High-end architectural millwork firm Mark Richey Woodworking won an Autodesk Inventor award in August for its ongoing work on the Helzberg Hall, home of the Kansas City Symphony.

Based in Newburyport, MA, Mark Richey Woodworking was recognized for its expert use of Autodesk Inventor software in developing and installing the precision millwork required for the new performing arts center.

Fabrication and installation of the 1,600-seat Helzberg Hall took just half to one-third as long because of how the software was implemented, said Greg Porfido, COO of Mark Richey Woodworking.

To develop the complex wood components for the 80-foot-tall, domed hall, Mark Richey Woodworking had to ensure that each part aligned perfectly to create smooth, polished surfaces. Designers had to meet specific density requirements dictated by the acoustical design, which was developed by acoustician Yasu Toyota. Finishes, surfaces and geometry play a crucial role in the acoustic performance of a room.

Digital prototyping helped ensure all the parts fit together after they were cut.

Part of the new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, MO, Helzberg Hall was designed by architect Moshe Safdie. Its organically curved, open design will allow members of the audience to interact with each other naturally and enjoy virtually perfect sound quality.

Digital Prototyping, Modeling
Training and consulting services from Autodesk Gold Partner M2 Technologies helped Mark Richey Woodworking use digital prototyping to tackle the project. Interference-checking capabilities of the Inventor software ensured all the parts would fit together correctly.

“Creating digital prototypes of the various wooden elements allowed us to identify and fix problems ahead of time, before we’d cut a single piece of wood,” said Ritch Winokur, engineering manager at Mark Richey. “If there were any interferences between the parts and the structural elements of the hall — or among the parts themselves — we would just remodel the part.”

Inventor software enabled designers to digitally model the different curvatures and complex 3D geometry of each wooden part, while Autodesk Vault Manufacturing software helped them to effectively manage and keep track of the project’s thousands of unique parts. This approach ensured that each wooden part aligned perfectly with other parts, letting Mark Richey Woodworking achieve the organic, smooth surfaces needed for the concert hall.

“By reducing reliance on physical prototypes, digital prototyping saves companies time and money,” said Robert Kross, senior vice president, manufacturing industry group at Autodesk. “Mark Richey Woodworking’s work on the Helzberg Hall project shows how digital prototyping can significantly streamline even the most complex and demanding assignments.”

Use of the application enhanced coordination among project partners, including the metal fabricator and general contractor. By using Inventor to check geometry supplied by the metal subcontractor for the hall’s rail work, Mark Richey caught a potential error and resolved it virtually, rather than on-site.

The Inventor award is not the first time the company has been cited for excellence. Most recently, Mark Richey Woodworking was featured in the September 2010 issue of Wood & Wood Products magazine for its business strategy. Mark Richey himself was also named one of Woodworking’s Market Leaders in the January 2009 issue of W&WP.

To develop complex woodwork for the 80-foot-tall, domed Helzberg Hall concert facility,
Mark Richey Woodworking designed and virtually prototyped the wood parts with Autodesk
Inventor (illustration above) to predict alignments before cutting began.

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