Post Parametric 2: Demo / Futures of Computing and Design

As parametric modeling software and parametric thinking become fully integrated into architectural design, the next phase of digital innovation will come from entirely new techniques and technologies.

Cloud computing, directable simulation, self-modeling buildings, and personal supercomputing will suggest new ways to think and to design. In this panel, experts from research and industry will demo and discuss these innovations, exploring how we might be designing architecture ten years from now.

Post Parametric 2 is the second in a series of events that aim to question, broaden, and re-frame the way we think about computing and design.


Jonathan Cohen (Senior Research Scientist, NVIDIA)
Eitan Grinspun (Director of Computer Graphics Group and Associate Professor of Computer Science, Columbia University)
Hod Lipson (Associate Professor of Mechanical/Aerospace Engineering and Computing and Information Science, Cornell University)
Miko Matsumura (VP and Chief Strategist, Software AG)
Makai Smith (Product Manager, GenerativeComponents, Bentley Systems)
Moderated by David Benjamin (GSAPP and The Living) and Michael Reed (Columbia Computer Science and Blue Sky Studios)

Debate is this Monday, April 12, at 6:30pm in Avery Hall, Wood Auditorium, GSAPP, .

Cite: "Post Parametric 2: Demo / Futures of Computing and Design" 10 Apr 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <>
  • ryan

    “self modeling buildings” i mean, are we just trying to destroy the profession?

    i love parametric design, but it has definitely disconnected that architects hand from his head to some degree. i’m afraid of what else will happen.

    software should be about better buildings, not easier ones. better aesthetics, not easier ones.

    waiting for a string of angry responses to this.

    • lee

      i agree,
      architects should care about the effects of what they place in to the built environment. Parametic design is taking us back to the positivist approach RIBA bummed mid 70′s,the whole danger of this is architects can diminish most of their responsibility; and place it on the ‘institution’ or ‘science’, sniffs abit of the people’s opium to me.

    • Case

      I believe they are talking about self-modelling buildings in regards to using point clouds from lidar scanners. We can someday get *existing* buildings into our bim model without having to translate the scan manually.

      And in response to your second comment, I believe only weak architects will use parametric modelling as a crutch for “easy” design. I, myself find it quite liberating to be able to design what I want without the interpretation of a drafter. Once I get my ideas into a model, it is what it is – then there’s just detailing.

      And by the way, I never just use one tool for design. It would be foolish to only use napkin sketches to design a building, just as it would be foolish to only use Revit. Good ideas come from looking at something from many points of view.

  • Daniel

    Ryan, I agree. I’m still in graduate school right now but in the academic environment we are having a very similar shift right now. We now have access to new digital tools (Rhino, Digital Project etc) and physical peripheries (Laser cutter, CNC Router) and we are see the designs in the school changing. There is now a divide (much like in the professional world)… there are projects that are designed with the tool or rather by the tool which end up being human-less and more fantastical, screaming “look at me” and have seem to have lost something integral, and then there are projects where it looks as if the parametric/digital tool was used thoughtfully and with controlled intent.

    The profession has gotten a new paint brush and now are dipping it in everything and it’s becoming a mess. Though some firms have realized where and when to use that brush and have been generating some amazing work that is moving the profession in a GOOD direction.

    We will see what unfolds over the next 10 years.

  • Niels

    I think you are absolutely right Ryan, and your worries are completely justified. Yet, I think there are some issues which need to be clarified (I think).

    First of all the composition of this event’s wokgroup tends to focus on graphical representation of computerized architecture and less on the parametric aspect. That worries me. Parametrics are often categorized in the field of dreamy architecture, never to be built, parallel with impressive visualizations which often add up to the dreamy aspect. Parametrics should be about more than that, in the first place they should assist us – the architects – in the design process of geometrically complex architectural objects, taking away the possibility for human error. Moreover they introduce a whole new formal language, evolving from sharp-edged modernism to a formal language that is directly derived from nature.

    Secondly, God forbid that one day we will gave to deal with computer generated architecture. I, as architect and with a degree in computer sciences, am convinced this will never be the case (even though it is technically possible) and am afraid thes visions are the result of a modernistic approach in architecture education, in which the computer is seen as only a tool to draw your plans. Digital architecture is much more than that, it’s more than Autocad, ParaCloud, GenerativeComponents, Grasshopper and all these other tools. Digital architecture is the very active discipline in which the field of architecture is being researched and one investigates how digital tools and expertise can be of extra value when it comes to spatial comfort, durability, energy efficiency, … Architecture has evolved to a design science, 50% design, 50% science. The computer is an invaluable tool when it comes to te research.

    Please, do explore the fields of responsive architecture, interactive facades, robotics, interactive environments, … and immediately see the importance of this kind of research and the connection with science. So, angry response? I hope it does not sound that way. I hope I may have introduced a new insight into parametrics and the other possibilities of digital architecture. I am currently working on a thesis in this subject, and continue to be amazed every single day. I hope ArchDaily would also spend some more attention to these emerging disciplines with the same healthy scepticism as always, that is an absolute necessity.

  • Pablo Kobayashi

    RT @HDA_Paris: RT @archdaily: Post #Parametric 2: Demo / Futures of Computing and #Design #architecture

  • j

    i think parametric design has alot to offer in terms of new ideas / thoughts in design. any one that understands architecture should know that architecture will not be taken over by technology.

    • lee

      i don’t understand architecture but parametrics do not think they compute, they are efficient; therein lies an awkward relationship between parametrics, capitalism and the construction of architecture.

      it leaves no room for anything other than logic, which i would humbaly consider dangerous; and a methodology with which it is extremely hard (nearly impossible) to critically position architecture.

  • Andrea Graziano

    Post Parametric 2: Demo / Futures of Computing and Design

  • Ar.Ca 3

    RT @digitag: Post Parametric 2: Demo / Futures of Computing and Design

  • Alessio Erioli

    RT @digitag: Post Parametric 2: Demo / Futures of Computing and Design

  • robert

    to discuss solutions with you comp. rather than your partners…hmm…pas! from multiple reasons..

  • Sam Ng

    RT @Digitag: Post Parametric 2: Demo / Futures of Computing and Design

  • Daniela Ghertovici

    RT @digitag: Post Parametric 2: Demo / Futures of Computing and Design

  • Dave Frazee

    Where’s Kostas Terzidis on all this? I would love to see him in the mix.

  • Ming Tang

    RT @Digitag: Post Parametric 2: Demo / Futures of Computing and Design

  • Michael Reed

    Ryan, Case, Lee, Daniel, Neils:

    I think that your views are accurately reflected by the purpose of this series. The title is Post-Parametric, and not without awareness of the power of “parametric” as a buzzword.

    Please do come, and speak your mind. If you can’t make it, I’ll try to make our opening comments available to you.

    Best regards,