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.

This firm does a lot of big residences, small institutional, and other craft-oriented building types. Their designs are skilled at featuring custom elements. What catches the eye is both an exciting form, but also one realized with care-filled craftsmanship.

Everyone at the firm had been comfortable in SketchUp, Rhino, and other CAD platforms that help visualize static representations of their design ideas. Up until last year.

The person who dialed my number was a firm-wide manager: he isn’t the guy making digital models. Instead, he told me in a few minutes how he knew the industry had shifted. He knew clients wanted more. His staff knew it too. He felt pressure from his staff to empower them to simply work smarter.

Sure: technology is always changing. But this frustration is more acute than the feelings that last generation of architects felt with CAD. Designers are seeing how sophisticated simulations are helping everyone do more design with less busy-work — or — that simulations are helping designers juggle ever more sophisticated elements in a symphony of complexity.

I got this call because the firm wanted to retain their staff. They had the distinct feeling that in a improving economy, folks were going to find these tools in-house (and stay) or elsewhere. And the manager wanted to collaborate with them.

That’s the exciting part. There’s a perpetually youthful, exploratory, experimental side to our profession. Everybody at that firm — managers and staff alike — wanted to be a part of this next exploration.

I’ll likely be starting to help adjust workflows there in November, but if it’s like my last two Parametric Design engagements, the folks I meet on Day One will probably have already downloaded the manual and have a question about the exercise on page 32.