Archaeology of CAD

Software reconstructions of early computer aided design systems

When: Jan-May 2018

Who I worked with: Done under Prof Daniel Cardoso Llach.

What I learned: This was my first time designing and executing a full piece of software, which in itself was a great learning experience. Interpreting a paper written in the 1970's and taking that to a completed piece of software involved both a fundamental understanding of the algorithms involved in computer graphics, as well as a strong intuition of how to design human-centered software.

What this was: "Archaeology of CAD” is a series of interactive installations exploring the origins of Computer-Aided Design by reconstructing a selection of pioneering software systems from the 1960s and 70s. Drawing from primary archival and oral sources, these reconstructions playfully revisit these transformative technologies, which were central to re-shape architectural and engineering practices during the second half of the twentieth century. Here's the main project site. A special shoutout to Scott Donaldson for helpful advice with UI and debugging!

My Role: I was responsible for the "CISP" CAD system. Parametric methods for architectural and urban design started to make their way into academic research in the early 1970s. Under the advise of Charles Eastman, Chris Yessios theorized a system for urban design called CISP as part of his PhD in Computational Design at Carnegie Mellon University. CISP allowed a user to define a vocabulary of elements and a series of constraints, such as views and accessibility, to configure different urban conditions. The system attempts to semi-autonomously create design solutions that respect the constraints. Given that CISP was never implemented, this reconstruction works entirely from research reports and papers found in the CMU archives. Here's the link to the user manual.