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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Brian Robert Johnson
ARCH 486
Seattle Campus

Algorithmic Geometry in Architectural Design

Introduction to design and implementation of parametric modeling of algorithmically generated geometries using computational elements and real-time computation. Introduces concepts related to computer programming, computational geometry and 3D modeling with weekly exercises using 2D and 3D computer modeling frameworks, plus a term project. Requires significant amount of hands-on work.

Class description

Using the Grasshopper plugin to the Rhino 3D modeling program as well as the Processing programming IDE, students will be challenged to creatively explore and test basic computational geometry concepts (parametric representations, curves, surfaces, particle-spring systems, surface subdivision, Voronoi diagrams, Delaunay Triangulation, etc.) while learning basic programming concepts (data types, looping & branching, OOP concepts, GUI elements, keyboard and mouse events) in an interactive and visually stimulating environment.

Student learning goals

Students will be able to create dynamic, animated, interactive 2D and 3D applets using Processing.

Students will be able to use the Grasshopper plugin for Rhino to create and manipulate solutions to 2D and 3D geometric problems

Students will understand how piecewise approximation mechanisms work and how they can be exploited for design development.

Students will understand how to create algorithmic and parametric solutions to geometric problems, that programs encode model logic and behavior.

General method of instruction

Concepts will generally be introduced through lectures illustrated with sample code and demonstration programs. Students are then challenged to extend the existing application or apply the lecture material in creative ways so that they "own" the material.

Recommended preparation

Computer literacy is required, including knowledge of paint and draw applications, file transfer, and very simple HTML. Students should have had math to at least the level of advanced algebra and trigonometry.

Class assignments and grading

A series of short (approx one week) focused assignments builds confidence and skill while providing opportunity for feedback on method and process. A larger term project gives opportunity for personalization and application of skills to a project with greater scope.

Exercises are graded on technical correctness, the extent to which they exhibit and extend the related concepts, and the creative or playful character they exhibit.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Course website
Last Update by Brian Robert Johnson
Date: 02/18/2013