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Morphosis Architects Headline AIA's 2015 Technology In Architectural Practice Innovation Awards

The AIA has announced four projects as the winners of its inaugural Technology in Architectural Practice (TAP) Innovation Awards, with Morphosis Architects' Emerson College Los Angeles taking away the headline "Stellar Architecture" award. Started in 2005, the TAP Knowledge Community has led efforts to acknowledge and disseminate the best use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) technologies, and the AIA hopes that the new TAP Innovation Award will "enliven the discourse on how these innovations can advance the profession and practice of architecture and further the mission of the Institute."

See all four awarded projects after the break.

The building and site utilize best ‘green’ practices, including capturing stormwater in the landscape. Image © Tom Holdsworth The three main massing elements (south bar, atrium and north tower) are each designed with their own structural systems and floor-to-floor heights to maximize efficiencies. Image © Alene Davis The design's canted glazing intensifies reflections of immediate environment. Image © Point B Design A grand stair provides space for social gatherings, connecting the students to Sunset Blvd below with a view of the Hollywood Sign ahead. Image © Iwan Baan

Sefaira Incorporates Customizable Graphics Into Daylight Visualization Software

Sefaira, the market-leading daylighting visualization tool, has just announced a new feature for their software plugins for Autodesk Revit and Trimble Sketchup. In addition to the real-time visualizations announced last year, the new update adds customizable, exportable graphics which offer both a point in time analysis or an annual overview, and analysis tools which help designers easily identify overlit and underlit spaces and review heating or cooling requirements.

The Computer vs The Hand In Architectural Drawing: ArchDaily Readers Respond

In the architecture world, there are a handful of persistent debates that arise time and time again: the challenges of being a woman in the field of architecture is one of them, for example; the problems of a culture of long hours and hard work is another. But one of the most enduring arguments in architecture - especially in the academic sphere - is the battle between hand drawing and computer aided design. Both schools have their famous proponents: Michael Graves, for example, was known as a huge talent with a pencil and paper, and came to the defense of drawing in articles for the New York Times, among others. Patrik Schumacher, on the other hand, is famous for his commitment to the capabilities of the computer.

To advance this heated conversation, two weeks ago we reached out to our readers to provide their thoughts on this topic in an attempt to get a broad cross-section of opinions from architects from all walks of life. Read some of the best responses after the break.

Which Architectural Software Should You Be Using?

One of the biggest decisions to make when setting out alone - either as an independent architect or starting your own firm - is which software to use. It can be tempting to simply choose an industry leader, but you may end up paying over the odds for a product which doesn't suit your style. In this post, originally published on ArchSmarter as "Which architectural software is right for me?" Michael Kilkelly works through the factors that should influence your decision, whether you're making it for the first time or reviewing a choice you made long ago. 

Which CAD or BIM software should you use? Well, that depends. What functionality to you need? What are your priorities with regard to cost, comparability, interoperability? Are you using a Mac or a PC?

What Is The Role Of Hand Drawing In Today's Architecture?

Update: We have now published our follow-up article of readers' responses - see it here.

Are Computers Bad for Architecture?

In his articles for ArchSmarter, Michael Kilkelly often praises the value of computers and automation, a sometimes controversial viewpoint with plenty of supporters on either side. In particular, his previous post on ArchDaily, "5 Reasons Architects Should Learn to Code" provoked a significant discussion. But what is the value of this automation? In this post originally published on ArchSmarter, he expands on his view of what computers can be useful for - and more importantly, what they can't.

I write a lot about digital technology and automation here on ArchSmarter, but deep down inside, I have a soft spot for all things analog. I still build physical models. I carry a Moleskine notebook with me everywhere. I also recently bought a Crosley record player.

I can listen to any kind of music I want through Spotify. The music world is literally at my finger tips. Playing records hasn’t changed what I listen to but it has changed how I listen to music. There’s more friction involved with records. I have to physically own the record and I have to manually put it on the turntable. It’s a deliberate act that requires a lot more effort than just selecting a playlist on Spotify. And it’s a lot more fun.

