Author Archives: Nora Begin

Niehoff Project Description

The HoneyDome is a cloud device that is hung from the ceiling to absorb and control the bouncing of sound around a room.  The design is comprised of hexagons used in a honeycomb pattern.  Domes of various sizes have been inserted into each hexagon as a means of increasing the surface area of the cloud.  As the surface area increases the opportunity of the piece to absorb sound also increases.  The hexagons were then put into Rhino and used to populate a curve, which again increased the surface area of the cloud.  Because of its porous characteristics felt was chosen as the material to line the interior of the domes.  The porous nature of the felt allows for more absorption of sound.  The hexagon pieces are made of cardboard which is ideal because of its lightweight and cost effective qualities.  Each row of the cloud is bolted together with lighter weight plastic bolts and then hung separately from the ceiling.  This allows for the cloud to appear as one entity when hung without becoming unstable and falling apart.  When hung in the Niehoff Studio the HoneyDome will help reduce the bouncing of sound and create a space in which critiques and small group discussions can be more productive.  As the excess sound is absorbed the echo effect that currently exists will stop and you will be able to hear the conversations of those around you while the conversations of other groups will be silenced.

Lydia Witte

Katie Honneywell

Emmey Jensen

Nora Begin

Fluid Dynamics Group Paper

Computer fluid dynamics is the use of a computer to calculate a fluid’s interaction with surfaces.  It can be used in many fields including automobile and aircraft design, weather science, civil engineering and oceanography.  Fluid dynamics can be used to simulate many interactions including heat transfer, distributed resistances, surface tension effects, and electromagnetic.  The use of computer fluid dynamics that is most applicable to architecture is the simulation of wind.

Wind design in high rises and skyscrapers is particularly important. (Irwin) Designer can utilize strategies to reduce vortexes and wind load by softening building corners, tapering building form, varying cross-sections to interrupt wind build up, and creating spoilers and porosity. (Irwin) In architectural profession, Shanghai Tower in Shanghai, China designed by Gensler and Pearl River Tower in Guangzhou, China designed by SOM had both utilized computer fluid dynamic simulation to optimize building performance to reduce wind load on building façade (Pham) and to use building form to create wind energy generation with in building. (SOM)

AutoDesk Project Falcon is a standalone and plug in tool for wind tunnel simulation. (Autodesk Labs) With the ability to import OBJ, STL and other file formats, designers can test aerodynamics of the building façade, interior airflow, and mechanical performances such as air movement, pressure and velocity, in views of sections across 3 dimensions. (Autodesk Labs) AutoDesk Project Falcon has the ability to visualize continuous air movement surround a space or within a space 3 dimensionally. (Autodesk Labs) AutoDesk Project Falcon is compatible with AutoDesk 360 with its easy to use and portable device oriented navigation menu. (Autodesk Labs) AutoDesk Project Falcon could be used a post design analysis tool as well as building form optimization design tool.

One simple way to test and explore a forms’ interaction with wind in Maya is to use particles.  To do this you must first import the polygon you wish to test into your Maya file.  Once the polygon is imported a particle field must be created and placed.  Then a force must be created to animate the previously created particles.  There are many choices of forces to pick from.  You can test different forces and combination of forces to find the one that animates the particles in the fashion that you’re looking for.  Next you have to set the particles to collide with your polygon.  Finally you can play the simulation and see how your air particles collide and interact with your building.  Ming Tang wrote a script that is posted on his website ( which will allow you to trace the paths of the particles as they interact with your polygon building.  This allows you to better visualize the path of the air particles and make changes to your form influenced by the air’s interaction with the building.  Then you could test your new form and make changes based on these findings until you have an ideal aerodynamic form.

A more complicated technique a designer could explore is to use smoke and fluid simulation as a form generator in Maya.  This technique is a little more in depth but can produce more interesting information.  The first thing you have to do is to create a 3D Container with Emitter, and place polygon objects as design constrain factors.  These polygon objects could represent a cluster of buildings that you want to test.  Second you must move the Emitter to the center or the base of the designer’s conceptual mass to generate smoke and to collide this smoke with the polygon objects. As a designer begins to animate a scene in Maya, smoke and fluid begin to generate form dynamically. Thirdly, is to convert smoke and fluid into polygon and to use Maya MEL script “super extrude” written by Professor Ming Tang on “”. (Tang) By varying “height” and “scale” of the extrusion in addition of animation, the designer can visualize structural frame and façade surfaces evolve using fluid and smoke as a form generator.

