Design Manifestos: Jason Steiner of Mithun | Modelo Blog Series

Design Manifestos: Jason Steiner of Mithun

Jason Steiner (Photograph courtesy of Mithun)

Blending artistic vision with analytic expertise, Jason Steiner leads Mithun’svisual design team at the Seattle, Washington office and integrates digital modeling, performance analysis and visualization into the design process. With advanced degrees in environmental design and architecture, Jason assists clients in visually understanding and articulating their goals through the medium of graphic communication and employing technology such as Building Information Modeling (BIM). Modelo recently connected with Jason and learned about his digital design process and his inspirations for past, present and future designs.

On becoming an architect
I do not recall the exact moment in time when I realized I wanted to be an architect. I don’t recall having an abundance of Legos as a child, so that’s likely not the reason. My parents were not architects. I did not know any architects. My earliest career aspirations, at least those that I remember, included being a truck driver, carpenter or lawyer. In that order.

However, for as long as long as I can remember, I have had a sustained interest in building construction, solving complex problems, making things and drawing. These combined interests ultimately led me towards architecture as my choice of profession.

On discovering his voice as a designer
During my second year of college I was part of the first cohort required to take a computer graphics course. This was an initial pilot program intended to eventually fully integrate design technology into the academic curriculum. I was hooked and perhaps even obsessed. I was absolutely energized by my new ability to model and realistically visualize any space or form I could imagine. I could explore design ideas without limitation. This free exploration provided me with the ultimate facility; the mouse became my pencil and the screen my canvas. I am a minimalist and in practice employ an elemental, modern approach to design. I believe that great design emerges from simple meaningful concepts. Every design element has purpose, is intentional and essential. I truly believe that the digital tools I was exposed to early in my academic career were the single most influential part of discovering my voice as a designer.

‘200 Occidental’ (Photograph by MIR, Design by Mithun)

On the evolution of his role at Mithun
I joined Mithun initially for a six month internship while I was completing my last year of undergraduate studies. I became aware of Mithun after I had seen Bert Gregory, then Mithun’s CEO and the current Chairman, give a presentation on the recently (at the time) completed REI Seattle Flagship Store project. The firm’s deep commitment to sustainability, integrated design and beautiful architecture resonated with me. After my internship, I went back for graduate school, then upon completing school, took a week off and returned to Mithun. That was nearly 15 years and hundreds of projects ago!

My approach to architecture has certainly evolved since joining Mithun. I listen more (and talk less). I fully appreciate the responsibility of design with a purpose, for positive change. I have a more inclusive approach towards design and completely embrace the complex collaborative process.

On principles Mithun strives to adhere to
At Mithun, the overarching principle we strive to adhere to is, “Design for Positive Change.” We are a design firm, and our design has purpose — to create positive change in people’s lives. I find the simplicity and ambition of this principle to have a profound impact on our work and approach.

‘200 Occidental’ (Photograph by MIR, Design by Mithun)

On his role at Mithun
At Mithun, as a Partner and the Director of Digital Design I lead the firm-wide integration of design technology into the design process, help guide Mithun R+D and also work as a designer mainly on conceptual design for a variety of projects and project types. I am also responsible for much of our recruiting efforts of recent graduates and summer interns. I am fortunate, as I am allowed to focus on two things I am passionate about; design and technology.

I work to provide designers across all disciplines with the best technology available to produce meaningful and beautiful work. I am particularly interested in crafting the design process to take full advantage of the opportunities created by emerging and existing technologies. I believe that design technology should be integrated in a manner that enables an intelligent process and fluid design EXPLORATION as opposed to design EXPLANATION. Providing designers and project teams with tools enabling rapid design exploration enables our teams to work efficiently, make better decisions and communicate with clients and stakeholders in a visually understandable way. Our project teams and clients also have fun incorporating new tools and methods of working!

