science.

Collaborating on “Rock Print” were teams from Gramazio Kohler Research and the Self-Assembly Lab at MIT.

Location: 78 East Washington Street, The Loop

Author: Bill Motchan

Bill Motchan is a writer and photographer, and a former resident of the West Loop. He can be reached at

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