Author Archives: Priyanka Sen

PSen E5

PART A – showcase


PART B – augment

PART C – p3d


PART D – essay

The design visualization sequence has provided us with a large and varied communication skill set to present our architectural and spatial objectives. The use of diverse programs such Rhino (and it’s plug-ins Grasshopper, Weaverbird, and Lunchbox), Maya, 3DS Max, DepthMap and ArcGIS facilitate the graphic and visual ability to create a cohesive project that takes architectural design, industrial fabrication, spatial urban studies, and environmental concerns all into account for integration into multidisciplinary design.  The 2D programs (DepthMap and ArcGIS) emphasized the larger urban context of a project while 3D platforms represent different form-generating capabilities that are more conducive to architectural design. For example, Rhino has a more controlled computer design while a program like Maya represents a simple and accessible approach to free-form modeling. Each of these programs has strengths and weaknesses. Ideally, one will include both programs in their workflow on a project, both for modeling and for rendering capabilities. Additionally, many of these 3D programs also utilize parametric considerations to drive design choices. For example, Rhino and Grasshopper parametrically work together to visually represent data, whether it is a specific relationship or one created by data-driven design (like wind speed, temperature, etc).  Additionally, Maya allows unique and complex parametric relationships to be set up to allow for easy manipulation and duplication for industrial fabrication, such as the CNC milled wall panel forms. The combination of all these methodologies promote cohesive and complete design for a project, emphasizing everything from the micro level of wall and material details to the macro level of the urban and city context.


Along the lines of the 3D software programs, we also began to experiment with the concept of augmented realities and real time renderings as another visual method in presenting our renderings. Through Rhino, Maya and 3Ds Max, many different rendering techniques and styles can be extracted from each program; however, with the introduction to 3D rendering, whether through Autodesk Showcase, Augment, or p3d, these renderings become moving animations of the architectural form, usually in hopes of creating a larger city or environmental context for the building. Autodesk Showcase is a quick way of creating a digital movie of a model in a variety of environments. Unlike Maya key framing or animation from 3DS Max that requires the rendering of each animation image, Showcase allows one to create an engaging visual communication tool relatively quickly. Augmented reality is another unique way to create a “hybrid” digital and physical model, though the program seems to distort some of the imagery and it’s quality. P3d presented another digital 3D real time rendering that allowed one to easily view the model on the internet with “rendered quality.” These methods are also unique due to their close integration with technologies such as smartphones and iPads, but at the same time, provide somewhat of an inaccessibility of the software for the same reason. Though all of these are new and innovate ways to represent a digital model, it could be difficult to set up this technology during a review to share with the panel. As with all new technologies, it is always essential to know and learn about them for possible future use.


In addition to all of the computer software knowledge, this course also focused on utilizing a variety of materials and technologies for the projects. In the first semester, we used museum board to create hexagon panels and were initially exposed to the laser cutting machines and the protocol to successfully using this this technology. In the second semester, we utilized the CNC milling machine to create a wall tile panel and vacuum-formed the object to create a plastic mold of the object. This last semester, both clay and concrete were used to express vignettes of architectural forms and systems. The clay project (puzzle boxes) would be a great opportunity to work with more materials such as plaster of Paris, wood, resin, plexi-glass, and metal to explore the relationship between these materials to one another.


Many projects were not simply “architectural,” but rather, focused on the much larger issue of visual communication. For example, the cement wall tile project completed in the third course of the sequence began to challenge many of the previously completed projects employing parametric techniques. These seemingly identical wall panels, created through parametric relationships, were all converted into separate and distinct works that create a new language for both the material (concrete) and the wall. This class has not simply taught us about the different digital software and their capabilities, but it has raised many questions about the state of architectural design and practice and the connection to related fields like city planning, fabrication, materials, and visual data representation. Every exercise and project has a deeper connotation to a larger architectural concept that makes us rethink what it means to be “architectural” or “structural” or how buildings connect to a larger urban context. The skill sets acquired from this design visualization sequence provide us with the ability to create, model and present all aspects of architecture and begin to develop our own style and identity in the process. The class allowed us to experiment with different computer programs, materials, and presentation methods to fit our unique character.


This design visualization sequence feeds into many other courses that we take in our foundation first year of the M.Arch I program. The communication skill sets certainly feed into our studio projects and allow us new methods of visually/graphically creating what we need for our projects. Additionally, with the use of EcoTect, Weaverbird, and Grasshopper, these projects conjunctly work with our Environmental Technology class this summer semester, where we focus on shading, natural and electric lighting, and changing materials to account for heat gain and heat loss. These courses could potentially work very closely in order to produce great documentation of each project, both in it’s actual content and the presentation of the material. Additionally, it would be wonderful to work with other programs in DAAP such as the School of Design or the School of Art in one project, similar to the concrete tile paneling, where the School of Design plans the installation of the piece. To work closely together on a project would provide a new and exciting insight outside of SAID and allow us to continue furthering our understanding of the larger integration of architecture.

