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MANUFACTURING FREEFORM ARCHITECTURE

Still mired in decades-old technologies, most architects are missing one of the greatest opportunities of the computer revolution. Even if they use computer-aided drafting software, these architects are following an old pattern of creating paper drawings for the later interpretation - or misinterpretation - by builders with conventional tools. Why shouldn't the architect's computer do the construction too?

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ONCE AND FUTURE GRAPHICS PIONEER

In the glitzy world of computer-generated visualizations that dominate movies and magazines today, it's easy to take for granted the photographic quality that architects are able to give their renderings of proposed buildings.

But behind the scenes, there have been have been four decades of grueling, dedicated, and inspired research to make possible these synthetic images that are indistinguishable from photographs.

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ONCE AND FUTURE GRAPHICS PIONEER, PART II

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.

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DESIGN COURSE DOES DIGITAL

The goals and aspirations of teaching a digital design process vary widely between different educational institutions, as well as between academia and the profession.

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FUN WITH COMPUTER-AIDED MODELING CLAY

One hundred years ago, Spanish architect Antonio Gaudi was astonishing the world with sculpturally creative, irregular, organic forms. While others in the profession worked with straight edges, Gaudi invented his own methods for modeling parabolic arches from the catenary curve created by suspending a length of chain between two points.

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SIGGRAPH PRESENTS THE FUTURE OF COMPUTER GRAPHICS

Peek into a kid's world of video games and you may see the future of computing technology for architects. Despite the differences between the realms of work and play, the fact is that games and movies are fueling the economy and the direction of serious computer graphics research and development.

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NEW VIRTUAL REALITY THEATER SUPPORTS ARCHITECTURAL RESEARCH

Architecture students at Iowa State University (ISU) can walk into a magical environment and take on seemingly super powers. They can explore the architecture of the Roman Empire, sculpt architectural forms with their hands, and test structures in the process of design.

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SCALE MODELS FROM THIN AIR

Some day in the next millennium, architects may be able to put design information into a machine that will automatically construct a complete building. Hints of this distant future are visible in the experiments of Japanese construction companies, in which robots assemble building components in the field. Already the idea is being implemented, albeit at a much smaller scale, with a new family of technologies called rapid prototyping. This enables designers to build physical models directly and automatically from 3D computer models.

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VIRTUAL CRANBROOK UNITES TRADITION AND TECHNOLOGY

In the 1920s and 30s, the famous Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen committed both his talent and his spirit to the Cranbrook Academy of Art . This pioneer of the Arts and Crafts movement served as campus architect and president of the art school in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. His goal was to create an environment for master artisans and students to live and work together.

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CAD FOR AEC PRINCIPALS

Does computer-aided design provide significant business benefits to architecture, engineering, and construction companies? In many cases, the heads of these firms are skeptical, according to new studies. Is this a matter of perception, or are the software technologies really failing to measure up to vendors' claims for efficiency?

At the recent Congress on the Future of Engineering Software (COFES 2000), technology experts Kristine Fallon, FAIA, and Kenneth Stowe, P.E., offered their opinions on the problems and the solutions.

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SYSTEMS 2000 HOSTS TECHNOLOGY PANOPLY

The biggest attention getters at this year's A/E/C SYSTEMS Show may have been the project extranet companies and CAD systems, but there were plenty of other interesting products on display. These serve the construction industry in areas as diverse as presentations, structural analysis, team communications, job site reporting, and legal documentation.

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A/E/C SYSTEMS TEAMS WITH PROJECT EXTRANETS

For years we've been told that fragmentation is one of the greatest problems in the architecture/ engineering/ construction industry—and that computer technology could solve it by giving us a common language and interchangeable data models.

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CAD MEETS INTERNET AT A/E/C SYSTEMS 2000

In all the excitement over the predominance of Internet technologies at this year's A/E/C Systems Show, it might have been easy to lose track of the software that architects most depend on. Computer-aided design systems remain as mission-critical as they've ever been.

