The Autodesk Applied Research Lab is an expansion of the Pier 9 Workshop focused on research and innovation in robotics. Unlike the original workshop and office space, which had a specific and extensive equipment list, this space is all about planning for the unknown and the flexible. We designed an open, double height space which allows teams to build, test, and showcase robots ranging from tiny drones to massive industrial arms and beyond. This includes a double height glass rolling door to accommodate large pieces of equipment as well as 5’ wide, 2” thick steel plates cast into the concrete floor to allow the users to bolt or weld supports and attachment points anywhere along the space.
The lab is supported by an open office on the mezzanine and a unique conference room crafted from a shipping container. The users wanted a conference room that could be sealed off from the noise and distraction of the lab but also open up to allow them to bring in a robot to display or allow them to host larger events. The modified container, a reference to the industrial nature of the work and the maritime context of the pier, features a 16’ wide glass bi-fold door that provides the desired connection to the rest of the lab. Inside the conference room, a custom table was designed in concert with Autodesk and fabricated in-house in the Lundberg Design shop. The water-jet-cut steel and local Bay Laurel slab table sits on industrial casters that allow it to be wheeled out of the conference room to make room for a large display or to serve as the center for larger gatherings in the lab. A patterned inlay running down the center of the table was built by the robotics team at Autodesk and includes thousands of custom 3D-printed lenses over an array of independently programmable LED diodes that can display images or bits of code and can be controlled from a laptop or tablet.