PSen P2 Concrete Panels + Storyboard

CTBUH 2014 PSen Final Board

the core of every city consists of a variety of reflections: colors, patterns, materials, and shapes all connect to deconstruct the urban fabric to momentary vignettes. these images reflect historical circumstance, changing social context, and the transforming city milieu. this project centers around a prismatic tower that reflects these impressions through the texturized skin envelope. the denser sections represent the built environment such as architecture, landscape, and bridges, while the wider openings exhibit empty urban space – in which this project resides as a symbol of the past, present, and future of the city.

though the building skin was created from the cityscape of 2014, it’s unique attribute the mirrored envelope allows the continuously morphing city to still be represented within the building design. as such, remains a constant representation of the urban environment. the central prism tower is flanked by glass crystalline structures to portray the reflection of the city on the larger complex. this imagery creates layered tensions between the existing urban fabric and the new building intervention. the 370 foot tower symbolizes the zenith point of a historical city in transition, with the sun hitting the top point of the prism and creating a cast shadowed reflection of the new frontier on the old built environment. the generated shadow hovers over the surrounding neighborhoods and functions as a large sun dial where the silhouette creates a direct connection with the adjacent urban context.

the combination of the skin and it’s projection establish a direct relationship between the historic city setting, while also engaging adjoining neighborhoods to the complex site, and creating a new building form within the city that represents the future transformation of the city.


PSen Concept Update

PSen Skyscraper

PSen E2 Clay Model

PSen New E4 MEL Scripting

PSen E4 Essay + Process

Data driven design is based on number sets that are predetermined, such as dry bulb temperature, humidity, wind speed, etc. These numbers are then inputted into a variety of programs, such as Grasshopper and it’s plugins Geco and Weaverbird, and become parametric constraints for design. For example, if one wanted to design an envelope based on wind speed analysis, this data would be allocated into Grasshopper and utilized to parametrically control the openings/closing to coincide with the data. With the MEL scripting technique in Maya, an image was taken and the RGB values were extracted from an image and utilized as conditions in creating a texture of morphed objects. It was difficult to pick an image that had enough color range to have the script effectively work. Several different images were utilized, both color and black and white, and were either Gaussian blurred or high contrast filtered in Photoshop to pull out a strong range of values for the MEL script.

These parametric techniques could either come at the very beginning of the design process to facilitate the concept or at the end when details are being sorted out. The ability to parametrically control a building based off of environmental and climatic data could greatly help in creating a sustainable building; however, a downside of parametric modeling is that some designer control can be lost due to the heavy contribution of computer design.

The Maya MEL scripting was a very interesting process to work with.  The texture script, which simply read the RGB channels or the Alpha channel of an image, worked as a basic mechanism to create a pattern based off an image. To construct a unique pattern, the morph MEL script was utilized to create a blended shape that would then texturize based on the selected image. There was a great deal of trouble shooting to get the script to properly work.

The first blended object created did not actually work with the Maya script because faces, edges and vertices had been manipulated. The “new” morphed shape did not actually transform in conjunction with the color channels because of this (as seen in the colored PDF image). To resolve this, only vertices were manipulated and the blended object worked with the texture morphing script. Additionally, one the object’s were created and renamed to match the script, error messages still popped up: 0.5 in the history box suggested that the script did not properly read the path of the image. Another error also came up when running the script with the objects it was picking. The shape that is changing is the “morph1” and the shape that is morphing is “morph” in the outliner box. As shown in the screen shot, the names in the outliner already matched with the script, but it was not reading it. Therefore, the information under the channel tab under input for “blendShape1” needed to be utilized. In the script, rather than use the morph from the outliner, pCube1 from the channel editor was needed to properly run the script and create a morphed texture based on the color channels of the image. The final texture was then brought into Rhino and applied to a surface. When the pattern was applied to a surface, it was inverted, and therefore, the entire pattern was flipped to face the exterior of the shape to become it’s new “skin.”

Data drive and performance driven design tools such as parametric modeling are very powerful in assisting the design process. They provide new and innovative ways to utilize a variety of data sets to create relationships establish patterns. These techniques should be used in conjunction with other design methodologies to enhance building technologies, environmental and climatic impact, and architectural design and innovation.

PSen E4 MEL Script

PSen Working Concept 2