Unit 6 – Performance-Based Conceptual Design
The Performance Based Conceptual Design Unit is a series of four lessons that use Autodesk® Project Vasari as a tool for creating and comparing conceptual designs with analysis. Each Lesson can be completed individually, but it is recommended that you start from the beginning. Throughout the Unit, you will explore how Project Vasari can be used to make the early design and analytical phases of a project a more fluid and iterative process. This case study will take a project from a series of schematic sketches to a three dimensional academic campus for a waterfront site in downtown San Diego, CA.
Performance Based Conceptual Design and Analysis
Using analytical tools early in the conceptual design phase can facilitate more informed design decisions. The benefits of working with readily available real world data early on are clear: The designer can determine how to orient a building with idealized solar exposure, how to mitigate energy use, how to select and pursue one design option over another based on empirical results, as well as easily track and document the changes that occur through this design process.
Particular trends can emerge from this iterative design, test, redesign, and retest process. The correlation between space types, occupancy, and glazing percentages can change the way a building is expressed formally as well as have large implications on the construction and operational life-cycle costs of a project.
To leverage the power of this information that is available, design teams must establish goals early in the conceptual design stage. Setting goals creates an outline of measures and targets to achieve as the project comes to life and helps with using the availability of analysis. Models are made of different options maximizing certain criteria or achieving specific goals, and then intelligent decisions can be made based on the results that balance those different goals.
Project Vasari, as a tool for early conceptual design modeling that quickly provides data feedback and analysis, specifically addresses this potential. With an integrated user interface that merges Autodesk® Ecotect® software solar analysis tools, geo-referenced weather data, Autodesk® Project Nucleus architectural form finding gravity simulation, and Autodesk® Revit® Architecture software parametric conceptual modeling environment, Vasari can offer a sophisticated workflow from the outset of a project.
Using environmental data and performance-based conceptual design is NOT a linear process. This unit is organized in a way that breaks down this process into a series of recursive steps, but this case study is only one example of a Vasari conceptual design workflow. Guiding principles and project desires are always different and require consideration throughout the course of any design process. Data from any source can be used to guide the design at any step.
This case study surveys an iterative design process, modeling and evaluating differing conceptual options and alternatives. This process can be compared to a recursive algorithm, but the designer has the power to shift or influence the results at any time. After analysis, results are incorporated in the final design, and unused alternatives provide a clear logic argument for the final choice. While dealing with large amounts of information can be typically overwhelming and difficult to keep organized, Project Vasari makes this non-linear yet logical process relatively easy.
Case Study: A Campus in San Diego
Conceptual Design Intent: A Topological Academic Campus
The lines between research, teaching, living, and playing are becoming increasingly blurred as a consequence of proliferating digital technologies. We seek to develop a systematic way of designing a flexible set of relationships between traditionally disparate programs to create a new type of academic campus typology:
While a typical campus is traditionally understood as a collection of individual buildings, our topological concept is to encourage and facilitate an interdisciplinary cross pollination between different subjects through a main singular building that exudes a sense of convergence, connectedness, and continuity.
With the ambition to create a “topological” campus, the relationship between landscape and building have been inverted to create a formal strategy that allows for flexibility in the way program spaces are assigned. To accomplish the formal goals, the use of analytical tools helps define the way the building’s envelope is articulated.
Site, Program, and Goals
In general, this project uses an approach on design focusing on analytical tools and analysis. The results of the analysis inform the design and are constantly worked back into the design in a feedback loop of design and analysis. The project goals:
- Compare the environmental performance between multiple Design Options
- Compare the efficiency of different options
- Make decisions balancing construction cost and environmental performance
This case study involves an academic campus in heart of downtown San Diego, California. At this early stage in the project multiple uses are specified in the program for around 700,000 square feet. Approximately broken into thirds, the program includes residential spaces, classroom spaces, and amenity spaces. The campus is situated on a highly visible waterfront site with three street fronts. At this stage, the program is still partially flexible and the emphasis will be placed on analysis of the percentage of program than hard numbers. In Project Vasari students will look over different program and formal options and then in the Revit Architecture software students can solidify space and program numbers. Throughout the design process, the relationship between these program elements will be taken into consideration for analysis during modeling.
The primary benefit of using Project Vasari in early conceptual design is the easy access to quick feedback and analysis tools. The design evolves quicker and with more integrity when empirical analyses are used and studied to make intelligent decisions through the design process. As the design goes through this workflow, detail and more resolution can be added to hone in and refine the overall design and get deeper into the decision making process.
Software Tools and Requirements
To complete the exercises in this unit, students should download the Autodesk RevitArchitecture software from the Autodesk Education Community website and Autodesk Project Vasari from the Autodesk Labs website and install them on their computers.
For more detailed coverage and examples of how to use Autodesk software for other design tasks, students can refer to:
- Curriculum materials available on the Autodesk Education Community website.
- Autodesk software’s extensive help menu and wiki.
- Videos and tutorials available in the Revit help menu or on Autodesk Labs.