Kerenza Harris is the director of design technology at Morphosis, where she works across the firm to integrate advanced computational techniques and high-tech simulations throughout the design process. Ahead of her presentation on system-based design processes and extended reality at TECH+ in Los Angeles next week, AN caught up with Harris to get her takes on prototyping, parametricism, virtual reality, and more. On going from the screen, to prototype, to facade: Kerenza Harris: We work in a highly iterative process. We go over a form or design element again and again and again, almost on a loop, and we're trying to use the new forms in reference to other models and they're linked parametrically, meaning that there's a knowledge from the shape itself of what it is, where it is, and what its role is playing. For example, when we created those modules (those little white forms, or “pillows,” as we call them) for the facade of the Kolon One & Only Tower in Seoul, South Korea, we had to start with the results of the study of light, views. and solar exposure. So the pillows are instantiated in a digital model, as a T-shaped object informed by the performance requirements of these three factors, and then this three-dimensional thing must also have a thickness, so we have to take into account structural demands as well, which we were able to achieve with a monocoque system. But the key thing is that, from the moment of inception, this piece will continue to exist and evolve throughout the project. We're trying to avoid erasing or redoing anything—instead, we're creating a smart element that has an identity and certain characteristics and which will continue to develop throughout the project. This intelligence will influence how the piece modulates itself, when we start inputting certain performance requirements or material characteristics. So it moves forward throughout the project; it's part of a process of loops that also includes hand sketching, 2D drawing, simulation, analysis, 3D printing, and digital model making. In the case of the Kolon project, we created a physical, full-size prototype of the facade element. What we were trying to accomplish had never been done in our desired material before, in fiberglass. We had to find a fabricator, get into a relationship with that fabricator, find out how they fabricate the thing in the first place, learn the properties of the materials, composite mix, and so on. We got involved and we built a one-to-one version of this thing. On how a systems-focused approach can shape how architects work: Instead of thinking about design as the creation of separate components—such as rooms, doors, facade pieces, toilets and windows, and so forth, we're taking a step back, and trying to understand projects in terms of organizational systems and workflows. Each of these systems has a behavior and a certain way that they interact with each other. Understanding components in terms of broader systems, we can globalize a workflow—for example, creating rules for certain systems or object classes, instead of applying meaning to individuals elements, in a sense. Once you establish the system, the pieces are very powerful, and they work on a local scale or a global scale. They can work on urban master plan design or they can work in the design of a chair. It's really efficient, but also a little tricky because it introduces order but then at the same time may produce disorder you wouldn’t otherwise encounter dealing with objects individually. Things may emerge from these systems that were unanticipated. When you push the number of systems or components to the maximum, and their interaction becomes more and more complex, you may find yourself with new, emergent conditions that you were not planning or designing for. And that's actually what we're looking for, what we’re really interested in: something akin to the unexpected conditions of a city that’s developed over a long period of time. On virtual reality: Four years ago we were commissioned to transform a suite of hotel rooms at the Therme Vals resort in Switzerland. The existing rooms were very small, but within each we wanted to fit a freestanding, curved glass shower as a kind of light sculpture in the center. But we were struggling with the models for this project. It was quite difficult, from the digital model and scaled 3D-printed studies, to really assess the height of the table and certain things and how they would be used and navigated by guests, especially because it was all custom-made furniture, custom-made spaces in a very tight area. And so we built a movie set, almost. We used foam core, and someone went in and actually modeled one-to-one the hotel room using tape and glue so that we could actually stand in the space. It was alright, for a project of that scale—but I immediately thought, "Okay, we need to find another way because this doesn't quite work." We needed a way of inhabiting our spaces during design that would be easier, faster, more integrated with our workflow. So I got interested in VR. The headsets on the market were still clunky then. But we purchased one for the office to try it out, and it immediately made a difference. That development coincided with the beginning of the new Orange County Museum of Art design. In addition to having the typical concerns of an art museum regarding sight-lines and lighting, the building has complex