Overall Maya can create helpful way of visualizing air movement information but it is not as technical as programs like Project Falcon and Vasari.  This doesn’t mean that Maya can’t be used to test wind simulation on a form, but it should be used in a more conceptual manner.  Project Falcon and Vasari can give you more concrete information in contrast to the more image-based information produced in Maya.  Vasari and Project Falcon can be better for testing a previously conceived design while Maya may be more helpful in the design concept to help solidify a form for the building.  Either way the use of fluid dynamics can have a positive impact on the quality of design of modern skyscrapers.


Autodesk Labs. “Project Falcon”. 2013 3/27/2013.

Irwin, Peter. “Wind Issues in the Design of Tall Buildings”. Los Angeles Tall Building Structural Design Council. 2010. 3/27/2013.  

Pham, Diane. “INTERVIEW: Gensler’s Chris Chan on the Sustainable Shanghai Tower, Asia’s Tallest Skyscraper”. Inhabitat. 2012. 3/27/2013.

SOM. “Pearl River Tower”.  SOM. 2013. 3/27/2013.

Tang, Ming. Tang & Yang Architects. Maya MEL. 2013. 4/14/2013.

Links to individual papers:

Ken Ko

Nora Begin

Fluid Dynamics Individual Paper

Fluid Dynamics

Fluid Dynamics is an area of study with many possibilities in the application.  The most architectural application is in the study of wind movement around a building.  There are a slew of programs and means to study wind movement in relation to a building.  I chose to work within Maya using particles.

I started by creating a basic rectangular vertical shape to be my skyscraper.  Once I had created that I created a perpendicular plane of particles to interact with my building.  Then I needed to create a force to animate the plane of particles.  At first I used an air force to blow the particles towards the skyscraper.  The particles did become animated and move towards the building, but they would get stuck behind the structure and were unable to move around the edges.  Then I tried a Newton force to attract the particles to the opposite side of the building.  This solved the problem of getting the particles to move around the edges but the effect it created seemed unrealistic.  I tried a combination of these forces but the particles just seemed to get confused and move in many directions.  Finally I used the air force but instead of using it to blow the particles I used it to suck the particles towards the opposite side of the skyscraper.  This seems to have the best effect, but I still think it is a little unrealistic and could use a bit more experimentation.

Once I figured out which force to use and how to use it, I started tracing the particles.  I used Ming’s MEL script to trace the path of the particles as they moved around the skyscraper.  This gave me a chance to really see how the particles were navigating around the building.

I then made a new tower which had extrusions on the sides to break up the rectangular form.  I wanted to compare how the particles moved around this form to how they moved around the strictly rectangular form.  What I found was that the skyscraper with the extruded sides broke up the plane of particles more, sending them in many directions as they moved around the edge of the tower.  In the purely rectangular form the particles did not move much vertically as they rounded the sides of the tower.  This meant that the particles stayed concentrated upon reaching the opposite side of the skyscraper.

I think there is a lot of potential using fluid dynamics to influence the form of a tall building like a skyscraper.  There is a lot of information to be gained by using particles to evaluate the wind movement around a building.  The information that you learn simulating wind with particles could then be used to tweak the form of your building to minimize the creation of wind tunnels or minimize the wind load on the building.  Once you play around with this tool and understand how to use it I think it could be very useful and informative in the design process of tall buildings.

Fluid Dynamics Presentation

Nora Begin

Ken Ko

Final Board

final board

Lydia Witte

Emmy Jensen

Katie Honneywell

Nora Begin

Schematic Design

Lydia Witte

Emmy Jensen

Katie Honeywell

Nora Begin

P1_Nora Begin_02

This project, entitled Flux, is an architectural installation designed by students and faculty of the California College of the Arts.  The students used the most recent technologies to produce a piece that represents the complex and variant ways we can now view space.

The space is created using a six sided shape which is then expanded, contracted and twisted to form an ever changing and morphing piece.  Each rib of the tunnel is altered slightly from the last rib using parametric technologies.  The skin of the piece was also designed using parametrics to morph a similar shape and create an interesting pattern.

I think this project could serve as an inspiration for our project by showing how interesting 3D forms can be achieved and produced using parametrics.  The idea of using one simple shape to achieve something which looks so complex is a concept which I think could easily be related to our next project.  You can achieve the complexity by starting out in a simple straight forward way.  The layering which is used in this project also adds a lot of depth to this installation, and I think it is another idea to continue on with.  Once you layer simple patterns on top of one another they become complex.