Parametric strategies civic and sports architecture design

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Parametric strategies civic and sports architecture design

  1. 1. PARAMETRIC STRATEGIES IN CIVIC AND SPORTS ARCHITECTURE DESIGN by Nathan Miller, NBBJ
  2. 2. PARAMETRIC STRATEGIES in Civic and Sports Architecture Design by Nathan Miller, NBBJ Abstract Using several NBBJ civic projects as case studies, this paper provides an overview of how NBBJ’s Los Angeles design studio is leveraging parametric and generative processes for the design of projects such as stadiums and exposition halls. A combination of ambitious design intent and fast project scheduling necessitates the use of advanced parametric tools to quickly solve complex design problems, generate unique design features, and automate parts of the design process. Designers will utilize digital tools for a variety of purposes which can be classified under two general categories. The first and most common application of the technology is within the category of rationalization and optimization. The tool, in this case, is limited to the roll of a production device aiding the designer in efficiently solving complex design problems. In more unique projects, the advanced technology acts as a generative tool and is an integral part of a working design methodology. In this case, the design technology becomes more than just a tool at the designer’s disposal and has the potential to act as a critical lens for identifying new possibilities in the architecture. While still early in implementation, advanced digital tool are becoming more readily deployed over the course of the design and delivery phases within NBBJ. The projects exhibited in this paper are identified and evaluated as benchmarks for how parametric and generative tools are being used within NBBJ’s civic practice. Further, the projects are also suggestive of a roadmap for how future projects can further integrate these digital tools and techniques within the broader design and delivery process.
  3. 3. Figure 1. Aerial rendering of the Kintex Phase II Exposition Center. Introduction and experiment with new processes, forms, and design techniques. At the same time, the complexities associated In the midst of an increasingly uncertain global economy, with various practical considerations require the use of architects are seeking new ideas and design processes more advanced techniques to efficiently automate and to differentiate their design product and gain competitive manage the design challenges at large scales. advantages within the market. The latest advances in digital design technology are at the forefront of this Currently digital technology is leveraged in two ways conversation by fundamentally redefining how architecture within the design process. More commonly, advanced can be designed, documented, and constructed. Firstly, digital technologies are leveraged for the purposes of advanced tools offer a means to improve efficiency in the rationalization and optimization. design-delivery process by allowing designers to more toolsets, in these instances, are used purely as a means easily manage complex project information. Secondly, to support the design idea while the technology is placed new design technology offers opportunities for innovation in a supporting roll. This is often extremely effective from by giving the designer the ability to expand the possibilities a production standpoint; however, the full potential of of buildable form through new design and fabrication the digital techniques to inform design thinking is rarely processes (Shelden 2006). achieved. For NBBJ Los Angeles, the area of practice in which In more unique cases, opportunities for leveraging the advanced digital technology is becoming the most influential generative capabilities of advanced design software are is within the civic market. The demand for ambitious civic identified and the digital tool acts more as a critical lens for design ideas from clients, city officials, and the general generating new architectural possibilities and evaluating public allows for a greater degree of freedom to explore Parametric Strategies in Civic and Sports Architecture Design The advanced digital
  4. 4. the project. Operating in this mode, the design ideas evolve out of a system of project rules and constraints. This process-driven approach allows for the design logic established within the early phases to be carried seamlessly into the design development and construction phases of the project. Further, this form of design process will often require the invention of new tools and techniques in the form of scripts and macros enabling a more opensource attitude towards digital technology accompanied by an interest in going beyond appearance and into the design of processes (Kieran 2005). Using several case studies, this paper outlines the range of influence advanced digital tools are having within the NBBJ Los Angeles design studio. While still early in their implementation, advanced digital technology is becoming more readily deployed over the course of the design and delivery phases in varying degrees. The case study Figure 2. Kintex roof geometry. projects are treated as a roadmap for the continued integration of advanced tools and customized workflows within the design process in order to strike a new balance curving roof geometries and to the engineer’s structural of both efficiency and innovation. sketch (Figure 3). To do this, the initial B-spline geometries which defined the roof surface sweeps were used as a starting point for structural articulation. Each B-spline was Kintex Expo Phase II subdivided into equal point lists and then cross connected to create the truss edges. These