Alex Jordan *13’s thesis project was a candy lover’s dream: Design and build a freestanding structure made entirely out of chocolate.
Assistant professor Sigrid Adriaenssens, Jordan’s thesis adviser and a chocolate-lover from Belgium, suggested the project as a way “to explore how a structurally and architecturally unknown material can not only inform but really drive the form and construction of a large pavilion.” Jordan’s work earned him a master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering.
Jordan developed a recipe for chocolate that would stay rigid at room temperature, cast 76 pieces at a chocolate factory in Pennsylvania, and constructed a 3-foot-by-3-foot curved dome, welding the pieces together with molten chocolate. The pavilion stood in an engineering lab for two months before it had to be dismantled because of “human interaction” (i.e., nibbling).
“Many people (including myself) ate some,” Jordan said in an email. The substance technically didn’t qualify as chocolate since it was made with vegetable fat instead of cocoa butter — and the taste, he said, was more like “chocolate-flavored wax.”