Joel Frank


 Final Installation / Light Testing

Final Installation / Light Testing

 Detail Elevation

Detail Elevation



As co-project manager, I oversaw the fabrication design, mechanical layout, and physical building of this project. I created CAD models and technical fabrication sheets that guided myself and my team through our series of 3 design phases. We extensively tested colors, materials, and finishes, creating countless mockups and prototypes that addressed all areas of the unknown. Once we finalized designs, we moved into the fabrication phase where I oversaw the the welding, CNC operations, and mechanical construction of the 12 panels that make up the facade. My goal was to bring us from conceptual design to concrete buildable final product with an impeccable level craftsperson-ship that our client would appreciate; I feel like this was accomplished. Beyond design and fabrication, I managed scheduling and deadlines using gantt charts as well as administrative tasks for crating, shipping, and our work onsite with construction teams in Colorado during installation. 

 CNC Operations

CNC Operations

 Fabrication in SF studio

Fabrication in SF studio

Materials and Techniques

Designed in Grasshopper and developed for machining in Rhino 3D, the geometric flow of this facade came from the patterning of LEDs which was scripted in TouchDesigner. Held in alignment by steel frames welded and powder coated, each panel has a unique CNC milled back piece which allows electronics to pass through while aligning the wooden 'ribs' that make up the topography of the front. An interlocking system of stainless steel standoffs hold the CNC milled acrylic diffusers in place over strings of LEDs encased by custom removable light trays. The electronic drivers and decoders are held in steel faced Alupoly containment boxes at the base of each panel with electron passthroughs at the back. 


Crating and installation in Denver

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WAVEFORM integrates electronic sensors and LEDs to simulate ripples of energy colliding and passing through the air like waves. Built for Lockheed Martin's Aerospace Center at the University of Denver, CO, this powerful facade mimics the visual affect of a jet reaching supersonic speed.

Materials: Steel, Wood, LEDs, Acrylic, Aluminum


Colliding energy waves during design phase simulations

Design Objective


Simulation was the key. We simulated various effects using computer models that really gave us a sense of what energy overlapping might look like; similar to water droplets breaking a calm surface. The waves ripple through each other and overlap to visually represent the energy that carries them. To show that effect using kinetic LEDs felt analogous to the sound waves created when a jet travels faster than 767 mph and creates sonic waves. 



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POWER-LIGHT-SPEAKER easily allows you to charge your phone, your computer, and other devices while setting the mood with an RGB voice activated light and integrated speaker system. It features a “wiggle-proof” cleat that holds perfectly to a wall or table to alleviate the struggle of plugging and unplugging with two hands.


Born out of frustration with the basic home and office power strips, this concept project is a labor of love that turns a cumbersome utility that clutters a room into a cross functional pleasure to have around.


Development sketches

Process sketch


Design Objectives:

  • MAKE POWER STRIPS EASY TO MOUNTWireless power is the future but until then, I'm tired of power strips that are near impossible to fix to a wall by aligning two screws that they don't come with and barely hold the it to the wall making it necessary to use to hands to unplug something.  


  • STOP RUINING THE FUN SHUI OF A ROOM. Make them nice on the eyes. Beautiful finishes, subtle details, creative colors, making them nice would go a long way. I love my LifX Alexa voice activated night lights. I love my voice activated speakers. They both just sit off in the corner right night to my power strips. Why not combine these options int a compact unit that is an asset to a room not an eyesore?  


  • WiFi ROUTERS SUCK. LETS FIX THAT WITH INTEGRATION. The oh-so ugly WiFi router sits on the same cold rung in my book ugly stuff in a home or office. By connecting this device online and activating it via your internet provider it function as a WiFi tranciever. 

Materials and Techniques:

CNC milled aluminum shell and speaker faceplate that is dye anodize for colorway options. The cord is rayon coated for the option of patters and colors. The plug head is on a ball bearing that allows the device to easily rotate any direction for use as an extension cord as well to plug in the hard to reach vacuum or iron for a sec. The mounting plate (french cleat) is anodized aluminum to match the body and comes with counter-sunk holes and hardware for easy installation on a wall or desk. The whole unit slides onto this "french cleat" via a recessed cavity on the back of the unit which holds it secure from moving up or down and central groove that slats in to also stop lateral movement. On top is a 60% opacity UV stable acrylic diffuser covering an RGB spectrum LED light that is adjustable by voice or downloadable phone/desktop application. Too boot, this power strip links to your internet provider enable its WiFi transceiver. 




Inspired by California's native Anemone plant. Know as "Daughter of the Wind" in Greek, ANEMONE is a permanent public artwork installed in Albany CA.

Materials: Steel and Corian




As my first project at Future Cities Lab, my role was to assist our concept designers adapt the 3D CAD models into fabrication diagrams that showed bending schedules for an hydraulic tube bender, tube notcher, and do CAM layouts for the G-code to mill Corian panels on a 3-axis CNC router. As a certified welder in California I also welded much of the final structure before shipping it off for galvanization and powder coating. I organized the final installation details and worked with riggers and crane operators on site to physically install the work on site in Albany. 


