[Editor's Note: The following review was authored by Gideon Fink Shapiro and Phillip M. Crosby.]
A generation’s worth of experimentation with generative digital design techniques has seemingly created a “new normal” for architecture. But what exactly are the parameters of this “normal” condition? On November 14th and 15th Winka Dubbeldam, principal of Archi-Tectonics and the new Chair of the Department of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, called together some of contemporary architecture’s most prominent proponents of generative digital design techniques for a symposium, The New Normal, examining how these techniques have transformed the field over the past twenty years. According to Ms. Dubbeldam and her colleagues in Penn’s post-professional program who organized the symposium, digital tools have “fundamentally altered the way in which we conceptualize, design, and fabricate architecture.” Participants were asked not only to reflect upon the recent past, but also to speculate on future possibilities.
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A cross-section of postdigital design work illustrates the role of parametrics in the built environment.
Spawned from his 2011 show on Patrick Jouin, Museum of Arts & Design (MAD) curator Ronald Labaco conceived Out of Hand as a more comprehensive show that clarified the role of digital design, from its capabilities to its significance in our daily lives. “People just didn’t get it,” said Labaco of Jouin’s 2011 MAD show. “Unless you’re immersed in it, it can be hard to understand so I thought if we showed something like this in the galleries again, we needed to provide information that can be digested more clearly.”
Staged across three floors of the museum, with two exterior sculptures, Labaco said the show is an important program for MAD among other New York art institutions like MoMA, Cooper Hewitt, and the New Museum. The goal to raise awareness of 3D printing is timely, by chance. “Paolo Antonelli’s Design and the Elastic Mind, and two shows from Material Connection were complements to my show for the uninitiated,” Labaco explained. Out of Hand’s broad scope includes digital designing and fabrication processes like CNC milling, digital weaving and knitting, laser cutting, and 3D printing to display how these technologies influence the built environment. “It’s a historical look at the last 8 years and works from as early as 2005 are incorporated because, in my mind, that was when the major shift between rapid prototyping and 3D printing really occurred,” said Labaco. Read More
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LIT Workshop fabricated sleek lodge poles to complement the city’s heritage.
When Starwood Properties began to reimagine a new living room concept for the W Seattle, the existing first floor space featured a disconnected bar, restaurant, and lounge area, much like the traditional layout of a formal home. Portland, Oregon–based architecture firm Skylab Architecture was charged with knocking down the visual barriers for an open floor plan that resembled a more modern, casual living space.
Several preexisting columns could not be removed for structural reasons, so a truly open plan had to be amended. “In some ways you could see them as a negative, or they could be seen as a positive,” Skylab principal Brent Grubb told AN. “We try to turn those perceived negatives into a design element and make it unique.” Researching the city’s cultural and maritime history inspired the architecture team to combine the water-worn patina of shore-front pilings with the physical mass of wooden totem poles. The solution was a parametrically streamlined form that was fabricated in modular sections for swift installation. Read More
Next month, AN is providing registered architects the opportunity to earn 8 AIA LU credits and the chance to collaborate with industry experts on practical projects at Facades+PERFORMANCE Chicago. Mostapha Roudsari of Thornton Tomasetti is leading one of six full-day tech workshops programmed for October 25th at the Illinois Institute of Technology, where he will investigate building envelope performance through hands-on tasks.
For those with beginner level knowledge of Grasshopper, Roudsari will explore the relationship between building envelope performance and architectural design decision-making. Environmental Analysis for High Performance Building Envelope Design will involve a short introduction to the basics of building envelope performance evaluation, in addition to practical weather data analysis. Through a series of applications, this workshop will guide participants through an iterative method of understanding the issue, conducting design evaluations, setting up parametric models, leading environmental analyses, and drawing conclusions.
Roudsari is an Integration Applications Developer at Thornton Tomasetti where he specializes in environmental building design and simulation. His diverse expertise allows him to create automated performance-driven design and optimization workflows by integrating advanced parametric modeling with environmental performance analysis and multi-objective optimization algorithms. Roudsari is the developer for Ladybug and Honeybee, two environmental plugins for Grasshopper that allow users to import and analyze weather data and run parametric environmental studies using RADIANCE, DAYSIM and EnergyPlus directly from Grasshopper3D.
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An ambitious designer used Rhino to design and fabricate 20 variations on a chair in four months.
