15 Interview with the Specialist Modelling Group (SMG): The dynamic coordination of distributed intelligence at Foster and Partners

Hugh Whitehead, Xavier de Kestelier, Irene Gallou and Tuba Kocatürk

The Specialist Modelling Group (SMG) is an in-house consultancy at Foster and Partners, which has introduced a highly advanced three-dimensional computer modelling capability that allows the design teams both to explore design solutions rapidly and to communicate data to consultants and contractors. The Specialist Modelling Group was formed in 1997 and is led by Hugh Whitehead, a Partner at Foster and Partners. Some of the over 100 projects that the SMG has made a contribution to include the Swiss Re Headquarters, the Sage Gateshead Music Centre, London City Hall, Albion Riverside residences, the Chesa Futura apartment building, the new Beijing International Airport (Figures 15.1 to 15.5) and Queen Alia Airport (Figures 15.6 to 15.10).

The Specialist Modelling Group has expertise in complex geometry, environmental simulation, parametric design, computer programming and rapid prototyping. The SMG brief is to carry out project-driven research and development in the intense design environment of the Foster and Partners office. One of the primary goals of the Specialist Modelling Group is to develop control mechanisms that drive geometry in response to relationships. These control mechanisms can be parametric models or custom programmed scripts. The CAD geometry that these mechanisms ...

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