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Home-Faculty & Staff-Virginia Tech Center for Design Research exhibits research pavilion at Reality Computing Summit

Virginia Tech Center for Design Research exhibits research pavilion at Reality Computing Summit

Starting with the design, construction, and deployment of the Lo-Fab Pavilion, which is scheduled to remain on the Boston Greenway throughout the summer of 2016, the Virginia Tech Center for Design Research embarked on a collaborative research program focused on the potential for computational design and digital fabrication to inform new opportunities for wood construction.

This research, a collaboration between the Center for Design Research at Virginia Tech, MASS Design Group, Autodesk, and Rudabega with contribution from BuroHappold Engineering, serves as the impetus for the development of new computational tools, robotic fabrication techniques, and applications of short span wooden members in long span structures.

Faculty Nathan King and Chip Clark, along with Master of Architecture students Jason Zawitkowski of Blacksburg, Virginia and Conor Byrne of Raleigh North Carolina, recently installed the pavilion at the Fort Mason Center for the Arts & Culture for the Reality Computing Summit, known as REAL 2016, in San Francisco, California.

The annual REAL event is a unique opportunity for industry, practitioners, and academics to come together through workshops, demonstrations, and lectures to discuss issues surrounding Reality Computing.

According to Rick Rundell, a Senior Director at Autodesk, “Reality Computing is about capturing physical information digitally, using digital tools to create new knowledge and new designs, and then being able to deliver digital information into the physical world by materializing it through various computer controlled processes or through augmented reality…We use the term “Reality Computing” to encompass an emerging set of workflows around the data required by 3-D Printing and also data that is generated for various kinds of spatial sensing technologies.”

The CDR Research Pavilion utilizes reality capture through the use of 3-D laser scanning technologies to evaluate and compare the final realized prototype with the original design model and the simulated deflected shape. The results of the analysis will be used to inform future developments in the robotic fabrication workflow developed at the CDR’s Design Robotics Studio at the CAUS Research and Demonstration Facility.

The prototypical structure is designed using a computational design workflow that links Atuodesk’s Dynamo with React Structures, and ultimately to the newly developed Dynamo-TORO plugin that is used to control the ABB robots within the CDR Robotics facility. This exhibition is an extension of what was presented at Autodesk University in November 2015.


“The opportunity to develop an applied research platform that links academia, industry, and practice is unique in our field. All too often advanced technologies are developed in a vacuum, but through the work on the Lo-Fab Pavilion and subsequent demonstrable prototypes we have been able to create a hub of collaboration that has led to the development of new tools, methods, and technology transfer for use in AEC industries…The CDR participation in REAL is yet another example of the potential for our research at the university to engage industry and practice at a high level on an international stage. “ says Assistant Professor Nathan King who leads the effort.

King will also present a lecture at the conference entitled “Reality Computing for Resource Limitation,” where he will focus on emerging opportunities for urban scale analysis through drone capture for use in the design distributed health care systems in Port-au-Prince Haiti.