Page T3.1 . 11 October 2000                     
ArchitectureWeek - Tools Department
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  • Once and Future Graphics Pioneer
  • Once and Future Graphics Pioneer, Part II

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    Once and Future Graphics Pioneer, Part II

    by B.J. Novitski

    The Program of Computer Graphics (PCG) at Cornell University, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, continues to set the highest standards for innovation in architectural design technology. Director Donald P. Greenberg has led the program since its founding in 1974.

    Though perhaps better known for its work in developing algorithms for photorealistic rendering, the PCG is also bringing such sophisticated technologies to the earliest years of design education. And, as one alumnus of the program reports, the influence of Cornell's program reaches back far and stretches wide.

    As described last week, the PCG's research focuses on improving the designer interfaces for architectural applications and refining the rendering algorithms by simulating the behavior of light and understanding the human visual perception system.

    From Real Photograph to Synthetic Image

    A third area of research is in "image-based" techniques. These techniques are already familiar through currently available technologies. For example, a digital photograph of an object or material can be "texture-mapped" onto the surface of a geometric model, giving the rendering the appearance of realism without requiring much geometric complexity.

    Another common application is in the animation technology pioneered by Apple Computer with the QuickTime VR format. Using QuickTime VR, several still photos taken at regular intervals for 360-degrees around a stationary viewpoint can be stitched together to create a panorama. Viewers can "look" around a 360-degree space by moving the mouse. The application is becoming popular for displaying architectural spaces on the Web.



    ArchWeek Photo

    In 1994, Cornell student Jason Ardizzone proposed a renovation of a "Theater in New York City" by combining photographs of an existing building with a ray-traced model and post-production lighting effects.
    Image: Program of Computer Graphics

    ArchWeek Photo

    Moreno Piccolotto demonstrates to his students sketching on the ITI VIsionMaker PS digital drafting table. The sketch routines, conceived in 1998 by Donald Greenberg, Piccolotto, and Michael Malone, operate at interactive rates.
    Image: Program of Computer Graphics


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