The Digital Evolution

by Paul Bennett, Freelance Writer,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 2000, Vol. 70, Issue 8, Pg. 50-55

Document Type: Feature article


As designers such as Gehry Architects dream up ever-more fluid and sculptural shapes for buildings, the only way to turn those aesthetic shapes into solid, safe structures is by using computer-aided design. In fact, some designs are being handled from conception to engineering to fabrication to job-site in an all-digital, 3-D CAD environment. One of the latest examples is the Gehry-designed Experience Music Project in Seattle, which boasts undulating, random curves that were originally modeled on software that was originally designed for the aerospace industry. The engineers for the skin, Wallis Engineering, of Kansas City, Missouri, took Gehry's computer model and performed their structural analysis and design work directly in the electronic environment, while the fabricator, A. Zahner Company, also of Kansas City, took the same computer model and used it to create shop drawings for punching the thousands of metal sheets that would be needed to cover the museum.

Subject Headings: Computer aided design | Computer models | Structural safety | Structural models | Fabrication | Computer analysis | Building design

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