ARC 605: Form Finding and Designing with Forces

Instructor: Nicholas Bruscia
ARC 605
Fall 2016

DESCRIPTION: 

The studio will aim to develop proposals for a new athletic arena at the site of the former War Memorial Stadium located in the East Side of Buffalo. Chosen for both its technical and programmatic challenges, research surrounding the arena typology will amount to building proposals driven by spectator experience and student research on form-active structures.

The  studio will introduce computational form-finding techniques to design structurally elegant, long-span roof canopies, while incorporating other algorithmic tools to analyze interior conditions such as seating arrangements, sight lines, and circulation. A portion of the technical skill building will introduce a workflow associated with the buildability of the exterior envelope under the real-world material and geometric constraints of tensioned membrane and paneled cable-net structures. On-screen experiments of tensile systems will be studied in parallel with large scale working models. Tensioned membranes are of particular interest to the studio due to their flexible design aesthetics, climatic durability, and the local expertise of Birdair, the leading specialty contractor for custom tensile membrane structures throughout the world. Central to the research will be reviews and discussions with engineers from Birdair to gain insight toward the applicability of the formal experiments and design proposals produced in the studio.

Advanced digital modeling and visual programming methods are integral to the learning objectives of the studio. The technical methods introduced in the course enable a quick organization of forces and an iterative simulation of the results; a necessary process to accurately model the motion of flexible materials. Previous experience with algorithmic programming is not a requirement, as the studio intends to accommodate beginners with in-class workshops directly related to group research and independent design proposals.