Hand vs. Computer Drawing: A Student's Opinion

In the debate about how architects - both present and future - represent our ideas, it is easy to find a lot of articles supporting both sides. One can read as many arguments as they want and find valid points supporting both hand-drawing and computer production. One could argue that there is nothing prettier than a well done hand-rendering of a project. Another could say that, although hand-drawing is something that catches the eye, it is not practical at all, takes longer than doing it on the computer and does not allow architects to easily modify it.

There is however another facet that does not come up as frequently as it maybe should: how does this discussion affect students? I believe we lie in a cross-fire, between the idea of what architects do and what they actually do.

5 Reasons Architects Should Learn to Code

In his popular post on how architects can "work smarter, not harder," Michael Kilkelly suggests that you should "customize your tools to work the way you work" and "use macros to automate repetitive tasks." Both sound very helpful of course, but wouldn't those require you to to write some code? Yes - but according to Kilkelly this should be a tool available in every architect's toolkit. Originally published on ArchSmarter, here he offers 5 reasons that architects should learn to code.

As architects, we need to know a lot of stuff. We need to know building codes, structures, mechanical systems, materials. We need to know how to read zoning codes, how to calculate building area, how to layout office floor. The list goes on and on. Do we really need to know how to write computer programs as well?

ThinkParametric Offers Free Online Classes

Launched in May of 2014, ThinkParametric is an online platform for learning the tools of the digital architecture trade. Gaining access to their video tutorials and the benefit of their online community would usually set you back $29 per month, or $269 for an entire year. However, to celebrate a successful first year, on March 12th they announced an "Open Class Season," a full month for people to enjoy their courses for free.

Free Online Architecture and Design Courses

Thanks to the increasing popularity of massive open online courses -- or MOOCs as they’re commonly referred to -- learning has never been easier (or more convenient). Sites like Coursera and edX offer free classes online from accredited and well-known universities across the globe, including Harvard, MIT and the University of Hong Kong. While some classes are more structured and include a set lesson plan, homework assignments, quizzes and the option to receive a certificate at the end, others can be set at your own pace and approached more independently.

Following our wildly popular article on Four Ways to Learn About Architecture for Free, we’ve compiled a list of upcoming online classes related to architecture, engineering, urbanism and design. So whether you’re looking to embark on a new topic or dive deeper into an already familiar subject, take a look at these free online courses after the break. 

The Robot Revolution: Coop Himmelb(l)au Founder Wolf D. Prix on the Future of Construction

With a recently released animation entitled “We Start the Future of Construction,” Coop Himmelb(l)au announced their intention to take digital fabrication to a radical new scale, demonstrating how technology is impacting almost every aspect of the architectural profession. The advent of building information modeling and other modeling software has transformed how architects and engineers navigate the construction process, allowing us to achieve increasingly complex forms that can be modeled with the aid of CNC machining and 3D Printing, but still there remains a wide gap between the technologies available to architects and those employed by builders. When it comes to a building’s actual construction we have been limited by the great costs associated with non-standard components and labor - but now, the automated practices that transformed manufacturing industries could revolutionize how we make buildings.

Last week, ArchDaily sat down with co-founder, Design Principal and CEO of Coop Himmelb(l)auWolf D. Prix for his thoughts on the future of construction and the role of the architect in an increasingly technological practice. Read on after the break to find out how robots could impact architectural design, construction, and the future of the profession.

Screenshot from Video. Image Courtesy of Coop Himmelb(l)au Screenshot from Video. Image Courtesy of Coop Himmelb(l)au Screenshot from Video. Image Courtesy of Coop Himmelb(l)au Screenshot from Video. Image Courtesy of Coop Himmelb(l)au

Report Ranks Best BIM and Building Design Platforms for 2015

The first Grid℠ winter report from G2 Crowd has been released, placing DataCAD as the CAD software delivering the highest overall levels of customer satisfaction. 

Using over 180 reviews from industry professionals, the Grid℠ plots software satisfaction levels against market presence (determined by vendor size, market share, and social impact), categorizing products as a "Leader," "High Performer," "Contender," or "Niche." G2 Crowd's review platform encompasses all CAD software widely used within architecture and construction, ranging from BIM to tools and libraries for mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and architectural design and construction. 

