Aaron Whelton’s “Stacked Toroid” in the Portland Building lobby January 17 – February 10

PORTLAND, ORE – Architect Aaron Whelton will present his Stacked Toroid project at the Portland Building beginning January 17th. This room-sized installation is part of Whelton’s design research at Portland State University’s School of Architecture and his ongoing investigation of the physical manifestations of digitally designed architecture.

The installation, titled Stacked Toroid, is site-specific and is designed to fill the lobby gallery space from floor to ceiling. This sculptural figure, the toroid, is a shape resembling a torus (like a doughnut) that is formed from lofted elliptical profiles. Visitors to the Portland Building will immediately notice that the shape of the installation seems to shift significantly as they move past it. Walking a closer elliptical orbit around the object reveals a variety of effects generated from a single detail—stacking—as the structural wood lattice intersects the boundary of the toroid’s surface.

Stacked Toroid combines sophisticated digital design technologies with simple methods of construction and assembly to explore the relevance of manual labor in the age of computation. The simple, primitive act of stacking wood, a utilitarian, space-making impulse, is given new expressive potential by forming a complex, computationally generated figure.

A number of logistical challenges had to be worked out to create Stacked Toroid, the primary one being that it is composed of over 650 individual wood members stacked in precise arrangements, but Whelton’s architectural and public art experience have prepared him well. The entire process of installing the work at the Portland Building has been carefully orchestrated to belie the intense, repetitive physical effort required for its making, and the final result presents the polished “easiness” we expect from digital objects.

Meet the Artist Event: Join us for a chance to meet the artist and discuss the installation in person on Wednesday, January 18th from 4:00 to 5:00 pm.  

About the Artist: Aaron Whelton studied architecture at the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Kentucky and is currently Assistant Professor at Portland State University’s School of Architecture. His practice includes work on public art commissions where digital design informs new ways of making place. These include the David Campbell Memorial in Portland and several collaborations with the artist David Franklin including the public art project Drift Inversion opening in Denver later this year.

Viewing Hours & Location: The Portland Building is located at 1120 SW 5th Avenue in downtown Portland and is open 8 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday. Stacked Toroid opens Tuesday, January 17, and runs through Friday, February 10.

The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) manages the 13’ x 8’ installation space in the lobby of the Portland Building and presents installation-based art there year round. For more information, including images, proposals, and statements for projects dating back to 1994, go to www.racc.org/installationspace.


The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) provides grants for artists, nonprofit organizations and schools in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington Counties; manages an internationally acclaimed public art program; raises money and awareness for the arts through Work for Art; convenes forums, networking events and other community gatherings; provides workshops and other forms of technical assistance for artists; and oversees a program to integrate arts and culture into the standard curriculum in public schools through The Right Brain Initiative. RACC values a diversity of artistic and cultural experiences and is working to build a community in which everyone can participate in culture, creativity and the arts. For more information visit racc.org.