Design Integration Laboratory

Computing Philosophy

The starting point of our architectural computing philosophy is that computer hardware and software, taken together, can be approached as design media, whether for design investigation or for presentation, in a way that meshes smoothly with more traditional architectural design tools.

This stands in contrast to the idea that computer tools primarily exist to manipulate information. This is a valid idea--computers are great information appliances--but it does not lead to graceful co-existence between old and new media tools. Our idea is to apply the new power tools for design first to what is most central--the architectural design process itself. The associated practical applications then follow, grouping gracefully around design as the central integrative activity.

Over the last several years, since our computing model was endorsed by a lab setup grant from Apple Computer, the "media approach" to architectural has happily become relatively common, as the academic community in architecture moves beyond "computer-aided drafting" to take "computer-aided design" more seriously.

Since architecture is fundamentally three-dimensional, we have focused on developing a suite of design tools, each simple and affordable, but powerful and versatile in combination, which has always revolved around 3D modeling as the core application area. When we formalized our Mac Studio program in 1990, Architrion on the Macintosh was our core 3D modeling tool. When Architrion got long in the tooth, we used Modelshop for a couple of terms, and then disatisfied with its level of functionality and reliability, we switched to working with the locally developed DesignWorkshop. (See also notes on Why Macintosh?)

Our core toolkit is now relatively mature, consisting of a 3D modeler, a 2D drawing/drafting program, a image processing application, and an integrated application for general computing tasks and large and small page layout. Therefore, a lot of our developmental work is now addressed to computer applications beyond studios, in diverse subject areas from structural design, to energy performance, architectural programatics, compositional analysis, and so on.

We are continously reinvesting in the benefits of the new design media on many levels, because it seems we're always finding something new right around the corner.

Kevin Matthews, Coordinator of Architectural Computing

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