Skip to content

Four Days in a Smartgeometry 2012 Workshop

March 24, 2012

I must say that my first experience at Smart Geometry has been intense!  Four days of ups and downs working in a group (called a “cluster” in SG speak) titled “Material Conflicts” and lead (or “championed”) by a group of software research and developers from Bentley.   The overall goal of our cluster was to experiment with recent analysis capabilities added to Bentley’s Generative Components (GC) tools: EnergyPlus (for building energy analysis), STAAD (structural analysis), Kangaroo (dynamic structures), Locust Swarm (flocking behavior), and Darwin (multi-objective evolutionary search tool).  The concept was to create projects  using two or more of the analysis tools as drivers for an optimization search controlled by the Darwin search engine.  My plan was to work with Mark Donofrio, UO colleague and fellow attendee, on a structural optimization problem.

Great concept!  Two problems:  1) I didn’t bring a well enough prepared project and  2) their software was stable yet.

Day 1 got off to a slow start, in part due to problem #1 and problem #2 made Day 2 even more frustrating.  On Day 3 my team, now composed of myself, Mark, Wendy and Mengchan (two great new friends and fellow attendees), began developing a group of structural models through various mechanisms.  I dropped back into my own, stable, safe Rhino/C#/Visual Studio environment and began growing tree-based organic structures.   This day was a series of ups and downs driven by feelings of success with the progress I was making versus feelings of frustration because I could have been doing the same thing at home in Portland, Oregon, and what the heck was I doing here!  Headed back to the hotel early (meaning after only a 12 hour day) for some much needed rest.

Front view of the Tree Pavilion, a generative design example I created for structural testing. The “trees” were grown downward from a set of randomly points placed on the roof surface to a regular array of fixed points on the base. .

Which brings us to Day 4: the last workshop day of the conference.  I woke early with my head full of discoveries about all of the successes and frustrations so far and what I was learning from the process.  An hour more work and my trees started looking great.  Even better, the models imported into Generative Components just advertised!  Structural analysis and success were at hand!

Problem?  Ummm… the export/import process through files naturally lost all of the connectivity structure I had in my trees.  I had the lines but no longer in the form I needed to traverse and create the corresponding structural members I wanted to test.  Answer?  The Bentley engineers (who had been working incredibly hard throughout, debugging problems as they appeared and keeping us all up and running) recognized a designer with a high level of hacking skill and said, “hey, we can help you move those C# libraries over into GC.  Grow the trees directly there and retain the information needed to do the structural analysis as well.”

Interior view of the Tree Pavilion. Although the trees were generated by clustering roof points downward to the trunks,, the sizes of structural elements had to be created working from the tree trunks upward. For this reason, keeping track of the connectivity of the tree form was critical.   

Results for my four day’s work?  Some fun new generated structural trees.  Experience with GC.  A new development environment and capability.  A whole lot of new thoughts about why computational thinking and advanced software skills are important for doing this kind of development work.  Not to mention the new friends, fun, and inspiration acquired along the way.  Many, many answers to Day 3’s question, “Why am I here?”   When the dust settles I know I will see this as having been an incredibly useful week.  Yesterday, Day 5, we caught our breath and  listened to round tables by a variety of creative people.  Available to watch on the SmartGeometry website.  Today we just finished an astounding presentation by Enric Ruiz-Geli of Cloud 9 Studios in Barcelona, hopefully that video will be available in the future as well.  And watch for the background patter of twitter posts at #SG2012.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: