University of Minnesota (Aaron)



Sep '06 - Feb '08

  • Processing for Architects

    By Aaron Westre
    Feb 13, '08 4:49 PM EST

    I'm writing the software for my thesis project in Processing, an integrated development environment created by Ben Fry and Casey Reas as a tool for artists and designers to explore software development as a part of their creative work. Processing employs the Java programming language along with code libraries that provide a quick start for creative types to build software that deals with visual effects and interaction.

    In architecture, while two dimensional images are useful, being able to produce and manipulate three dimensional data is even more so. Luckily Processing includes the capabilities of OpenGL, industry standard software for visualizing and creating 3D scenes. While most development environments require a fairly deep knowledge of the mechanisms within OpenGL, Processing takes care of these intricacies for the developer. Perhaps even more importantly, there are a growing number of Processing users who contribute code and help to those who are new to the tool.

    To get started, you can download Processing for free. As an effort to speed the uninitiated along, I've created a simple example program (called a "sketch" in Processing parlance), that you can use to start exploring. Before we begin you will need a few supplies:

    • Processing

      Unzip it and place the "Processing" folder in with the rest of your applications (generally Program Files on Windows and Applications on Mac) and make a note of where you placed it.

    • Kristian Damkjer's very helpful OCD Library

      Unzip it and place the OCD folder in the libraries folder inside the Processing folder you placed in with your applications. (On Windows, something like c:\Program Files\Processing\libraries\ and on Mac something like /Applications/Processing/libraries/) This library makes moving around the 3D scene much less complicated.

    • My 3D Processing Example

      Unzip it and place the template3d folder on the desktop or similar location for now.

    Start up Processing and select File > Open and locate the template3d folder. Select the template3d.pde file and then the Open button. What you'll be looking at is the Processing user interface with some sample code that I wrote to act as a starting point for 3D sketches.

    Processing Interface

    Press the Run button (the one at the top with the triangle) and the sketch will start up. The sketch generates a series of random boxes, which can be regenerated by pressing the R key.

    The template3d sketch

    Try moving around the scene by dragging the mouse around, which orbits the camera around. Holding down the Shift or Alt keys down while dragging will pan or tilt the camera, respectively. Pressing the X key will export a DXF file of the scene to the template3d folder and pressing the I key will export an image of the current view.

    The navigation and export functions included in this example are the primary elements that I've identified as crucial for any Processing sketch that will be used in an architectural setting. The random boxes in the example are included as a basic introduction to drawing 3D geometry in Processing. Try changing the maxDimension value at the top of the code to something like 20 to see how a small modification can have a big effect on the output. The Processing site has some good tutorials, should you want to explore more.

    I'll be writing about more Processing techniques useful for architectural work in the weeks to come. View full entry

  • Fall 2007 Lecture Series at the University of Minnesota

    By Aaron Westre
    Sep 1, '07 5:49 PM EST

    Lectures at the College of Design Manuel DeLanda, adjunct associate professor, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University (New York) and professor for contemporary philosophy and science, European Graduate School (Switzerland) Cities as Historical Actors... View full entry

  • Archi - what?

    By Aaron Westre
    Aug 8, '07 10:45 PM EST

    The lecture series will be forthcoming... the department(s) are always late on the uptake, we're College of Design now. What's in my dead-tree pile? The Projective Cast by Robin Evans, The Definitive Guide to Symfony by François Zaniotto... architecture... all of it. View full entry

  • Amy Landesberg workshop concludes

    By Aaron Westre
    Mar 7, '07 9:11 PM EST

    The catalyst workshop was a smashing success with blinkin' lights applied virtually to unassuming curtainwall structures around Minneapolis. My group grafted a double-layer mesh LED screen onto the facade of the Carlson School of Management, here on the U of M campus. Photo by Evan Hall Tension... View full entry

  • Amy Landesberg workshop begins

    By Aaron Westre
    Mar 1, '07 4:59 PM EST

    Today is the start of a workshop called "Between Image and Architecture" taught by [Amy Landesberg]( We'll be working with curtainwalls... selecting a particular building to perform an intervention on. The scenario is that we will be "collaborating" with a conceptual artist... View full entry

  • New is a relative term.

    By Aaron Westre
    Feb 28, '07 11:14 PM EST

    A new semester started here at the University of Minnesota some six weeks ago and just now I remember I have this blog to post to. There are busy people in the world and then there are architecture grad students... can I get an amen? Anyway, I somehow managed to put together the most radical-est... View full entry

  • Review what?

    By Aaron Westre
    Nov 16, '06 1:46 PM EST

    Review tomorrow for studio and I've got nothing but ideas. I've increasingly found, however, that this is not such a bad situation to be in. Some prefer have a building, but no ideas, which is much worse from my perspective. Some good quotes from a Cedric Price book I'm reading for studio: Notes... View full entry

  • Model Transport Method #223

    By Aaron Westre
    Nov 8, '06 1:20 AM EST

    Model Transport Method #223 Originally uploaded by aaronwestre.Necessity is the mother of invention. Let's hope it doesn't rain. Seen outside Rapson Hall (architecture) on the University of Minnesota campus. Minneapolis, MN, USA. View full entry

  • SmartGeometry 2007

    By Aaron Westre
    Nov 8, '06 12:54 AM EST

    The SmartGeometry conference is coming up again, this time in New York on the 31st of Janurary, 2007. The most intriguing part of the conference from my perspective is the workshop that happens over the four days preceding the conference. If it's anything like last year's, which I assume it is... View full entry

  • Bruce Sterling Keynote at Idea06

    By Aaron Westre
    Nov 2, '06 5:41 PM EST

    This is why I dig Bruce Sterling. He starts off his keynote at Idea 2006 reciting a list of quotes gathered during the conference and winds up with some great analysis of Rem Koolhaas' Seattle Public Library (where the conference was held). In between he talked about the new World Changing book... View full entry

  • Hip hop in the bath

    By Aaron Westre
    Oct 7, '06 11:09 AM EST

    A must see. A hip hop video filmed in Zumthor's Therme at Vals: Via: Gravestmor View full entry

  • Area Student Still Lost in Rapson Hall

    By Aaron Westre
    Oct 2, '06 2:13 PM EST

    Why is it that, after wandering around this building for over 5 years, I can still get lost? (south, west, north, and east basement corridors in Rapson Hall) As you can see, the basement of the old part of the building is truly problematic. It's got a perfectly symmetrical plan. The same enameled... View full entry

  • Architectural History Student Symposium

    By Aaron Westre
    Sep 16, '06 1:45 PM EST

    I'm at the first annual student symposium, sponsored by the Minnesota Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians. It's more interesting than it sounds. There are talks on pattern books, vedic influence on modern Indian architecture, art deco in the Twin Cities, the architecture of White... View full entry

  • On Choosing the Right Graduate Program

    By Aaron Westre
    Sep 8, '06 12:23 PM EST

    You know you've found the right graduate program when the material requirements for your first assignment closely match those of a student aged 5. View full entry

  • M.Arch. Year 2

    By Aaron Westre
    Sep 8, '06 12:22 PM EST

    This year is shaping up to be a good one. My courses: Thermal Design Lighting and Acustic Design Architecture in the Enlightenment (with Robert Ferguson, who has a great mind for history) Studio (with Jennifer Yoos of VJAA) In the enlightenment course we'll be primarily writing a research paper... View full entry

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