AEC Tech News (#328)

16 May, 2013 By: Cadalyst Staff

Smartgeometry Event Pushes Limits of Architectural Design

Professionals and students alike collaborate using advanced computational software and conventional tools.

By Nancy Spurling Johnson

The Smartgeometry event is home to some of the most advanced thinking and application of computational software that you're likely to find in the architecture field. So why does a visit there feel for a moment as if you've stumbled into a kindergarten classroom?

The answer is all about tools. Smartgeometry revolves around hands-on workshops that, in their efforts to challenge current design methodologies, are just as likely to call on pencils, paper, utility knives, and duct tape as they are to turn to highly sophisticated technologies. The 100 participants — including designers, engineers, architects, craftspeople, and university instructors and students — tap digital as well as physical media to explore concepts and take them from idea to design to production. Indeed, choosing the right tool for a given task was a guiding principle at this year's event.

Smartgeometry 2013: Constructing for Uncertainty

Smartgeometry Group, the organization behind the event, is a handful of professionals who volunteer their time in pursuit of their passion for computational design. Bentley Systems, developer of GenerativeComponents computational design software, is a cofounder and major sponsor of the event.

GenerativeComponents is one of a handful of computational design solutions on the market that uses algorithms to automatically iterate design options within specified boundaries. It captures and exploits the critical relationships between design intent and geometry, enabling designers to quickly explore a broad range of what-if alternatives for even the most complex buildings. Designs can be refined by 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.

Hosted by The Bartlett, the University of Central London's faculty of the built environment, Smartgeometry 2013 was themed "Constructing for Uncertainty." It explored how building professionals can use technology to design spaces, buildings, and cities in the face of variable economies, forces of nature, and even occupant behaviors of the future. Officially, organizers stated that the event would address "the transition of computational design from the hard space of the ideal to the soft reality of an uncertain built environment."

Shane Burger, director of design technology at Woods Bagot in New York City and a member of Smartgeometry Group, explained to the media that today's users of building design and construction software technologies face a major limitation: Only a subset of the relevant factors in design can be represented in standard CAD systems. "As users," he said, "we must drive computational systems to assume new roles and subsume more domains to meet the needs before us. We must consider issues of time and permanence within a cultural and technological landscape of constant change. ... As designers, we must deal with realities and future uncertainties of context, material and immaterial, and their manifestations in scale from spaces to buildings to cities." Read more »

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Nancy Spurling Johnson is editor-in-chief of Cadalyst.

IMAGINiT Tricks Tutorial: Autodesk Software Deployments 101

This article demystifies a time-saving method for rolling out software, and also explains how easy it is to reconfigure a software deployment after it has been built.

By Pete Markovic

For quite a few releases now, Autodesk has incorporated a software deployment method to aid CAD administrators in delivering their software to users' desktops. By building a software deployment, CAD admins can be assured that they're delivering the same configuration of the software to each user. This deployment method can also greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to upgrade a department to the latest version of software.

Very little has changed in how these deployments are created and distributed since Autodesk first introduced this method. With the 2013 versions of its software, however, Autodesk began including tools to facilitate using Microsoft's SMS/SCCM tools. If your company uses Microsoft's SMS/SCCM tools, consider using the software deployment, as it will fit into your IT's architecture very nicely.

This article is not going to explain those tools, but rather some of the basics for setting up and reconfiguring the deployments to be delivered successfully. Whether you are a beginner or novice in creating these deployments, understanding just a few of the basics can save you a lot of time and headaches. Read more »

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Pete Markovic is a solutions consultant with IMAGINiT Technologies who specializes in PDM products and 3D CAD tools.

Mark Your Calendar: AEC Events

Getting the Most Out of AutoCAD Design Suite 2014
May 22, 2013
11 a.m. PT
In this free webinar from Novedge, attendees can learn about Autodesk Recap, Geographic Location, and the new interactive Design Feed, not to mention great everyday command improvements. Read more »

June 3–6, 2013
Las Vegas, Nevada
HxGN, Hexagon's international conference, will include keynotes, networking, and more than 100 sessions. Conference tracks will focus on geosystems; metrology; process, power, and marine; and security, government, and infrastructure. Read more »

Transoft Light Rail Design Software Launch
June 12, 2013
10 a.m. PT
Transoft Solutions will present this webinar for the live global launch of its newest software product for the light rail design sector. During the presentation, a product specialist will guide attendees through the features and functionality of the railway design software package. 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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About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

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