Archives for posts with tag: grasshopper

Back in early August, I had the privilege of speaking at USC’s annual BIM Symposium on the topic of visual programming. This post is my attempt at a sort of editorial that follows the narrative of that talk. Along the way, I’ll include a few of the videos that I shared at the presentation which hopefully demonstrate the kind of tool creation I’m talking about. Hope you enjoy.

It’s been 5 years since we officially launched our research program at the Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design. During that period we’ve come to understand that the evolution of our process reflects the larger, changing relationship architects have with their means of production. We’ve always been a profession of hackers. Every building is a one-off made up of countless elegant hacks, each bringing disparate materials and systems together into a cohesive whole.  But when it comes to the software that designers have come to rely on, most of us have been content with enthusiastic consumerism, eagerly awaiting the next releases from software developers like Autodesk, McNeel and Bentley. In late 2007 something changed. McNeel introduced a visual programming plugin called Grasshopper authored by David Rutten, and more and more architects began to hack their tools as well as their buildings. Read the rest of this entry »


Last fall a custom data visualization developed by our research team was featured on the information is beautiful website as part of their information is beautiful awards. In this post we discuss why we developed the graphic and how it is used.

Incident Solar Radiation is one of the most common types of analysis performed by architects at the conceptual design stage. Results indicate where solar heat gain might be an issue. These are areas where glazing should be minimized and exterior sunshades should be considered. Unfortunately, Ecotect does not have a way of communicating all of the results of this analysis in a single concise graphic format. As part of the research effort, we have developed a grasshopper definition that generates a graphic representation of both heat intensity and panel orientation in a single frame. Read the rest of this entry »

Many of us have struggled with incorporating analysis data from energy consultants or software like Ecotect and Energy Plus into the the early stages of design. This is largely due to the cumbersome process of moving models between design and analysis software, or worse,  the necessity to completely rebuild a model to suit a particular type of analysis or tool.  To complicate things further, the result of such efforts isn’t easily incorporated back into the design process, because the data harvested is usually output in a static format such as a chart or two-dimensional graphic.  A large part of our research is focused on discovering methods of improving the design/ analysis workflow so that that analytic tools can inform decisions made in the early stages of design. In this post we demonstrate a workflow for moving  3d geometry from our design tool, 3DStudio Max  through Rhino/ Grasshopper, into our analysis tool, Ecotect. After gathering data, we import a 3-dimensional representation of that information back into Max to help shape the design.  This process is also compatible for use with Maya or any other 3d modeling tool that can work with vertex colors (known as false color in Rhino) such as Blender or Unity.

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Evolutionary problem solving mimics the theory of evolution employing the same trial-and-error methods that nature uses in order to arrive at an optimized result.  When automated for specific parameters and results, this technique becomes an effective way to computationally drive controlled results within the iterative design process – allowing designers to produce optimized parameters resulting in a form, graphic or piece of data that best meets design criteria. In this post we walk you through the process of using Galapagos, an evolutionary solver for Rhino/ Grasshopper, and show an example of how this method can be tied in with analysis tools to optimize form based on energy data.

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