The Smithsonian Courtyard Enclosure: a case-study of digital design processes

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    his paper outlines the processes involved in the design of the Smithsonian Institutionis Patent Office Buildingis new courtyard enclosure. In 2004, Foster + Partners won an invited international competition to design the new courtyard enclosure in Washington, D.C. Early in the project, the Specialist Modelling Group (SMG), an internal research and design consultancy, was brought in to advise the project team on computer modelling techniques, develop new digital design tools, and help solve the complex geometric issues involved. Throughout the project, computer programming was used as one of the primary tools to explore design options. The design constraints were encoded within a system of associated geometries. This set-out geometry performed as a mechanism to control the parameters of a generative script. The design evolution involved the use of many different media and techniques and there was an intense dialog between a large team and many consultants. The computer script was a synthesis of the design ideas and was constantly modified and adapted during the design process. The close collaboration between architects, consultants, and fabricators was of key importance to the success of the project. This project, now named The Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard, will complete in late 2007.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationExpanding Bodies: Art - Cities - Environment : Proceedings of the 27th Annual Conference of the Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA)
    Number of pages10
    Publication date2007
    ISBN (Print)978-0-9780978-6-8
    Publication statusPublished - 2007
    EventACADIA 2007 - Halifax, Canada
    Duration: 1 Oct 20077 Oct 2007
    Conference number: 27


    ConferenceACADIA 2007


    • digital design
    • complex geometry

    Artistic research

    • No

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