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ENERGY SOFTWARE TO LINK DESIGN AND SCIENCE

For decades, research scientists have been developing extremely sophisticated analysis tools to study the energy performance of buildings. These tools have been effectively unusable among architects, however, because the interface is cumbersome, the output is largely numeric, and the input requires mechanical engineering data normally associated with the end of the architectural design process.

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GREEN CAD AND 3D DESIGN SURVEY

Environmentally conscious, "green" design has gained a respectable following among those already inclined to see the world through emerald lenses. Everyone else is waiting to see if it's worth the trouble.

One barrier has been a lack of truly usable building energy simulation tools. To build these, software developers need to understand the design process through the eyes of nonengineers. However, a new survey uncovers subtleties in how design software is applied in practice.

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DESIGN BY PHYSICS: INNOVATIVE SPACE PLANNING TOOL

In the Department of Architecture at Texas A&M University in College Station, Scott Arvin, working with professor Donald House, has developed a system for "physically based space planning." Arvin's computer prototype accepts building program parameters (square footages, adjacency and separation requirements) and constructs viable floor plans.

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THE RIGHT TOOL AT THE RIGHT TIME

Many architects can recall a favorite design instructor who could glance at their drawings then pull down the perfect reference book to help in further developing an idea. If humans can infer design intent from sketches, maybe computers can too.

So reasoned Ellen Yi-Luen Do, now a professor at the University of Washington. For her dissertation for a Ph.D. from the Georgia Institute of Technology, she investigated whether a computer could be as insightful as that helpful instructor.

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HAND-CRAFTED DIGITAL MODELS

From Brazil comes good news for anyone who has ever felt like they have one hand tied behind their back when manipulating 3D forms with a 2D drawing instrument.

University of Brasilia architecture professor Edison Pratini has been developing the "3D SketchMaker," which relies on natural, expressive hand gestures for creating 3D computer models. This process makes form-giving easier and removes the discontinuity between conceiving a form and translating it into a digital model.

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TURNING TODAY'S RESEARCH INTO TOMORROW'S SOFTWARE

Over the past four weeks, a series of articles in ArchitectureWeek has looked at four examples of university research projects that may some day become commonplace design tools for architects. Each of the four demonstrates a narrowly focused capability that is desirable but missing from current practice.

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ARCHITECTS TECHNOLOGY SUMMIT

The Internet is changing everything — including the practice of architecture. This strong message emerged from a recent conference: understanding technology, and the value of technology to the client, gives a design firm an important competitive advantage.

What technological changes are coming, and how soon, were the hot topics at the Architects Technology Summit, Release 3.0, held in Philadelphia on May 3. The summit was co-hosted by the CMD Group and The Greenway Group.

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COLOR BY DEFAULT OR INTENTION

Human experience of the world incorporates a full spectrum of color in light, shadow, and surface. A stroll through many architecture studios, however, reveals an abundance of black line drawings and achromatic models. Architecture in its embryonic stages seems often to exist in a world without color.

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COMPUTER VISUALIZATION AS A TOOL FOR CRITICAL ANALYSIS

For decades, critics have analyzed Frank Lloyd Wright's Darwin D. Martin House based on direct observation and 2D architectural drawings. But their conclusions lack the insight made visible by 3D computer visualizations. This study uses CAD techniques more commonly applied to design and presentation and re-evaluates both the house and the critical statements traditionally accepted about Wright's design.

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ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN AND VIRTUAL WORLDS

The creation of "virtual worlds" has emerged as a new design field, a rapidly expanding area of study, and possibly even a new profession. As these worlds become increasingly important in our living environment, architectural practitioners and students need to rise to the challenge. But until now "living in the virtual realm" has raised more attention among philosophers and social scientists than among architects. To stimulate a needed debate, we ask: what are the implications of architectural design in virtual worlds?

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SMALL FIRM MAKES IT BIG

By B.J. Novitski

When John Marx, AIA, was a senior designer at a large architecture firm, a joke circulated that "two guys and a fast computer" could accomplish more work, more quickly than a management-heavy design department. Indeed, with well-honed skills in both design and computer modeling, Marx often completed the firm's competition entries for very large buildings with a team of only two or three.

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