Two friends of mine, Jarrett Boor and Daniel Yao of Boor+Yao, asked me, along with two new friends, to sit on the review panel for the Visualization III class they teach at NYIT.

At the midterm, the students were asked to study and diagram a physical set of information acting on an existing structure in New York City. From there, they tested that data set against a series of modules to study how different operations/ manipulations (folding, bending, aperture, opacity, ect.) could influence the diagram. The result was extensive catalog of results, a parametric system, that they could use to inform their design decisions in form making. Their final presentations were a test of those forms against the system of information they had collected and ultimately their ability to render it.

I really enjoyed participating in the panel.  It was great to see how technology is now being taught to students not only as a tool (AutoCAD was an elective when I was in college) for representation but for design justification as well.  It got me thinking a lot about the use of the same methodology in a more traditional architecture office.

(me thinking)

Unfortunately a lot of practicing architects don’t take the potential of parametric design seriously, often laughing it of as a kind of un-buildable, inordinately expensive style of design only suited for paper architecture. But there in lies the problem, it’s not a style. There is a very fragmented, ‘alien’ aesthetic that people associate with designing parametrically, but that is often just a function of the progressive nature of the designers who have embraced the technology. There is a very real world potential to make the things that we make better, better environments for those who inhabit them and buildings that are more responsive to the environment that they inhabit. Ultimately leading to structures that are more sustainable than those built on a system of LEED points will ever be.

What do you think? Is ‘parametricism’ just another architectural theoretical bingo word, or do you think there is real world application?

Photos courtesy of Daniel Yao


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