Materials & Techniques



The design of ANEMONE is a beautiful series of complex intersecting points that expand outward into their individual pedal clusters as the whole compositions slopes gently downwards. This synchronistic movement was created parametrically in Grasshopper 3D and baked into Rhino to be developed into CAM settings for fabrication. Each bend angle and waterjet cut component was was digitally tested through simulations before being prototyped and confirmed as successful. Once the geometries were confirmed, we built an extensive wooden jig to hold the steel at precise angles whiles being welded in place. We worked with engineers to sign off on the structural integrity of our componetns before having them waterjet cut by a 3rd party fabricators. The curved steel bars were bent using a hydraulic bender in our shop space in San Francisco before being welded together, powder coated, and mechanically fastened. The column bases were welded and hot-dip galvanized, before be installed on site. Once the steel structures were complete, we milled out the white and aqua colored corian panels and installed them in the steel structure before using a crane to lift them all in place. 





Design Objective:

  • CREATE A DYNAMIC SHADE CANOPY THAT CHANGES WITH THE TIME OF DAY. The concept of light and shadow as a building block for the life of the Anemone plant was foundational and infiltrated the direction of the design from the start. Jason our founder would discuss how the structures themselves should be beautiful yet also just be a tool for the sun to pattern the ground. Parametrically spacing the holes cut in the Corian and creating upward and downward folds throughout the canopy allowed  



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This project was a private art commission done for VINA ENOTECA, an Italian restaurant in Palo Alto. Derivative of an exhibition I had at San Francisco's  Minnesota Street Project, this work engages the monochromatic space with bursts of color and textures to compliment the range of food emerging from the kitchen.

Like my other work, I contrast the corporeal feel of ceramics against the rigidity of steel and armature structures.  

Materials: Custom glazed ceramic stoneware held up by a steel armature.

Dimensions: 144" x 120" x 6" 


Artwork pieces just emerged from the kiln


Rhino 3D Model and Octane Render

Gallery exhibition with the first version of this project at Gallery 201, Minnesota Street Project

 Rhino CAD Model for RFQ

Rhino CAD Model for RFQ

Rhino 3D Model and Octane Render


Design Concept:

Growing up I was always nose in the dirt catching snakes. As i get older and return to the fields and gardens of my childhood, I find that the snakes are gone. In this piece, I explore the existential side of perception and how it undetectably shifts under our feet. Are the snakes gone because the envi-ronment has changed, or do the snakes appear to be gone because I am now over 6' tall and no longer on their level? Have I changed or have my surroundings? Each hanging ceramic piece is part of a wild and free feral snake which represents shifting identities and perceptions in my life; a reminder to always try and see things from multiple sides.



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Lighting test at our design studio in San Francisco

Over a football field in length, this project presented unique design and fabrication challenges that our team overcame to complete this installation for the city of Washington D.C. I co-project managed the project's completion with our head designer Jeff, him doing schematic designs, me overseeing the mechanical details, materials, finishes, and fabrication schedules. Similar to our other projects, I executed a 3-step process to solve design concerns during the fabrication process. First getting started with quick and dirty prototypes until we had identified our known unknowns. We then extensively built out each section until the project coalesced and aligned in physical space. Once we were confident in our revised computer models after prototyping and the material details had been confirmed, we used CNC tube benders, Waterjet cutters, other digital fabrication tools and 4 months of welding to bring this project to life. Be built everything from scratch in our shop and design studio down to soldering the electronic wires and creating outdoor rated IP cable connectors. 


Render of site for initial design proposal


Materials & Techniques


The founders of FUTURE CITIES LAB, Nataly and Jason developed the concept design for LIGHTWEAVE over many years until it finally took on this flowing form of interlocking lattices. Created parametrically in grasshopper around centerlines that make up the support columns, the lattices cantilever out into space projecting light along the pedestrian path. There are six sections of the project, three on either side of the underpass. Each section has 26 "clusters" that are made up of two intertwined stainless steel loops with a bent aluminum channel that holds the LED. Each loop was CNC bent in 2 parts, the outer loop and the "saddle" which is a consistent flat section that is welded to a waterjet cut mounting plate that bolts to the support beams. The LED channels that hold the lights were a particular challenge when fabricating. The two walls of the channel would collapse in on themselves when bent around a die so we developed a removable mandrel system to prevent that. Once bent, the aluminum channels were bolted with rivet nuts to one side of the stainless steel lattice before the electronics were installed. Every component had to be bent and welded with tolerances less than an 1/8th of an inch. To maintain a formal consistency that tightly adhered to the flow of the parametric computer model, we created alignment jigs, numbering systems, and automated Q.C. checks during each stage of the process.  The bending angle tolerances had to be particularly low for the overall structure to align.

Preliminary rendering during the proposal phase 


Plan view of two two portions

Design Objectives:

  • CAN THESE IMMERSIVE SPACES ACTIVATE OTHERWISE NEGLECTED VOIDS? LIGHTWEAVE is positioned along a walkway beneath a train overpass near central station in Washington D.C. The site of an underpass can be considered a neglected space in cities, with this project we wanted to bring that space to life with the concept of a light guiding the way.


  • CAN OUR URBAN ENVIRONMENTS BECOME SENTIENT PARTICIPANTS IN OUR DAILY LIVES? From the outset making LIGHTWEAVE interactive was central to the design objectives. Integrated with sensors that detect sound and movement that alter the pace and color of light, the progressing light acts as a companion to pedestrians along their way.