Author Archives: Alex Bucher



Throughout the Design Visualization course we have been introduced to a great variety of technologies that may be utilized for the purposes of developing and presenting architectural projects. We have practiced modeling and form generation with several different software and from many diverse approaches. Every software we have learned contains its own unique possibilities for experimentation and exploration. Some programs, like Revit, use a somewhat rigid process for modeling where everything must be built in a certain way and conform to architectural standards. Operations in Revit are heavily grounded in reality, and projects that are developed in the program seem very realizable. On the opposite end of the spectrum are programs like Maya where modeling is almost entirely unrestricted and free-form. While Maya is not strictly an architectural program, it makes possible great depth of experimentation that can be used to inform of inspire architectural designs.
Beyond basic modeling tools and operations, we were shown an entire new world when we were introduced to the parametric possibilities within these programs. The Grasshopper plug-in for Rhino is perhaps what we spent the most time with in this respect. Through learning how to set up parametric relationships while designing and modeling, our efficiency and capabilities increased significantly. Complex forms and systems can be generated quickly, without tedious and repetitive, manual laboring. Forms can also be made to respond to a range of input whether it be a simple jpeg image that is synchronized through RGB values, or through a collection of weather data that is used to determine the size and shape of openings on the exterior skin of a building. The incorporation of this technology in the design of buildings can lead to a much more informed project in the end. It can be way of troubleshooting, or it could provide suggestions that influence the appearance of the project overall.
Of equal importance to being able to model and develop a sophisticated, responsive design is the ability to then present the design. For this reason we learned techniques for crafting visual presentations. We learned many 2D programs such as Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign, that can be used to combine multiple images with text and create an attractive layout. We also learned how to make impressive renderings of our 3D models complete with lighting, environment, and materials. The actual construction materials of the building can be visually simulated through the use of the software, and a comprehensive idea of the final product can be achieved.
At this stage too there is opportunity for exploration. Many materials and combinations of materials can be tested through this visual simulation, and some of the guess work in a design can be eliminated. The.The ability to quickly produce many versions is of great value to an architect. It is an opportunity to compare and reflect, and it is also appealing for the client to be presented with a few options to choose from. The primary goal when creating detailed renderings is to help build an impressive presentation that will clearly and thoroughly communicate the design intentions of the architect to the client. When more can be represented or simulated through powerful software, there are fewer questions about intention, less need for explanation. Time is saved, and the gap of understanding between the architect and the client is decreased.
The final technologies that we learned in the Design Visualization course were animation techniques and virtual / augmented reality software. Through the use of these techniques, a 3D digital model can be put into motion, or rather a virtual tour can be simulated. It is possible to set a camera path and fly through the building while looking around and focusing in on certain details. The movement of the sun can be animated so that cast shadows can be studied throughout the course of the day and throughout the course of the year. Animation could also be used to show how a complex assembly comes together by exploding the system and exposed all of the individual components. Animation contains great value for presenting a clear and comprehensive project. We looked at some animations created by Zaha Hadid architects for example.
Virtual / augmented reality is even one step further. This is software that can be used with an iPhone, iPad, or any other portable, smart device. It makes it possible to give a presentation on the fly, at a coffee shop, a restaurant, anywhere. There is no need for a projector screen, or a heavy physical model, and a great amount of information is made portable. Augmented reality links a digital building model with a surface in the physical world and grounds it there. The model sits as though it were resting on the table in front of you, but is visible only on the screen of the phone or tablet. The viewer can walk around the model with the device to view it from any angle, and move closer or farther away.

Through the use of the augmented reality programs, the viewer is given the power to look through the 3D model in whatever fashion is desired. They may pause where something catches their interest, and zoom in on a particular area. This is an interactive technology that allows the client to take control and explore the project for themselves. And, again, it’s very impressive and makes for a great presentation. Being impressive, and being impressive while presenting legible information are very important for a competitive architect. Being able utilize the most current and advanced software for the purposes of developing and presenting projects is essential for being a top level competitor in the modern world.

Now, having completed the Design visualization series, we have at our disposal an invaluable skill-set to employ for all of our future projects in the program and beyond. All the software we have learned are great tools for developing sophisticated designs and for creating great presentations. There is no doubt that all of this knowledge will continue to be of great value to us all.





When designing a building skin there is great opportunity to utilize sophisticated software that will assure the success of the system. Programs that analyze weather data can be used as a tool to help determine what the form of the building skin should be, where openings should be larger or smaller. It is also possible to synchronize the programs that apply weather data with those that generate the physical form. There is a parametric relationship created between the input data and the form, and if the input is changed to represent a different climate, the form will respond accordingly. In this way the process is nearly seamless, with the form responding exactly to the given data.

This was the method applied when designing for the tower project. The basic surface shapes meant to represent the exposed faces of a series of buildings were brought into Ecotect, where downloaded weather data for Cincinnati, Ohio was used to examine the forms. The buildings were oriented according to the cardinal directions, then the program could accurately depict where solar exposure would be most intense, which areas would primarily be in shade. The program could likewise be used to show wind and various other forces that may impact building design.

Once this information was collected from Ecotect, it was linked to Rhino through Grasshopper. Grasshopper can use the given weather data to determine the form of the building skin. The areas that receive the greatest amount of solar exposure would have the smallest size openings, while those areas that are shaded would be given much larger openings. The logic that was applied was perhaps the most basic, but any set of parameters could be set up to create a complex and extremely environmentally-responsive building.

It is conceivable that this exact process could be applied in a great number of ways to generate nearly every system that is used within the building. A structural system could be generated that responds directly to wind loads or seismic activity. Or, continuing with the building skin, this process could be used to design a system of insulated panels, a system where each panel contains the exact, optimal amount of insulation.

The value of this, of applying these software during the design process, is first and foremost efficiency gain. The programs perform a great amount of labor quickly, and produce an easily understandable visual suggestion for the design. By being given the ideal form immediately there is more time left for tweaking and modifying. It is important that what is first generated should be thought of as an extremely well informed suggestion, but that it does not need to be the final product or final form.

This process can generate suggestions of forms that may not have been seen through traditional methods of analysis, or that may have otherwise been much more difficult to come to. In this way design is expedited, expanded formally, enriched through multiple layers of environmental response systems, and overall benefited.





E2_Photoshop ( Late Post )