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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 »

AEC Media Day 2011 – Day One

April 6th, 2011 by Susan Smith

At Autodesk AEC Media Day 2011 held in Waltham, Mass, this week, Jack Lashenik, vice president of American STRUCTUREPOINT, Inc., Indianapolis, IN profiled two transportation projects for which his company used Civil 3D and 3ds Max Design. American STRUCTUREPOINT has been in business for 44 years, and employs 300 people. They have a lot of experience working with Autodesk products.

One project was the Keystone Parkway, the first teardrop shaped interchange in the U.S. (or possibly the world)  located in Carmel, Indiana. The affected area was a four mile, heavily traveled corridor. The city of Carmel and the mayor wanted to make it a visionary project for Carmel, so Carmel would take over the rights to the state highway to come up with solutions for six interchanges which were the worst in the county.

They came up with a teardrop elevated interchange roundabout. They used 3D Studio Max superimposed into actual aerial photogrammetry, in order to ensure the design makes sense and is accurate, and there are no questions as to right of way.

The teardrop interchange reduced commutes to 5-10 minutes from 40-45 minute commutes

Sustainability factors: the innovative design eliminated traffic signals, a groundwater recharge system, emissions diminished because there was no longer backup of traffic, not to mention conservation of land.

Iowa Speedway, Newton, Iowa.  Paxton Waters Architecture designs racetracks around the world that are competitive for drivers. Rusty Wallis, former NASCAR driver, racing consultant, commentator was design consultant on the project.

“I want to feel the racetrack and I want to feel it in my gut when I go around the turn – that’s how I know it’s a successful track,” said Wallis.

The design was started in 2004 before the company had Civil 3D, and it was under construction when they decided to do it in Civil 3D to create a 3D model of the track because it was valuable for managing the information.

Most racetracks are designed flat, said Lashenik, and they tilted their track .2% so they could save tens of millions of dollars on earthwork. “It runs faster and the drivers know that, we probably wouldn’t do that again.”

Rusty Wallis loved the track and the project brought NASCAR to Iowa.

Quote for the day

April 3rd, 2011 by Susan Smith

“Part of the ambition of Pachube is we’re coming to a situation where our environments will be extremely connected, we impinge upon each other, not just physically but digitally. This has a cultural aspect to it, but by providing a mechanism where you can decide to opt in, you don’t have to share all your data. But if there is a way to share your data, you can create something more valuable for the community as awhole.” – Usman Haque of Haque Studio and CEO and founder of Pachube, a YouTube like product that allows you to “store, share & discover realtime sensor, energy and environment data from objects, devices and buildings around the world” in a keynote at sg2011.

sg2011 Day 5 talks focus on data

April 1st, 2011 by Susan Smith

What was essentially Day Five at the SmartGeometry Conference in Copenhagen (sg2011) was called talkshop, a day-long series of panel discussions that focused on data – with topics such as: data by design, form follows data, performative data, the data promise.

To kick off the day, Shane Burger, associate and head of the Computational Design Unit at Grimshaw Architects, defined the 9-year-old SmartGeometry group as “a world wide community that believe that through digital tools they can make design process better and through that, can make better architecture and design.”

Founders Lars Hesselgren, High Whitehead, and Jay Parrish spoke about the beginnings of SmartGeometry:

“I sent email to the other guys about going forward using CAD,” said Hesselgren.

“I recollect there were a few who could do parametrics,” said Whitehead.

 “We thought the problems were technological, but the way around the problem was more through sociology, and the reasson why sg continues to flourish is it is a social experiment,” said Parrish.

“We  intended consequences and some happened, and unintended consequences also,” said Hesselgren. “Then there are those things that we absolutely had no idea were going to happen – the “unintended unintended.”

In September, sg organizers put out an email to the community  asking for what a challenge would be and that becomes the overall theme of the conference. What is new, and where are the new boundaries – essentially  what they should make sg about this year.

 The conference comprises 10 clusters with 10 participants each, plus champions that set the brief of the cluster. “We had about 50 applications from people who wanted to run a cluster,” said Burger. “Last year there were only 15.” There is open registration, and you have to actually apply, only get the best people in. “We try to keep it small — to 110 people– but we are convinced that we have the best people in the world to run workshops. And who participate.”

 He added that what people talk about in this conference happened just last night or this morning, unlike other conferences.

Kyle Steinfeld, UC Berkeley, and Nick Novelli, CASE Rensselaer said that for the past four days the group had been exploring ability for designing literal data creation from the ground up to see if that makes the process more transparent and more robust.

 “Not just architects manipulate data, everyone does,” said Steinfeld.


  • Data accessibility
  • Data resolution
  • Data agency

SmartGeometry Workshop tour

March 31st, 2011 by Susan Smith

At the SmartGeometry Conference in Copenhagen, last night the press were treated to an informal tour of the SmartGeometry Workshop, at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture, CITA/Centre for Information Technology and Architecture.

The projects were impressive and really push the boundaries of what is architecture. Some quick examples:

Cyber Gardens is a robotic arm model with sensors embedded that will read biological behavior of a city. This project envisions a gigantic cybercity of the future in which bacteria such as algae will be self growing in the arm shaped structure, and may provide shade and produce energy and oxygen. The bacteria will need more or less nutrients that can be sprayed on the model. It is not something that is just built and forgotten; the user will remain an active participant in the sustainable ecology of the gardens.

Another project, Reflecting Environments, dealt with energy sources as well, where people will receive their energy sources through heat based tracking cameras that are boxes on the ground.

One project involved fabric embedded with sensors draped over metal skeletons, using fabric in walls that would then sense temperature, environment and other needs of the occupants of a building.

sg2011 conference (SmartGeometry) comes to Copenhagen

March 30th, 2011 by Susan Smith

I am here in Copenhagen for the annual SmartGeometry Conference, sg2011, hosted by Bentley Systems, from March 28-April 2.

The event will come in three parts, a Workshop (28th-31st March), a public Talkshop (1 April), and a public Symposium and Reception (2 April).

Speakers include: Ben van Berkel (UN Studio), Usman Haque (Haque Design + Research), Billie Faircloth (KieranTimberlake), Craig Schwitter (Buro Happold + Adaptive Building Initiative), Lisa Amini (IBM Smarter Cities Lab), and Mette Ramsgaard Thomsen (CITA)

I have also covered GenerativeComponents, the technology that actually spawned the SmartGeometry Conference in a recent issue of AECWeekly:

Look for conference updates in the coming days.

Kenesto: 30 day trial
Bentley: - Countless CAD add-ons, plug-ins and more.

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