Integrated design for greenhouse in Portola ValleyDesign, 2018 - Present
This ongoing design project looks at an "eco-modernist" custom greenhouse to be built in Portola Valley, California. The objective of this greenhouse is to meet requirements for extended-season plant growth while requiring limited intervention for operation and applying approaches of structural efficiency. Tools such as our Design Space Explorer suite are used to explore and select among a wide design space that meet performance objectives to varying degrees. Local materials and custom structural joinery will be used in the greenhouse construction.
Joinery connections in timber frames: analytical and experimental explorations of structural behaviorDemi Fang and Caitlin Mueller, International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures (IASS), 2018
Innovations in mass timber have ushered in a resurgence of timber construction. Historic timber structures feature joinery connections which geometrically interlock, rarely featuring in modern construction which utilizes steel fasteners for connection details. Research in the geometric potential and mechanical performance of joinery connections remain disparate. This study seeks to develop a performance-driven design framework for the geometry of joinery connections. Experimental and analytical models for three types of joinery connections are presented and compared. The T* type joint, which uses a T-shaped tenon instead of a dovetail, experimentally showed the highest rotational stiffness. The analytically predicted rotational stiffness of the T* type joint comes within 20% of the experimentally determined value. A preliminary parametric study through the analytical model demonstrates how geometric parameters can be varied to achieve desired rotational stiffness.
Challenging the material palette: Peter Rice's feats in concrete through the lens of collaborationDemi Fang and Caitlin Mueller, International Conference on Structures and Architecture (ICSA), 2019 (Abstract accepted)
Structural engineer Peter Rice (1935-1992) has been hailed for his poeticism and daring in structural engineering. Many designers, with whom he collaborated on projects large and small, have lauded his spirit of confidently propelling rather than stifling the design process with his engineering feedback.
This paper focuses on Rice’s major projects in concrete, particularly the Sydney Opera House (1957), a reinforced concrete project whose political chaos often obscures its influence on the beginning of Rice’s career; and the Menil Collection Gallery (1987), whose ferrocement “leaves” symbolized the craftsmanship Rice attained by the end of his successful career of collaborating with architectural designers. By synthesizing and comparing the collaborative dynamic revolving around the material palette in these projects marking two ends of Rice’s engineering career, supplemented by a closer look at two intermediate projects as well as new firsthand accounts by Rice’s peers, this paper brings insight into the nature of Rice’s collaborations in the concrete era of the 20th century.
Mohamed Ismail Presents at ACSA 20182018-03-17, Tags: conceptual-design conceptual-structural-design constructabililty design-tool shell-structures structural-optimization visualization
Mohamed presented his paper entitled "Resistance Through Form: Synthesis Structures in the Design of a Residential Architecture for Khartoum, Sudan" at the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture's (ACSA) 106th Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, on March 17th, 2018. He presented his paper in the session "Architecture of the other 99%? – Power, Economy, and the Dilemma of History", and then joined a panel discussion moderated by Professor Ole Fischer of the University of Utah.
Caitlin Mueller and Paul Mayencourt present at NESEA Build Energy Boston2018-03-09, Tags: conceptual-design embodied-carbon
Caitlin Mueller and Paul Mayencourt will present in a panel at the NESEA conference on March 9th on Material Choice and Climate Change on environmental impact of building materials.
Structural optimization of folded plate structuresResearch, 2016
This project explores the potential of folded plate structures to be a structurally optimized architectural typology.
A custom Grasshopper script was developed in which the designer can determine the form of a spanning folded plate structures by adjusting the control points of two curves through which the base surface is lofted. The input geometry is then connected to two different optimizers, Goat and Digital Structure's own Stormcloud, to generate different optimized alternatives close to the base shape.
The findings demonstrated that the folded plate typology inherently performed better than a continuous shell of the same shape. Structural optimization was shown to offer a wide design space for the global morphology of folded plate structures.
A video overview of the parametric modeling process and a few case studies is presented here.
Digital brainstorming: New computational tools for creative data-driven designCaitlin Mueller, Nathan Brown, and Renaud Danhaive, ABX 2015: Conference for the Boston Society of Architects, 2015
This session focuses on tools that link conceptual design decisions in architecture to quantitative and qualitiative performance metrics, such as structural material volume, energy consumption, daylighting quality, and formal and spatial qualities. Developed by the Digital Structures research group at MIT, these tools emphasize design over analysis, aiming to help designers explore a wide range of diverse, surprising, and high-performing alternatives for conceptual design problems. Participants will learn strategies for using the tools in their own practices to navigate conceptual building design problems in a flexible yet data-driven way.
An integrated computational approach for creative conceptual structural designCaitlin Mueller and John Ochsendorf, Proceedings of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures (IASS) Symposium 2013, 2013
This paper introduces a new computational approach for creative conceptual structural design, synthesizing an interactive evolutionary framework, a structural grammar strategy for trans-typological design, and a performance-focused surrogate modelling technique. By developing and integrating these three strategies into a unified design approach, this research enables architects and structural designers to explore broad ranges of conceptual design alternatives in an interactive way.
From analysis to design: a new computational strategy for structural creativityCaitlin Mueller and John Ochsendorf, Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Design in Civil and Environmental Engineering, 2013
Since the introduction of finite element analysis software in the 1970s, structural engineers have become increasingly reliant on computational tools to carry out sophisticated simulations of structural performance. However, most structural analysis tools can only be used once there is a structure to be analyzed; they are not directly applicable in the design or synthesis of a new structural solution. This paper presents new research that expands the applicability of computation from structural analysis to structural design, with an emphasis on conceptual design applications. Specifically, this paper introduces a new interactive evolutionary framework implemented in a web-based structural design tool, structureFIT. This approach enables users to explore structural design options through an interactive evolutionary algorithm, and to further refine designs through a real-time analysis mode. This paper includes a critical background on optimization and its applications in structural design, an overview of the original interactive evolutionary framework, a description of the design tool, and a discussion of potential applications.
The state of the art of computational tools for conceptual structural designAnke Rolvink, Caitlin Mueller, and Jeroen Coenders, Proceedings of the IASS-SLTE 2014 Symposium, 2014
This paper presents a review of existing research, projects, developments and applications in the domain of design tools for conceptual structural engineering. The availability of these tools and research into software for conceptual structural design stages has shown a number of interesting developments over the last past few years. The purpose of this investigation is to understand the requirements for software for the early stages of structural design. It investigates the current conceptual design practice, discusses a number of novel trends, and characterizes the relative effectiveness of the available technologies in relation to the nature of the early design stages.
Integrating constructability into conceptual structural design and optimizationResearch, 2014 - 2015
This research encourages interdisciplinary design exploration through consideration of constructability in conceptual structural design. Six new metrics are introduced to measure variability in structural components, impose reasonable construction constraints, and encourage standardization of structural characteristics which can improve the ease, efficiency, and costs of construction. This research applies these original constructability metrics to truss facade structures for an objective, quantitative comparison with structural performance metrics. The primary contribution of these new metrics is a computational method that can aid in identifying expressive, high-performing structures in the conceptual design phase, when decisions regarding global structural behavior have the greatest impact on multi-objective project goals.