Lian (Harvard GSD M.Arch.I)

I graduated in 2013, but still blog here once in a while.

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    How Frank Gehry, who doesn't know how to use a computer, started Gehry Technologies

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    May 12, '15 7:32 PM EST

    Hi Archinect, 

    I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Gehry Technologies CTO Dennis Shelden and writing about Gehry Technologies, Frank Gehry's software and project delivery services company, for the data-driven blog Priceonomics

    Gehry Technologies, as you may recall, was acquired this past September by the GPS, data, logistics, and asset management behemoth Trimble Navigation, as part of a shopping spree that also included Sketchup and facility management software Manhattan Atrium. A few weeks ago, Trimble and Microsoft announced a new collaboration to develop a new generation of AEC tools using Microsoft's holographic HoloLens platform. So it seemed like a good time to trace the company's history.

    [Physical model (right) and digitally rationalized model (left). From Dennis Shelden's epic doctoral dissertation.]

    Since I've most often written for architecture-savvy folks like yourself, it was a challenge to explain the significance of parametrics and BIM to a more general audience.

    For example, why is it so disruptive for a single digital model to be shared by the architect's team, various engineers, the general contractor, and fabricators? For anyone who hasn't worked on construction drawings or heard about the Byzantine horrors of bidding negotiations, liability, and change orders in professional practice classes, this might not seem like a big deal. Or why does it matter for 3D surfaces to be rationalized into ones with zero Gaussian curvature? If you haven't spent at least one night crying over bits of cardboard and a hot glue gun, you probably don't care. 

    One thing that didn't make it into the piece is Gehry's glorious appearance on The Simpsons.

    Anyways, check it out and let me know what you think! And thanks for reading.


    The future is here, and the future is terrifying. Trimble and Microsoft's HoloLens.

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About this Blog

This blog was most active from 2009-2013. Writing about my experiences and life at Harvard GSD started out as a way for me to process my experiences as an M.Arch.I student, and evolved into a record of the intellectual and cultural life of the Cambridge architecture (and to a lesser extent, design/technology) community, through live-blogs. These days, I work as a data storyteller (and blogger at in San Francisco, and still post here once in a while.

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