SFCDI January 2020 | Abstracting Project-Specific Problems for Broader Application

On January 17th, 12:00 pm PST, SFCDI  welcomes Zach Soflin and Tom Svilans. This month’s meeting will be hosted at the AIA 130 Sutter St # 600, San Francisco, CA 94104.

Speaker Zach Soflin

Zach Soflin, AIA, has spent nearly a decade promoting and leading computational design and innovation initiatives in practice before founding Layer, an AEC start-up where he leads company operations and product development. He is a lecturer at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln where he teaches parametric modeling and its application in architecture. He speaks regularly about BIM and complex building data, including at BILT, APT International Conference, and AEC Tech Symposium.

Feature Presentation: Abstracting Project-Specific Problems for Broader Application

BIM models excel at adding simple, textual data to building elements. But what about complex data (images, tasks, messaging, and complex parameters)? This presentation discusses how a 50-person architecture firm developed software in-house that allows designers to efficiently collect complex data in the field, access that data in their BIM model, and share that data across multiple platforms. The presentation will also demonstrate this software development process as an opportunity to think critically about what can be learned from the open-sourced, collaborative nature of the computer science industry.


The presentation will focus on a means of cataloging and accessing complex, unbounded project data using a custom application that interfaces with conventional BIM platforms.
Working on the interior renovation of the Nebraska State Capitol, the project team had a detailed BIM model, but no way to link complex project data (images, tasks, notes, complex parameters) to specific elements (ex: rooms, windows, doors). The project’s scale (more than 1,300 rooms), along with the multiplicity of data required (57 data points), necessitated an alternative to the traditional way of collecting and correlating data. The software, developed by one of the firm’s project architects, Zach Soflin, AIA, allowed users to collect complex project data in the field and immediately access it in the model. The application was also designed to create a knowledge sharing hub, creating closer collaboration and more transparency for project teams. At a higher level, the presentation will discuss lessons learned from the perspective of an architect leveraging tools from computer science industry and how AEC professionals can begin to apply the computer science industry’s systematic approach and open-sourced collaborative nature to the building profession.


Featured Presentation: New Workflows in Digital Timber

Timber has gained a new relevance in architectural design and construction due to advances in engineering and material sciences. Engineered wood products can be sustainably produced, are easily workable, and offer other advantages over other common building materials such as steel or concrete. However, the material complexity of timber complicates its use and adaptation, especially in high-performance and non-standard applications. This research explores a material practice that combines computational modelling, simulation, and material prototyping in order to create a closer relationship between design and material behaviour. As a collaboration with two industrial partners, it seeks to link early-stage architectural design processes with large-scale timber fabrication knowledge, limitations, and opportunities. This presentation will provide an overview of the research framework, its main developments, and its outputs, with a particular focus on the computational processes involved throughout the modelling and fabrication workflows deployed therein.

Speaker: Tom Svilans

Tom Svilans is an architectural designer and researcher based in Copenhagen, Denmark. His research focuses on the role of emerging technologies in revealing new modes of material practice and the performative nature of manufacturing. Tom is currently completing a PhD research project at CITA (Centre for IT and Architecture) in Copenhagen, as part of the EU-funded InnoChain training network. The project explores large-scale free-form timber construction in close collaboration with the digital research team Dsearch at White Arkitekter AB (SE) and the free-forms department of timber contractor Blumer Lehmann AG (CH).

Food Sponsor by LAYER

Attending in person?  Get your tickets here.  Registration in person closes at noon on the day of the event. No exceptions. This month will be hosted at AIA.
Attending on-line? Register to the free webcast here. GoToWebinar sponsored by GENSLER.

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