Evolve Or Perish: Data-Driven Design Tools Are Changing The Game
SmithGroup is participating in a year-long COGfx study which is being conducted by Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health Healthy Building Program. COGfx is studying buildings all over the world to determine what factors contribute to healthy work environments. The intent is to help all stakeholders – building managers, architects, engineers, interior designers, and developers create healthy work environments. The study uses an smartphone app and wearable device (think Fitbit tracking sleep, steps, heartbeat) in combination with environmental sensors to monitor dust, TVOC’s (total volatile organic compounds), CO2, temperature, ambient light, and noise. Surveys are also a major part of the study. SmithGroup’s Boston and San Francisco offices each have 10 participants enrolled as part of an ongoing effort by SmithGroup’s Technology in Practice Data Solutions Group to better understand how we shape and are shaped by our work environments.
Computational design solutions, like Rhino + Grasshopper, Dynamo + Revit, allow designers to go from geometry to automated 2D documents. They enable designers to measure and predict building performance and human factors. Custom scripts analyze and measure all of the data we can input, and the input process doesn’t require a computer science degree. It’s a new and exciting way to think about design.
Using augmented reality in the field to verify panel placement on the new DC Water Headquarters in Washington, DC. The windows and metal panel tags from the Revit model are “mapped” onto the façade of the building, allowing the design team to verify the proper panels were installed by the contractor.
At the city scale, data-driven solution use scripting in combination with a CAD background to develop density scenarios based on parameters established by the design team (i.e. floor area ratios, height, setbacks, etc.). This allows the team to rapidly prototype entire city blocks to meet design requirements. The resulting data can be reported in a number of ways – graphically, spreadsheets, etc.
THE QUEST TO REMAIN RELEVANT
Remaining relevant as design professionals requires us to embrace new service offerings, new tools and data-driven workflows. With disruption driving changes in space utilization and the pressures of talent acquisition and retention, our clients rely on us more and more to understand and measure all factors that influence design quality, including the human factors. As a profession, our teams need to be well-versed in managing data from start to finish. We need to embrace these new set of metrics and services and continue to employ data as a key component to design.