November 19, 2009

Cosmic Ray Lab

Here's another science (fiction?) based concept that I've been kinda reluctant to post because it's not as instantly recognizable as the Astronomy lab I showed you back in September, and I've been struggling with how to explain it clearly. Below is an aerial view of a laboratory complex built around a huge device that collects and contains cosmic rays for study and experimentation. The vertical tower houses the giant radiation proof containment chamber and the doohickey on the roof is what harnesses the mysterious cosmic rays and focuses them down into the chamber (click on the images to view full size.)

The ground floor entrance shows the base of the cylinder (striped red & white) that leads up to the chamber. On the right, is a network of pipes connected to storage tanks that hold the super-cooled liquids (or whatever) that, when pumped up into the containment apparatus, somehow enables the scientists to safely study the volatile cosmic rays.

What I'm trying to convey here is the sense of a building totally devoted to a single purpose, to the elimination of almost all architectural flourishes. If you've ever been to Kennedy Space Center and gazed up at the vast monolith that is the Vehicle Assembly Building, you'll know what I'm talking about. Still, I felt it shouldn't be all hard angles, so I curved the support columns on the walkway canopy which leads out to a pleasant little seating area with a reflection pool and a kitchy futuristic sculpture.

Here's another view with different shadow settings.

Back at the lab, you can see the massive cylinder of the containment chamber surrounded by several levels of laboratory space, all interconnected by stairs and walkways. You might think the yellow safety railings took forever. Actually, each tapered window section is a component in SketchUp that contains the different levels, stairs and rails. After I made and detailed one, I simply copied, rotated and placed it on the two adjoining faces of the tower. Also, any changes I made to one component, automatically showed up on the other two. Neat, huh?

Here's a few views from inside. You'll notice that, like the astronomy lab, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of action going on here. Well, it'll be a while before I get around to furnishing this space with tables and chairs, computer stations, and all sorts of cool science paraphernalia.

Up on the roof, is the giant rotating dingus that harvests the enigmatic cosmic rays. I have absolutely no scientific basis for this thing, I just wanted it to look cool and functional. At the base is an elevated circular walkway and technical shack for monitoring and maintaining the rotating mechanism.

Here's another view showing the base and a small stair access. If I want to do this right, I'll have to figure out a logical placement of AC units, elevator machinery, etc. Finally, right up against the laughably inefficient safety railing, I've placed an idiot.

Well, I hope I've managed to make sense of these images and, at least, give an overall impression of what I was trying to accomplish with this. See you next time.


  1. Impressive work! I've just started in SketchUp and have a long way to go before I can even approach something like this. Love all the stairs and the huge cylindrical central column.

  2. Thanks Kurt. You'll be surprised at how fast the learning curve is on SketchUp, and how quickly you can produce detailed results.


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SketchUp/Screw-up by Timothy P. Butler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.