geometry and a big atrium skylight above the entrance. The broader team and project stakeholders were struggling sometimes to understand how the spaces worked because it was hard to experience from the plan or computer screen. And the renderings were strong, but they still couldn’t really capture the feeling of it. We started putting people in there in VR. We put the designers in, too. VR just gives you a completely different perspective on the work that you do. And it's also the first time that you can see your project at a one-to-one scale without spending millions of dollars to actually build it. And we’re getting to the point where this immersion can be immediately accessed. Now, in the Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE / CATIA parametric software that we use, you can just go in the model with your headset, in real-time. With this platform, you don’t need to render it or use any other software. I have a feeling this will be the next real game-changer for the industry. For more on the latest in AEC technology and for information about the upcoming TECH+ conference, visit https://techplusexpo.com/events/la/
Posts tagged with "CATIA":
HOK’s ARTIC, Anaheim's high speed rail train station which AN featured today, is as much a story about technology and engineering as it is about high design. Slated to achieve a LEED Platinum rating, ARTIC is the product of an integrated, multidisciplinary BIM design process where key decisions about technology and engineering were brought into the design process from the beginning to achieve a high-tech, high-performance, and high-efficiency building. The building’s curved diagrid geometry, rationalized using CATIA, is like a contemporary reboot of the glass and steel structures that defined iconic terminals like Philadelphia’s Broad Street Station and New York City’s original Penn Station. The parabolic shell design was also utilized for its structural efficiency and for its environmental properties. For efficiency, the design team decided to go with ultra-lightweight ETFE pillows (1/100th the weight of glass). This allowed for significant reductions in foundation size and structural member dimensions. ARTIC is currently the largest ETFE-clad building in North America, with over 200,000 square feet of the high-tech material covering most of the building’s long-span shell. The ETFE system also helps to regulate heat gain and maximize daylighting while maintaining an environment that utilizes a mixed mode natural ventilation system. The building’s shape and translucent ETFE envelope work in concert with a radiant heating and cooling slab system in the public areas (optimized HVAC is used in office and retail spaces) to produce a microclimate through convection currents. This makes it possible for the building to be naturally ventilated most of the time. Heat rises and escapes through operable louvers at the top portions of the north and south curtain walls.
“Actually, the box isn’t magic, so don’t be disappointed you didn’t get ahold of Merlin the Magician,” Eric Owen Moss said at the start of a recent interview. Moss, director of the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), was referring to the school’s new digital fabrication lab. Dubbed the Magic Box, the two-story, prefabricated steel structure will be constructed at the south end of the SCI-Arc building. But Moss didn’t want to focus on the laboratory itself, which was designed by several architects affiliated with SCI-Arc (including Moss's own firm). Instead, he said, “the game is, what’s inside is magic. It’s not so much the object, but what the object contains." The Magic Box will house state-of-the-art tools for digital prototyping and fabrication, including CNC machines and 3D printers. Together with a remade Analog Fabrication Shop and the existing Robotics Lab, the Magic Box will be a key component of the school’s new RAD (Robot House, Analog Shop, and Digital Fabrication Lab) Center. According to Moss, the Center is designed to teach students how to interrogate the technologies and materials they encounter. “SCI-Arc is not interested in producing people who can just go into an office and use digital tools,” he explained. “We’re interesting in producing students who have a critical and intellectual perspective on this.” As an example of the kind of creative discovery he expects will take place inside the Magic Box, Moss cited the school’s Robot House, the 1,000-square-foot laboratory comprising a five-robot workroom and a Simulation Lab. “Robots are usually used in [a chronological sequence], but we don’t use them that way,” Moss said. “The robots evolve: as the program changes, the robots start to do something else.” He also pointed to the history of CATIA, visualization software originally marketed to aerospace engineers but now in widespread use among architects. “A lot of these [digital] tools have been made by other characters that may have different motives,” Moss explained. “We want to make sure that the imaginative motive is introduced as part of the [architect’s] education.” In the end, Moss said, the new workspace at SCI-Arc is named the Magic Box to reflect the optimistic spirit in which it is being introduced. That storyline will begin next spring, when construction on the Magic Box starts. The 4,000-square-foot space is expected to be ready for students at the opening of the 2014-15 school year.