lines were then subdivided The Kintex Exposition Center Phase II is a winning NBBJ further to articulate truss chords and cross members. design competition entry located in South Korea (Figure Since the geometries were associated with one another, 1). Programmatically, the building holds six convention further feedback from the engineer regarding depth and halls, a multipurpose hall, and a mid-rise office tower. The module increment could be quickly accounted for within building is sited as two convention wings on the east and the model. Additionally, changes in the overall geometry west flanking two exterior plazas and connected by an for design purposes could be easily made without the atrium space. Conceptually, all programmatic elements need to manually remake portions of the model. are tied together by a continuous roof form which splits and undulates to modulate light and conform to interior The second challenge was the curtain wall design and volumetric requirements (Figure 2.). In terms of digital the ability to iterate through several detailed variations design processes, various parametric modeling techniques of patterns that emerged from the combination of became a means to quickly develop, rationalize, and detail structure and glazing systems. The initial surface from the conceptual surface massing into a 3D model under the the conceptual model was used to drive the curtain wall umbrella of the overriding design concept. geometries. The surface was divided into a modular grid based on the UV parameters of the surface to allow for The first modeling challenge was the articulation of a long the propagation of standard components comprising the span roof truss which conformed to both to the free-form structure, mullions, and glazing panels (Figure 4). Parametric Strategies in Civic and Sports Architecture Design
  5. 5. Figure 3. Modeling of the long span structural system. Figure 4. Developed curtain wall system with structure, mullions, and glazing patterns. While this propagation technique is now a fairly standard operation within parametric modeling software, the challenge was the precise coordination of the three different systems being driven from one surface (Figure 5). The necessary offsets, material thicknesses, structural depth, and density had to be taken into account for the successful systematization of the design. As a benchmark project within the studio, the Kintex Expo provides an example for integrating parametric techniques in a one-directional manner within the design process. The short time frame of the competition and the late integration of the technology did not allow for any degree of feedback to occur between the design intent and the tools. The tools were, therefore, always at the service of the design but not vise versa. Figure 5. Coordinated structure and mullion systems from one surface. Parametric Strategies in Civic and Sports Architecture Design
  6. 6. Figure 6. Physical study model of the Shell Stadium design scheme. Shell Stadium The stadium shell concept allowed for an investigation into the potential of using rationalized mathematical The Shell Stadium is one of several design studies for an geometry as a design driver. To start, the concept was international stadium competition. The primary challenge loosely sketch modeled using free-form NURBS surfaces. of the competition was to create a flexible stadium design However, given the budgetary constraints outlined in which would shrink or expand its capacity between 30,000 the competition requirements, it soon became clear that and 70,000 seats over the course of its life span while there needed to be a way to develop the curvatures in a still maintaining a strong iconic image. Shell Stadium is more rigorous manner. Torus geometry was chosen as a composed of two large shell-like forms which would twist starting point because of its ability to achieve controlled up from ground and become a stadium roof (Figure 6). doubly-curved shapes while still maintaining standardized Conceptually, the shells would act as a self-supporting quadrilateral panel modules. The use of torus geometry as staging area under which the stadium bowl and retail a rationalization technique has precedent in architecture functions would be free to modulate their program sizes. design, most notably in the work of Sir Norman Foster From the standpoint of implementing parametric tools, and the Specialist Modeling Group (Peters 2008). The Shell Stadium offered several unique opportunities in geometric properties of mathematical geometry, such the areas of formal rationalization of the roof form and as the torus, allow for more efficient manufacturing and in the creation of a system for generating multiple bowl production of architectural elements such as structure and prototypes. surface materials (Shodek et. al. 2005). Parametric Strategies in Civic and Sports Architecture Design
  7. 7. Various irregular profile curves were intersected with the torus geometry in order to find an optimal torus surface section which curved from a vertical condition to a horizontal one (Figure 7). From the torus section, structural ribs and panels were generated for a further study into the structure and skin systems. The use of the mathematical geometry within a parametric modeling environment also allowed the design team to efficiently coordinate 2D laser cut files of the curving structure and panel systems (Figure 8) and quickly construct various physical study models (Figure 9). Figure 7 Slicing out a torus shape was a method for defining a roof shape. Figure 8. 2D fabrication files of rib and panel systems. Figure 9. Study models were assembled using 2D fabrication files derived from the torus geometry. Parametric Strategies in Civic and Sports Architecture Design
