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Archive for April, 2011

Quote for the day

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

“Invisible infrastructure is the most radical change.”

— Steven Spielberg

sg2011 – Day Six investigates structural behavior, design for data and more

Friday, April 8th, 2011

SmartGeometry held in Copenhagen was all about architectural research. The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts School of Architecture brochure states that one of the most important purposes of architectural research is to “develop new models for the way we build and design the world in a time characterized by new technological possibilities and great challenges.”

Day Six of SmartGeometry (sg2011) in Copenhagen kicked off with a talk by Mette Ramsgaard Thomsen, professor and head of CITA, on the topic “Materializing the Invisible.”

She said they have built a series of speculative models in textile design, where they made iterative models over and over again, so they can return to one single description to bring together as one soft shell construction.

They learned two things from doing this: the unfolding of the complex surface is very complicated to do with the computer but extremely easy to do with your hands, “the simplicity is immediate to me,” she said. “The relationship between the digital and craft is not necessarily immediate. The drawing changes in its role; rather than thinking of drawing as a section cut, it becomes a section, the detailing and creases are inscribed, it’s the way the material is given its performance.”

The parallel project for this is “It’s a Small World,” which is an exhibition they were asked to create to show something all the way down to small design. This is about how to organize models and they used fractal order to achieve it.

“Our interest became how we could organize different elements, trying to develop a model that performs. Using GenerativeComponents, we developed a parametric design environment that could take us from design process all the way through to fabrication,” said Thomsen.

It’s A Small World created an economy that really isn’t present in research. They implemented non-traditional design practices to make new use of old materials. These surfaces were highly inhabited. “Therefore there was a rift between systematic thinking of these structures and the design intent of the curators. We had to adjust the way we were working with these structures,” Thomsen explained.

Another research project, DevA, investigated the structural behavior of bent steel sheet and how it be used in architectural design.

In contrast, Lisa Amini, director, Smarter Cities Technology Centre, IBM Research, Worldwide Smarter Cities Program talked about her program which she is building from the ground up. She quoted Steven Spielberg: “Invisible infrastructure is the most radical change.”

“The economies of scale are in cities,” said Amini. “We believe this is where people will live.” It is therefore prudent to design for data, and have your designs be influenced so they can collect data, to be able adapt to missions and the environment.

She sees a “Citizen centric vision” where citizens use mobile devices to collect data and will become very active data producers.

Ben Van Berkel, founder of Unstudio, talked about how the architect can rethink his position. His organization is a specialist organization that specializes with specialists around it. He spoke about the Mercedes Benz Museum 2001 for which there was a short time to design and build it. Used on this project was an animation technique could make 300 changes within the 3D model so people could stay working on the development of the model, and everyone updated the same day. So the need for compactness made it possible for those involved in the project to rethink the project.

Autodesk AEC Media Day 2011 – Day Two

Friday, April 8th, 2011

At Autodesk’s AEC Media Day 2011 held in Waltham, Mass. the past two days, the opening discussion revolved around the various Design Suites which now encompass Autodesk products. According to Jay Bhatt, senior vice president, AEC Solutions, suites are a simplified way for customers to absorb their technologies. What the Suites are now: plant, building and infrastructure, and are sold in standard, premium and ultimate packages. Suites promise customers:

  • Reduced cost
  • Improving compatibility
  • Ability to update (e.g patches and service packs) apps all at once
  • Streamlines license management

What customers are asking for:

  • Flexibility to innovate
  • Economical and convenient
  • Comprehensive and sophisticated

All the Revit products – Revit Architecture, Revit MEP, and Revit Structure are being sold in the same suite now. The reason is that there may be a need to explore some of the other Revit tools even if you mainly are an architect, MEP, or structural engineer.  According to Autodesk, Revit is being used for concept design now.

BIM is expanding into water and wastewater and storm systems, management and routing, and analysis tools are built into that portfolio.

There were lots of figures tossed out at the event, mainly to illustrate the dire need for spending on infrastructure.

This AEC day really felt like there was so much information, it kept whizzing by as executives worked hard to get their message across. There was the feeling that they had lived with the reality of some of these thoughts and technologies for some time. It was unclear at many points in the presentations whether products discussed were currently available, available only on Autodesk Labs or were in the “technology” category which means they haven’t become a product yet. Upon further investigation, Project Neon is a cloud technology on Labs, some new structural technology shown is in the “technology” phase, and Dasher is in the pilot phase and not on Labs.

Topics included the need to get concept energy and analysis data into existing building, and doing 3D laser scans of buildings to get accurate data of  existing conditions.

I thought it was curious to have Inventor inside the the Building Suite, aimed at construction professionals, when Inventor is what we all know of as an MCAD product. The reasoning is that contractors want to do their own prefabrication of bolts and small parts – not necessarily fabricating entire sections of wall or things of that nature.

BIM 360 is a new tool (not sure if it’s available yet) “to provide AEC project teams with a view of their project whereever they are.” The entire AEC collaboration data solution includes BIM 360, Vault, and Buzzsaw.

Navisworks is where the BIM model comes together, and enables people to look at the whole project – create walkthroughs, analysis,  construction, simulation model viewing, clash detection and 4D scheduling.


AEC Media Day 2011 – Day One

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

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

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

“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.

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