Digital Toolsets

Today’s designer has the most diversified and comprehensive digital toolset available to date. Over a very short period of time, the practice of appropriating digital technologies from other professions in both parallel design fields and the industrial manufacturing sector have given way to highly customized software/hardware for the AEC industry. As a result, we have now ushered in an era where performance-based outcomes now drive a more comprehensive and deterministic process of design. Specifically, it is fluency of the upstream-downstream integration (concept to post-occupancy) that has now re-established a coherency in the role of digital integration for today’s architect. Beyond performance as a general condition, the technological advancements of digital toolset integration must turn to address large-scale issues facing an increasingly complex global condition. As designers, regardless of digital proficiency - or maybe because of our digital proficiency - we have an opportunity to seek out innovative solutions to some of the largest issues facing us in the next 30 to 50 years. Computational design will not be self-referential in this regard but will help to bring solutions to much larger problems. Lastly, it will be in this framework that we begin to understand how the potential for post-digital scenarios will take shape. A future where the ubiquity/scarcity spectrum will provide new design paradigms for the future generation of designers.

Topics of Discussion:

  • The current integration of digital toolsets into the architectural design process with an emphasis on performance-based outcomes.

  • The integration of digital toolsets into the construction process highlighting the spectrum of efficiency to innovation.

  • The role of digital toolsets in addressing larger issues of significance like carbon emissions, material scarcity, and affordable housing solutions.

  • The various potentials for a postdigital horizon: technological ubiquity, technological hybridization, technological scarcity.

Presenter: Brad Bell

Brad Bell is the Director of the School of Architecture and an Associate Professor at The University of Texas at Arlington.  He also directs the Digital Architecture Research Consortium (DARC) at UT Arlington where he researches and teaches on the integration of advanced digital technologies into the architectural design process with a focus on the use of digital fabrication and cast materials. He has lectured, taught, and written on the uses of CAD/CAM technologies for the past twelve years and has been an invited critic at schools of architecture throughout the United States. From 2008-2015 he founded and directed TEX-FAB, an organization committed to providing a platform for education on digital fabrication and parametric modeling to the professional, academic and manufacturing communities in Texas. Professor Bell has been awarded the UT Arlington President’s medal for Teaching Excellence in 2015. Brad sits on the Board of AIA Dallas, AIA Fort Worth, and the Dallas Architecture Forum. Over the past 20 years, his design practice has built innovative residential houses in Texas, Colorado, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. He holds a Bachelor of Environmental Design from Texas A&M and a Master of Architecture degree from the Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation at Columbia University.


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