For a designer aiming to streamline the gap between design and manufacturing, parametric modeling tools are a natural solution. LA-based Alexander Purcell Rodrigues found a place to work in just such a way at the Neal Feay Company (NF), a 60-year old fabrication studio in Santa Barbara, California, that is known for its exceptional metalworking. Together, the designer and the fabrication studio created the Cartesian Collection of chairs, aptly named for the analytic geometry that helped facilitate close to 20 design variations on the same aluminum frame in just under four months. “Not only were we pushing the boundaries of aluminum fabrication, the aim was to simultaneously create a lean manufacturing process,” said Rodrigues.
Using Rhino with a Grasshopper plugin, Rodrigues developed a design for a chair that weaves together the simplicity of Western design with the complex ornamentation of traditional Eastern aesthetics. While the lines of the chair are clean and smooth, intricate embellishments on the back traverse multiple planes and angles, all on a shrunken scale. The time savings involved in designing with Rhino allowed the creation of another 19 variations on the theme. Read More
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Seven design variations are applied across 17 custom wooden benches, fabricated by Mark Richey Woodworking.
Sited above a vehicular tunnel and therefore bereft of old growth trees, the Plaza at Harvard University, with its aggregate porcelain paving and curvaceous, sculptural benches, stands in stark visual contrast to the school’s notably shady yard and north campus. Designed by Stoss Landscape Urbanism, the plaza serves as a multi-functional space for staff, students, and the local community. A large part of accomplishing this goal fell to the unique seating solution, a collection of custom-designed, wooden slat benches that aim to increase the function and user comfort of the public space. Some of the benches are meant for lounging with no back and a low seat height, while others are higher with full seat backs. Some twist in the manner of a Victorian tete-a-tete settee, while still others support a touchdown working posture.
Stoss’s design for the benches, sliced like a loaf of bread, was achieved in Rhino with a Grasshopper plugin. The parametric modeling tool was instrumental in defining the benches’ complex geometries. “At every change, the curves meet two general sections so there’s a morphology of that form work,” said Erik Prince, an associate at Stoss who worked on the plaza. “The wooden slats are an incremental radial splay of the overall geometry so every rib has a unique angle to it.” The design team produced a 3D model for each of the 17 benches. Since the benches were manufactured based on information contained in the digital files, a substantial portion of time was spent developing accurate models that could be extrapolated for the fabrication process. Read More
Interested in learning how to build parametric design models using Grasshopper for Rhino3D? DesignX, in conjunction with the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, is offering a workshop on Monday, May 20, 2013 from 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM that focuses on fundamental concepts and mechanisms with an emphasis on professional practice. Instructors Ronnie Parsons and Gil Akos will help participants understand pertinent applications of parametric design and will demonstrate how to use Grasshopper in creative practices. Interiors, architects, and anyone seeking to find out what parametric design is and when it is useful can register and attend. The workshop fulfills two AIA CEUs.
We know you’ve seen those sleek parametric designs that are all the rage in cutting-edge architecture, but have you ever wanted to make your own? Venturing into the software zoo of Grasshopper and Rhino can be daunting on your own, and understanding algorithms and computational geometry can sound like Greek to the uninitiated. Luckily, parametric expert Ronnie Parsons of Mode Collective has joined the upcoming facades+PERFORMANCE Conference taking place in New York City next week, April 11 and 12, and will help guide beginners into the exciting world of Parametric Design.
With a focus on fundamental concepts and workflows for creating performance-based design models with the parametric design tool Grasshopper for Rhino3D. Parsons’ Technical Workshop, Introduction to Parametric Design, will guide participants through a series of exercises designed to emphasize the relevant applications of parametric design for professional practice.
Register today for the Introduction to Parametric Design workshop and the facades+PERFORMANCE before space fills up. There are 8 LU AIA CE credits up for grabs, so head on over to the facades+PERFORMANCE homepage for more information.
Intrigued by parametric architecture but don’t know where to begin? Meet Mode Lab, an online network connecting creatives to everything architectural and design related including courses, talks, and workshops that help teach how to use advanced systems like Data Trees, Grasshopper, and Kangaroo. Other courses offer lessons in Organic Modeling to Parametric Pleating to Algorithmic Design. The group just launched their new website, with several upgrades that make taking courses even easier. Courses are now easily sortable by format, subject, or software; a growing community of instructors have joined the Mode Lab team; payment has been streamlines; and work by Mode Lab members is now featured on the site. Mode Lab’s growing online destination is transforming the way designers and architects interact, share, and gain the skills and knowledge to develop innovative ideas.