April 20-26, 2001
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In Memoriam

Caplin decries trend toward multidisciplinary law practices

How teachers draw their students in
Using new technology brings major changes to arts precinct classrooms
Architecture team designs high-tech Wright model
Hot Links -- Va.Garden Week
Enrollment correction
'Today' at UVA -- Katie Couric visit
This might be the week to read a good film
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New U.Va. logo debuts
Above is a computer-simulated view of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Larkin Building from the upper interior balcony adjacent to the dining floor. Though demolished 50 years ago, the building is still legendary for its light-filled spaces and progressive amenities. U.Va. professor Earl Mark, along with research associates Eric Field and Duncan Morton and former graduate students Khanh Uong and Seth Peterson, coordinated such displays as this one in an exhibition at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.

Architecture team designs high-tech Wright model

By Jane Ford

Computers are at the forefront of designs for the future and research of the past in the University’s
School of Architecture.

“We continually integrate traditional methods in the design, planning and historical examination of built and natural environments with new computer-based methods to visualize, observe and analyze,” said Earl Mark, associate professor of architecture and director of computer technologies.

Mark and a team of research associates and former graduate students recently used their high-tech analytical tools to create computer-related interactive displays and an online catalog for the exhibition, “On the Job: Designing the American Office,” at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. The show runs through August 19.

Using the original architectural working drawing and historical photos, the team also created an animated three-dimensional reconstruction of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Larkin Building in Buffalo, N.Y., a state-of-the-art office building constructed in 1904 and demolished in 1950. Their reconstruction shows simulated effects, including lights that turn on and off, the constantly changing effects of sun and shadow inside and out and interactive three-dimensional computer models of all lighting, furniture and cabinet elements.

“We pushed the technology to create photo-realistic representations of the building’s complex intersections of geometry and light and included every documented light fixture, desk and sign, as well as juxtaposed the drawings and model for a better understanding of the building,” Mark said.
Mark and his team received a grant from the National Building Museum to explore the Larkin Building and obtained technology for the exhibition from Apple Computer.

On a daily basis, architecture students and faculty increasingly use digital terrain modeling, GIS, CAAD, computer graphics animation, image processing, digital video production, structural analysis simulation, lighting analysis, desktop publishing and soon will use three-dimensional laser printing applications as the bases for their visual analysis.

These software tools allow historians and designers to reconstruct important buildings to analyze their design, structure and materials. To test various proposals, animated three-dimensional computer models examine numerous designs and site specifications.

Aware that technology is constantly evolving, Mark is quick to add that technology doesn’t replace the foundations of higher education learning. “Teaching specific techniques is no substitute for instructing students to think critically and imaginatively about solving problems with computer technology,” Mark said.

Another benefit of this analytical use of computer technology is the blurring of lines between the architecture, landscape, history and planning disciplines, according to Mark. “Shared interdisciplinary models of the built and natural environment are opening the doors to collaborative efforts.

“This analytical approach is not unique in architectural education at U.Va.,” Mark said. “We are among a handful of schools now moving in this direction and it’s causing a broad-based reflection on our curricula.”


© Copyright 2001 by the Rector and Visitors
of the University of Virginia

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