Concept to Construct: Building Components and Assemblies

This research seminar will explore how various architects applied computer assisted tools and strategies in the development of design concept, building component fabrication and construction assemblies.The seminar will focus on select late 20th century examples, analyzing models of collaboration between the architects, engineers, and fabricators. We will pay particular attention to the design, technology, and management of experimental building assemblies developed with the increasing application of computer.Early attempts to utilize digital tools in the component prototype process for the mass standardization of industrial production will be compared to the traditional hand crafted approach. Case studies will analyze the impact of the digital environment on the highly iterative process of design, engineering, mock-up, prototype, and fabrication assembly, clarifying the instrumental role of the digital tools. The Prototype process employed by Konrad Wachsmann, Jean Prouve, Buckminster Fuller in the 1950s will be contrasted with the introduction of computers in the design and engineering of the Sydney Opera House by Ove Arup & Partners.Prototype strategies will be studied in works of transitional buildings such as Renzo Piano Building Workshop\’s De Menil and the Kansai Airport roof structure and cladding; the Schlumberger Research Center and the SAGA Resorts Recreation Center by Michael Hopkins and Ove Arup & Partners. More recent examples of new types of architectural elements and components produced via the use of CAD/CAM technologies include works by Frank Gehry and Associates, TriPyramid Structures, C-TEK, and Permasteelisa. These examples offer diverse approaches to collaborative design, engineering, and fabrication in the digital environment.Each student will develop and discuss a case study based on a historic or contemporary building. Key strategies and innovations will be compared and contrasted with historical precedents and the contemporary context. Each student will build a digital model of their analysis project and transform it based on the speculative development of the digital tools and systems. A hypothetical process of collaboration shall be formulated in support of the proposed modeling transformation.Pedagogic Objectives…Through the in-depth case study, each student is challenged to develop a framework of inquiry for the process of innovation. The integrated format of design, technology, and management will demand a multi-disciplinary investigation, engaging the issues translating concepts into construction. The students are encouraged to expand their research in the context of the CAD/CAE/CAM developments. Students\’ Time Commitment…In compliment to class presentation and discussions, select readings and field trips will be organized. The case study research will extend the full semester, demanding approximately 4-6 hours per week on research and discussion preparation.Basis of Final Grade…Grading based on class participation and the final research and modeling project.