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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

sg2012 kicks off in Troy, NY

March 23rd, 2012 by Susan Smith

Last night at SmartGeometry 2012 (sg2012) (hosted by Bentley Systems) kicked off for the press with a tour of the workshop itself, located in the EMPAC building on the RPI campus in Troy, NY.  This is where architects are busy putting together their projects, working in “clusters” with various materials. The theme is “Material Intensities – simulation, energy, environment.” Participants have been working in their clusters for four days now.

The building itself was designed by Grimshaw and is sited on a steep hillside overlooking the Hudson River. It combines five different performance environments – a 1200 seat concert hall, a 400-seat theater, two adaptive performance studios and a dance studio. The acoustics in this building are truly state of the art, with sails installed in the ceiling of concert hall.

Today, we were treated to a Talkshop day where the participants are sharing some of their findings.The idea of the conference is for the cluster groups to have four days of an active working environment and to continue that process with the Talkshop and symposium to reflect on

In session 1, Branko Kolarevic of the University of Calgary stated,  “We’re looking at materials and instead of seeing materials as physically static things, we’re looking at the built environment as spaces with shifting boundaries, flows. Is there a way to build a new way of relating to materials? Are we poised to take advantage of new research in materials and innovation?”

Kolarevic said we are coming up with new ways of looking at buildings, we expect them to be adaptive, flexible, interactive and responsive. That way of looking at buildings is not new – some events over past decade have done this.

The discussion included a look at “adaptive buildings” where the intention was to look at building dynamics and environmentally responsive building facades.

Session 2 focused on “environments and conflicts” Bentley’s Dru Crawley talked about how LEED building performance is not working as anticipated. Energy predictions are innaccurrate – there are often energy savings but the baseline may have moved. There is also a lot going on with energy sources before getting to the building.

Another discussion was about how space is cheap and materials are expensive, yet architects are generally taught to design space.

“A Matter of Scale” was session 3. Marie O’Mahony of OCAD University, with extensive background in textile design,  talked about  nanotechnology in textiles for architecture and how that is a question of scale. She is interested in DNA and nanotechnology right through to the carbon nanotube that are now costly and niche areas, but these areas are advancing.

Some of the participants on this panel were from scientific backgrounds – physics, chemistry and other areas of scientific research.

An extended discussion of what architects will need to learn for the future entertained the possibility of learning some material science as well as biology, as the future points to the possibility of the architect not only building the building but also creating the materials that the building is built with.

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