Parametric Design Assistance at another NYC Firm


Last month I got a call from a lovely NYC firm where (earlier this year) I had taught BIM workflows. “I’m interested in the Parametric Design course you teach at NYIT…”

Within an exchange or two, we had signed an agreement for me to teach-and-support Rhino & Grasshopper workflows at the firm — before drafting a schedule of classes, scope of work, or even securing the site licenses for the software.

This is unusual for any organizations’ big purchases. This is also unusual for most working (service-client) relationships. But, I think this says something exciting about the state of design these days.

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During my MacDowell Colony Fellowship, I began to design a series of houses that used parametric design techniques to provide a contemporary interpretation of John Ruskin’s aesthetic theories. The five houses I designed there are the “Ruskin Houses” R-01, R-02, R-03… and so on.

This summer, I explored ideas for R-25 through R-34. R-26 used SIPs. R-30 featured a CNC-ed structure. Pictured are explorations for the structural system for R-34, which will have integral attachments for the morphing cladding system.

If all goes according to plan, one of these will get built next summer…

Big Ideas.


In several public presentations, Philosopher Daniel Dennett has offered his own description of a path to happiness. He advises to “Find something more important than you are and dedicate your life to it.”

Lewis Hyde sketches similar path to happiness in his book The Gift. He notes how artists are awakened by the work of a master, and how that awakening compels artists to labor at a discipline until they can contribute something that perpetuates the work into other hearts.

Happiness sounds like hard work.

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Starting at Selldorf Architects

Starting at Selldorf Architects

I start this week in collaboration with a collection of architects at Annabelle Selldorf’s firm. These folks take a lot of pride in their construction document sets. I am already certain that they are going to push hard for a higher standard of graphic performance from their technology. Looking forward to it.

Teaching Architecture with Virtual Reality Tools

One day, I look forward to teaching an architecture studio that won’t look at all like today’s coursework. This studio of the not-to-distant future will see each student bring their own Virtual Reality (VR) glasses, and homework will have them use Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) techniques to explore their ideas. There will just be a lot more looking around.

Desks will still be messy. Students will still have to make physical models in this studio. Gravity is a unforgiving collaborator. Materials create their own dialogues. Connections are the soul of creative expression.

It turns out that this hopeful day is going to be foreshadowed this semester! Indeed, I’m getting a taste of it next week!

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Proposing VR classes for Architecture Students

VR Course Proposal

I’ve spent a few days composing a proposal for a VR-for-architects class at NYIT. I just sent the proposal to the Associate Dean, and I don’t know what part I’m more excited about. The course textbook is Robin Evan’s wonderful project, The Projective Cast. Just talking about those chapters for 16 weeks is interesting enought. But the course only needs a few thousand dollars of equipment to run – that makes me hopeful that we really have a chance to do something unique at our institute.

Here’ the big parts. There isn’t a sentence in the sample that doesn’t sound so cool that I would want to take the course myself!

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Midterm Illumination

Parametric Midterms 15Our Survey of Parametric Design Tool for Architects midterm assignments are the design and construction of lampshades.

(Can you see how the last two assignments about domes are imbedded in the midterms?)

My office is a wonderful place to sit these days. Not only are the midterms whimsical and fun, but they draw the curiosity of folks in the department. And we can keep the bland overhaed lights off, too.

The curator of Gallery 61 wants to build an exhibition next year that includes these pieces. More news when things get decided…