14 Algorithmic modelling, parametric thinking
There are several keywords associated with design methodologies and software tools associated with them, which include, generally, ‘computational design’ and ‘building information modelling’ (these terms somewhat replaced ‘computer-aided design’) and, more specifically, ‘parametric design’ and ‘algorithmic design’. I suggest that these latter two terms describe an approach to design as much as (or more than) a type of software tool created to enable this approach. In fact, special software tools (or even computers) are not necessary to design this way.
Computers and software tools, however, can substantially enable the designer to design and explore ‘design spaces’ to levels and to depths that would be a challenge without them. In my experience, at the office and also working in collaboration with artists and independently, I have found that the simplest software tools can also be the most powerful, that generic tools with the ability to be programmed or scripted can be more flexible and less encumbering than more powerful tools designed to be used in a particular way.
In this chapter, I will describe some of the innovative contributions to the field of computational design made by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, as well as my own education and interest in geometrical modelling and algorithmic methods. The intersection of these two things has provided the opportunity for me to participate in many different ways on many projects ...