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Members of the Gehry Technologies New York office outline a collaboration that spanned between four U.S. cities and DubaiEditor's Note: The following has been excerpted from Knowledge Engineering: The Capture and Reuse of Design and Fabrication Intelligence on the Burj Khalifa Office Ceiling by Neil Meredith and James Kotronis of Gehry Technologies: Behind schedule and with the finish date of the building fast approaching, Gehry Technologies was presented with a unique problem. A complex, double-curved wood ceiling for one of the main entrances to the Burj Khalifa (then Burj Dubai) was under construction and it was becoming apparent that the proposed system would not work as designed. Instead of delaying the schedule or scrapping the design, an integrated team was quickly mobilized. This team was based in different design and fabrication domains, with all participants working toward the shared goals of redesign, fabrication, delivery, and installation of the new ceiling, all within a tight timeframe and construction site. Partners included Skidmore Owings and Merrill (SOM), Imperial Woodworking Company (IWA), ICON Integrated Construction and Gehry Technologies/New York (GT). Working through the design issues, the new team developed a strategy to strip the design back down to essential geometry and redesign the system from the ground up, satisfying design intent and a host of fabrication and constructability constraints through a shared parametric model. The previous system—a stick-built plank system wrapped over a series of ribs—worked within the constraints of a small physical mock-up but did not scale up properly to the required geometries for the finished ceiling. A new system was developed using a pre-fabricated unitized panel approach. Although more risky in terms of on-site adaptability, building the panels offsite in IWA’s Chicago woodshop and then shipping them to Dubai in stages gave the added benefits of quality and speed. Now not only did the panels need to arrive on-time within a very aggressive schedule, but they needed to be built perfectly, arrive undamaged through shipping, and be pre-coordinated for installation and all surrounding building elements (structural, mechanical ductwork, interior finishes, lighting, etc.). The first step in developing the drivers was mapping the physical constraints of the desired materials. The original design surface was then rationalized to maximize geometric simplicity while still meeting the design criteria and minimum bending radii of tested plank materials. With a controlling surface in place, countless iterations of planking and panelization options were then tested. From the underside of the ceiling, the surface is a continuous field of planks. The panel joints are made to disappear on the outward facing surface. Visible from the back surface, rectangular panel divisions simply follow the same divisions as the planking, picking up lines as necessary. Having a parametric rig for the development of both the planking and the paneling was key as this was not a simple linear process, but instead an iterative back-and-forth conversation between maximum panel sizes, constructability, changing planking widths, and various design options for the planking itself. Prosaic constraints such as the size of the freight elevator available on site were worked along side more design-oriented issues such as the typical width of the plank. Taking the wireframe planking curves and surfaces as inputs, a series of flexible components were designed to parametrically reconfigure themselves to adapt to various detail conditions. The first module to use this approach was the three-dimensional wood planks forming the exterior of the panel. Due to the desire for variegated veneers across the surface, individual planks with different veneers needed to be laid-up on the panels. Complicating this arrangement, many of the panels had a anticlastic surface topology, requiring individually cut and finished planks for many of the panels. Another challenge with prefabricated units was predicting the distribution of wood grain across the entire ceiling surface. In a typical plank-based design such as a floor, veneers are sorted for aesthetic criteria and then selected by craftsman to ensure the even distribution across the surface, avoiding dark and light patches or clustered areas. This ceiling was built as a unitized system of panels, fabricated offsite and out of sequence. (Due to the schedule, some panels were still being built in Chicago while the initial grouping was being installed in the UAE.) Often called veneer “randomization” the eventual solution was hardly random, but instead sorted and mapped veneers to discreet planks in an automated system. The tool also allowing for multiple mappings to occur in an iterative digital design environment, giving the craftsman a tool to visually asses the veneer placement while still allowing for a new level of control during fabrication. In the end, every veneer for the entire project was tagged and managed across the entire ceiling surface through this method. Remarkably, the entire panel fabrication was done with 2-D cutting profiles. That is not to say that the fabricator was not working in 3-D, but the understanding of 3D had more to do with assembly and fabrication of actual materials in space instead of digital models. GT produced a 3-D solid model, but the Document Template CAM outputs were completely 2D in nature. Instead of relying on robotic fabrication or multi-axis machining, a series of registration elements were output from the model for use during assembly. Looking at one piece of the assembly, the “waffle frame” is a well known and fairly easy-to-assemble construction given the prevalence of CNC fabrication, but to ensure the larger project goals such as continuity between adjacent panels, the edges of the frame were projected on to a single plane to create a “tabling” jig at 1:1 scale and CNC out of 1⁄4-inch MDF. In addition to the direct-to-fabrication cutting of the plank and frame pieces, various other jigs and templates aided panel continuity and assembly. After gathering all the pieces together in to a “master model” details were then refined and expanded in the 3-D environment with all the appropriate links to the upstream driver geometry and the downstream panel fabrication models. While representing an investment in time, effort and infrastructure, the flexibility of the system allowed for rapid update cycles late in the design process. To take one example, 3D survey data of as-built conditions was continually cross-checked against the developing fabrication model. Fairly late in the design process it was discovered that some of the steel interfacing with the boat section was not within the assumed design tolerances and needed to be updated. Instead of remodeling these parts, the input surface geometry was slightly tweaked, producing a ripple effect of changes though the design surface. These panels were simply updated to the new surface and reissued just prior to the actual panel fabrication.