by Murali Paranandi
Futurist Alvin Toffler said: "You've got to think about big things while you're doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction." He was probably not referring specifically to architecture students, but his statement applies well to students thinking about design concepts when learning to use computer-aided design applications.
My students in the Department of Architecture and Interior Design at Miami University applied CAD processes while preparing a project for the 2005 Metal Construction Association student design competition. The competition challenged the students to use metal as the primary structural material to design an outdoor band/ performance pavilion for a park in a historic Chicago neighborhood.
First-prize winners Mark Cerney and Taryn Nye used digital media to simultaneously address the structural, functional, environmental, and cultural requirements of the competition. After two weeks of research, analysis, and a site visit, this student team decided to design a kinetic interpretation of the park's landscape.
Their concept was a "light trap" to provide a show of color, light, and shadow even when there was no event scheduled at the venue. They also wanted to sink the pavilion into the land to shield it from street noise and to minimize its visual intrusion on the existing park landscape.
First Computer Moves
Nye began her computer work in a rational manner. Using Photoshop, she updated the site plan provided by the competition organizers, adding information from her site visit and from a Google map search. She then made this an underlay in form-Z and traced the existing pathways and placed symbols to represent the existing trees.
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