Defining a More Purposeful Architecture: A Guide to Current Architectural Trends

The current state of architectural design incorporates many contemporary ideas of what defines unique geometry. With the advent of strong computer software at the early 21st century, an expected level of experimentation has overtaken our profession and our academic realms to explore purposeful architecture through various techniques, delivering meaningful buildings that each exhibit a message of cultural relevancy.

These new movements are not distinct stylistic trends, but modes of approaching concept design. They often combine with each other, or with stylistic movements, to create complete designs. Outlined within this essay are five movements, each with varying degrees of success creating purposeful buildings: Diagramism, Neo-Brutalism, Revitism, Scriptism, and Subdivisionism.

AD Interviews: Viktor Várkonyiv / Graphisoft

Building Information Modeling (BIM) has been an invaluable technological advancement for the architecture, engineering, construction and building management industries. But for people who don’t use it on a daily basis, BIM can seem overwhelming.  This animated video breaks BIM down in layman’s terms explaining what it is, how it works and what the benefits of using it are.

Read on after the break to learn more about BIM and our interview with Viktor Várkonyi, the CFO of Graphisoft, one of the frontrunners in BIM development.

Sefaira Announces Real-Time Daylight Visualisation Tool for AutoDesk Revit

Sefaira, one of the leading software designers for high-performance building design, have recently announced a new real-time daylight analysis and visualisation tool which runs within Autodesk Revit, one of the most commonly used Building Information Modelling (BIM) enabled (Windows native) design packages. Sefaira for Revit allows for early stage analysis, leading to "more informed design decisions based on multiple daylighting metrics."

Top 10 Technical Apps for Architects

Building upon our Top 10 Apps for Architects, this collection brings together some of the best quality and most valued technical apps for designing, sketching, calculating and collaborating. Although the majority of those featured here are designed solely for the iOS platform, every time we collate lists such as these it's clear that more and more high quality apps for the Android and Windows platforms are being developed. From condensed versions of large scale software packages that architects and designers use every day, to blank canvases to scratch ideas down onto, you might just find an app that could improve the way you work.

Arrette Scale: calculating area. Image Courtesy of Arrette Scale Morpholio Trace. Image Courtesy of The Morpholio Project iRhino 3D (iOS). Image Courtesy of iRhino 3D PadCAD (Android). Image Courtesy of PadCAD

The Dutch Royal Picture Gallery at The Hague to Reopen Following Extensive Renovation

The Mauritshuis, a Dutch 17th century city palace in The Hague, will reopen this week following a large scale renovation and extension designed by Hans van Heeswijk with servicing and fire engineering undertaken by Arup. Similar to Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum, which reopened after a ten year restoration and remodelling in 2013, the Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery exhibits one of the finest collections of Dutch Golden Age paintings including Johannes Vermeer's Girl With a Pearl Earring. Alongside a large scale renovation, Hans van Heeswijk have also extended the galleries with new exhibition spaces, an auditorium and educational spaces.

Courtesy of Mauritshuis, The Hague. Image © Ronald Tilleman Courtesy of Mauritshuis, The Hague. Image © Ronald Tilleman Courtesy of Mauritshuis, The Hague. Image © Ronald Tilleman Courtesy of Mauritshuis, The Hague. Image © Ronald Tilleman

The Depreciating Value of Form in the Age of Digital Fabrication

In this article, originally appearing on the Australian Design Review as "Tolerance and Customisation: a Question of Value", Michael Parsons argues that the complex forms made possible by digital fabrication may soon be victims of their own popularity, losing their intrinsic value as they become more common and the skill required to make them decreases.

The idea of tolerance in architecture has become a popular point of discussion due to the recent mainstreaming of digital fabrication. The improvements in digital fabrication methods are allowing for two major advancements: firstly, the idea of reducing the tolerance required in construction to a minimum (and ultimately zero) and secondly, mass customisation as a physical reality. Digital fabrication has made the broad-brushstroke approach to fabrication tolerance obsolete and now allows for unique elements and tolerance specific to each element. The accuracy that digital fabrication affords the designer, allows for the creation of more complex forms with greater ease and control. So far, this has had great and far reaching implications for design.

Read on to find out how this ease of form-making could diminish the success of complex forms.