AEC Tech News (#322)

15 Nov, 2012 By: Cadalyst Staff

Bentley's GenerativeComponents Helps Architects Push the Limits of Building Design

Be Inspired Awards finalists incorporate complex curtain walls and swooping ceiling forms that are made easier thanks to the software.

By Nancy Spurling Johnson

This week at the historic Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky on Dam Square in the heart of Amsterdam, 58 teams — all users of Bentley Systems software — gathered to vie for the top honor in their respective categories at Be Inspired, the company's Innovations in Infrastructure Conference.

At the conference, each Be Inspired Awards finalist (three in each of 20 categories) aimed to convince contest jurors that his or her project was the best of the best, representing "outstanding achievement and innovation in infrastructure design, construction, and operations," according to the contest description. Every contest category represents tremendous feats of design and engineering, but one — Innovations in Generative Design — stands out for the progressive efforts that it embodies.

Generative design is Bentley Systems' terminology for the process at the heart of its GenerativeComponents modeling software, which automates design processes and allows architects to quickly explore a broad range of design iterations for even the most complex buildings. Designs can be refined by either dynamically modeling and directly manipulating geometry, by applying rules and capturing relationships among building elements, or by defining complex building forms and systems through concisely expressed algorithms. The results are remarkable building designs that in many cases would not be possible without the unique software.

Following are the three projects that were finalists in the Be Inspired Awards category of Innovations in Generative Design.

Guardian Towers

A collaboration between LAB Architecture Studio and ERGA Progress, the Guardian Towers complex in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, comprises an 18-story residential tower, 18-story commercial office tower, and a two-level retail podium. LAB architecture studio used GenerativeComponents to develop block structures that are shifted, sliced, and slightly rotated and have offset footprints. The software also allowed for extensive testing and visualization of the double-skinned facades and fritted glazing.

Guardian Towers is a mixed-use project designed by LAB Architecture Studio of Melbourne, Australia, and ERGA Progress of Abu Dhabi.

"With GenerativeComponents, we can generate hundreds of design iterations," said Tim Fowler, architect, of LAB Architecture Studio. "We find a 'branch' [of options] we like, then iterate down that branch." Previously, the firm called on interns and other staffers to create a few dozen physical prototypes for consideration.

Guardian Towers designers contended with time constraints, challenging site boundary conditions, and a project owner who changed the building setback and requested other significant changes after the initial design review. "This wouldn't have been possible without GenerativeComponents," Fowler said.

Fowler added that using GenerativeComponents resulted in four primary benefits to the project: reduced time to completion, reduced cost, a better design, and confidence that the unique and complex design was buildable. The project was completed two months ahead of schedule, three weeks of which was due to the rapid documentation process that allowed piling work to begin early. The final design of the 52,000 m2 project came within 30 m2 of the allowable floor space. Read more »

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Nancy Spurling Johnson is Cadalyst's editor in chief.


Mark Your Calendar: AEC Events


Autodesk University 2012
November 27–29, 2012
Las Vegas, Nevada
Autodesk University (AU), a conference and exhibition for Autodesk product users, will bring together design and technology professionals for networking, exhibits, innovation forums, and a new curriculum of more than 800 lectures, roundtable sessions, and hands-on labs. Visit Cadalyst at booth #412! Read more »

Building Innovation 2013
January 7–10, 2013
Washington, D.C.
Building Innovation 2013 is a gathering place for building industry professionals and stakeholders seeking up-to-date information on building science, technology, and ways to collaborate to improve the built environment. Read more »

RTC 2013 Australasia
May 16–18, 2013
Auckland, New Zealand
At the ninth Australasian Revit Technology Conference (RTC), attendees will be able to learn from some of the world's top instructors and industry experts, share ideas and insights with an international community, and explore the latest trends and technologies. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to


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