  8. 8. The programming of the variable stadium bowl seating standards. Other critical design data such as seating was also a unique opportunity for devising a parametric capacity estimates, riser angles, and 2D bowl sections are system to study bowl shapes, seating capacities, and also outputted to the user. configurations. An in-house bowl generator was scripted based on typical stadium conventions (John et. al. 2007) The Shell Stadium is an example where feedback for the creation of two or three tiered bowl sections derived between a design idea and the digital tools moved the from the calculation of optimal sightlines (Figure 10).The design process forward and also set an example within script sweeps the bowl section along a specified curve in the design studio for how geometry could be rationalized plan to create an up-to-date 3D representation (Figure 11). and fabricated. Further, the creation of the bowl generator The user is able to adjust parameters such as the number has proven to be a valuable tool which can be reused on of rows, distance from the playing field, and sightline multiple stadium and arena projects. Figure 10. A stadium bowl generator developed using Grasshopper for Rhino Figure 11. Stadium bowl prototypes outputted from the parametric system. Parametric Strategies in Civic and Sports Architecture Design
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  10. 10. Parametric Strategies in Civic and Sports Architecture Design
  11. 11. Figure 12. The Hangzhou main stadium and sports park. Hangzhou Main Stadium The Hangzhou Main Stadium is an 80,000 seat multipurpose stadium located in Hangzhou, China. Originally planned as the venue for the National Games for the People’s Republic of China the stadium is now conceived of as a premier sports venue for the rapidly expanding city of Hangzhou (Figure 12.). For the NBBJ LA studio, the Hangzhou stadium is a benchmark example where parametric thinking was integrated into the early design stages and then advanced as the design became Figure 13. The B-spline copy-mirror process used to derive the exterior shell concept. articulated within a developed model. The execution of the stadium also draws from many of the strategies outlined in the previous projects and coordinates them into one parametric system. The exterior of the stadium was conceptualized as a series of unique yet repetitive truss modules (affectionately referred to as petals) which enclose the stadium bowl. The original geometric concept was derived from a study of 3D, symmetrical B-spline patterns resulting from a rigorous copy-mirror process about an elliptical stadium shape (Figure 13). Parametric Strategies in Civic and Sports Architecture Design Figure 14. Early studies of the stadium structure and modularity.
  12. 12. Figure 15. The petal profiles were parametrically linked with the stadium bowl sightline and riser parameters. Using the original concept model as a starting point, the inner and outer limits of the geometry were defined in section. From these limits, points were mapped which would act as control points for B-spline curves. These curves are used to define the primary truss cross section and were linked to the seating bowl (Figure 15). Multiple instances of the primary truss and the curve control points were then reoriented perpendicular to the elliptical stadium curve. This method allowed for the primary trusses to maintain the same sectional dimensions around the entire stadium. The petal profiles were then described from the same set of control points that have been shifted in key places within the section and elevation. The result was a customized petal geometry that was relational to the primary, regularized truss structure. The petal surfaces were modeled as a series of developable surfaces connecting two adjacent petal rail profiles. Limiting the geometry to developable surfaces is of special importance when considering how the petal shapes would eventually be unrolled for manufacturing purposes (Shodek et. al. 2005). The curve geometry defining the trusses and petals were further subdivided to achieve the cross bracing and lateral support centerlines (Figure 16). Figure 16. Diagram showing parametric associations from geometry to structure and skin. Parametric Strategies in Civic and Sports Architecture Design
  13. 13. Figure 17. Multiple modular variations were studied which were evaluated based on aesthetic and engineering requirements. Since the stadium geometry is associative, the design Conclusions and Future Work team was able to efficiently study alternatives within the new geometric constraints and maintain the rules of the The use of parametric modeling tools in varying degrees is original design intent (Figure 17). beginning to gain momentum within NBBJ’s Los Angeles design practice. Specifically, the ambitious design criteria Further, feedback from consultants and engineers are associated with civic projects has necessitated the use of able to be absorbed within the system by building on the advanced parametric modeling to effectively design with original geometry to add further detail and articulation the complex constraints of programmatic, structural, and (Figure 18). The advantages to this are numerous but the geometric concepts. primary gains are the ability to preserve design intentions independent of any given geometric iteration as well as the In the case of Kintex Expo, the digital tools are used as a eliminating the cost associated with generate-test-discard means to efficiently build and coordinate complex design models of design practice (Sheperd 2006). pieces, such as curtain walls and structural systems, within the 3D model using propagation and subdivision As a project in development, the Hangzhou stadium is a strategies. While this method of computer modeling is benchmark for integrating parametric ideas and tools at all not a new technique, the recent implementation within the levels of the design process. The goal is to have parametric NBBJ studio has expanded the studio’s design possibilities modeling continue to be the primary means of developing by enabling designers to more efficiently describe and the design as well as transmitting the design intent to the visualize complex systems and relationships. local architects, engineers, and clients in China. In the case of Shell Stadium, customized tools and processes have also been devised within the studio and to aid in solving complex and reoccurring design Parametric Strategies in Civic and Sports Architecture Design
  14. 14. problems. The stadium bowl generator developed for the Shell Stadium has allowed for the rapid creation of their work on the Kintex Exposition Center Phase II and CCDI for their work on the Hangzhou Stadium. stadium prototypes on various stadium projects. Rigorous rationalization techniques using mathematical geometries References have allowed for explorations into the fabrication and prototyping of complex forms and structures. Developing these unique processes has spurred the creation of a digital John, Geraint, Rod Sheard, and Ben Vickery. (2007). Stadia, 4th Edition. Oxford: Elsevier Limited. tools library so that as new techniques are discovered and invented they can be developed and customized for use on different projects. Kieran, Stephen, James Timberlake. (2005). Refabricating Architecture: How Manufacturing Methodologies are Poised to Transform Building Construction. New York: The Hangzhou stadium serves as an example of utilizing a McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing. generative approach to digital techniques within practice by developing a rule-based methodology to drive the project Peters, Brady. (2008). Copenhagen Elephant House: A from early conception into design development. Since Case Study of Digital Design Processes, in Silicon+Skin: the design was parameterized into a flexible yet precise Biological Processes and Computation, Proceedings of system of constraints, the design team was able to take the ACADIA 2007 Conference. Eds. Andrew Kudless, a comprehensive approach in solving the geometric and Neri Oxman, and Marc Swackhamer, 134-141. engineering problems as well as efficiently study many Morrisville, NC: Lulu Press, Inc. design alternatives grounded within the design intent. Shodek, Daniel, Martin Bechthold, Kimo Griggs, Kenneth Ultimately, as advanced modeling tools and techniques Martin Kao, and Marco Steinberg. (2005). Digital Design become more widely used within the design studio, the and Manufacturing: CAD/CAM Applications in design of the digital process becomes just as important as Architecture and Design. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & the design of the projects themselves. Sons, Inc. Acknowledgements Shelden, Dennis R. (2006). Tectonics, Economics, and the Reconfiguration of Practice: The Case for Process This paper would not have been possible without the Change by Digital Means, in Architecture Design, contributions and support of the NBBJ Los Angeles design Special Issue: Programming Cultures, v.76, no. 4, July studio. The author also acknowledges the contributions of 2006. 82-87. London: Wiley-Academy NBBJ’s overseas collaborators: MooYoung Architects for Figure 18. Developed design models were used to create drawings for documenting structure and skin relationships. Parametric Strategies in Civic and Sports Architecture Design
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  17. 17. About the Author About the Paper Nathan’s professional background combines experience This paper was originally written in early 2009 and was in construction, leadership on international designs, and presented and published as part of the 2009 ACADIA expertise in computation. Conference hosted by the Art Institute of Chicago. Several minor changes have been made to the original text and Nathan’s portfolio of work includes numerous international some graphics have been updated. design projects and innovative computational processes. Over the past four years, Nathan has been leading NBBJ The original text and full conference proceedings are in the development and implementation of computational available through ACADIA. http://www.acadia.org design systems for developing generative concepts, maximizing production efficiency, and increasing building performance. Most recently, Nathan spearheaded a firm-wide strategic development initiative at NBBJ for growing the firm’s expertise in design computation. The operations of the strategy include the delivery of extensive team workshops and project support for advanced digital capabilities. Nathan is fluent in several programming and scripting languages and frequently employs this knowledge to extend the capabilities of design software. As an avid blogger, Nathan frequently publishes scripts, plug-ins, and design explorations to The Proving Ground. Nathan has lectured on the topic of design and computation at venues including the ACADIA conference, the ACSA conference, the annual USC BIM symposium, and the Los Angeles Design Technology Forum. Nathan is also a part-time instructor at the University of Southern California where he instructs seminars on performancedriven parametric design and evolutionary computation. Nathan holds a Masters of Architecture degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Parametric Strategies in Civic and Sports Architecture Design
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