On recent projects that represent Mithun’s unique approach
I do feel that Mithun has a unique approach to design. Every process begins with listening. We design experiences, not objects and we believe each design is different, because each client and each site is different. We are inspired by urban and natural systems and beauty grows from richly integrated solutions.

Our work is inspired and formed by; 1. an alert sense for the needs and experience of the user, 2. a culture of constant curiosity and discovery, 3. a spirit of optimism and promise, 4. an abiding responsibility to our clients, community and environment, and 5. the patterns of nature, the vision of an organization and the soul of a city.

We focus our efforts where we can make the greatest impact on people’s lives; where they live, work and learn.

A few recent projects that stand out as representatives to this approach are The Sustainability Treehouse and Weyerhaeuser Headquarters at 200 Occidental. For The Sustainability Treehouse, the building form emerges entirely from the experience. Dynamic educational spaces designed for exploration of the site and ecosystem at the ground, tree canopy and sky are elevated within the towering corten steel frame. The experience captures the wonder of childhood exploration, placing environmental education at the forefront of meaningful experiences for thousands of annual visitors to take home, positively changed. With Weyerhaeuser Headquarters at 200 Occidental, our design approach intentionally honors the neighborhood’s existing architecture while enhancing the contextual character with a modern, deep green interpretation. This design response would only be appropriate for this project, on this site, for this client. The Novelty Hill Januik Winery is another example of beauty growing from richly integrated solutions as landscape and interior space work in harmony to elevate the human experience.

‘The Sustainability Treehouse’ (Photograph by Joe Fletcher courtesy of Mithun)

On his design toolkit
3D modeling plays an important role in our process. We made an intentional, and at the time challenging, decision about eight years ago to transition all projects and disciplines to a BIM workflow, specifically Revit. We had done a few projects using Revit and understood the enormous potential for a more intelligent process. At the time, we were typically building 3D models for all projects in Sketchup, AutoCAD and / or 3ds Max concurrently with the production of 2D construction documents in AutoCAD. The parallel processes were highly inefficient and not aligned with a real-time decision making process. The use of BIM allowed for all designers to collaboratively share in the creation and exploration of a 3D model, and concurrently produce the construction documents. Today, we categorize and focus our 3D modeling software / processes into three primary categories; BIM, analysis and visualization.

For the development of the BIM, nearly all of our staff is highly proficient in the use of Revit as both a design and documentation tool. Architects, landscape architects and interior designers all work within Revit, collaborating on the BIM in real-time, beginning in the conceptual phase of design. Regarding initial form generation and massing we use a variety of tools, most notably Revit, Dynamo, Sketchup and 3ds Max. For example, The Sustainability Treehouse Revit model was started on day one of design, as we were participating in a two-week design charrette with the entire project team (client, consultants, contractor) in West Virginia. This allowed us to immediately visualize and begin to communicate and study a complex structure and site. As much as possible, everything we do is linked together in a dynamic way, regardless of the program it was constructed with. We also still use pens, trace and cardboard!

For analysis, we have implemented Sefaira into the conceptual and schematic design process to help us understand the relative effectiveness of our decisions and use as a comparative analysis tool. We use the data from Sefaira to help us understand the relative performance of our design options and make more informed decisions as we move towards a design solution. One primary benefit of Sefaira is the ability to dynamically link the Sefaira “model” to our Revit design model and see the updated analysis in real-time.

For visualization, we primarily use 3ds Max / VRay and Lumion. We began using Lumion upon the initial release and have since integrated it fully into our digital design process and trained almost all designers at Mithun. The WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) approach is an important part of our process as it allows the design team to focus their efforts almost exclusively on the development of design. This allows for a more efficient allocation of our resources towards the design effort, and ultimately we can do better work. We believe in the benefit of a real-time collaborative design process with our clients and project teams, and Lumion enables this in a significant way. We aim to present “live” in real-time whenever possible. For Weyerhaeuser Headquarters at 200 Occidental, real-time use of the Lumion model was used extensively and at times exclusively throughout the City review process. We also employ Virtual Reality (VR), currently using the Samsung GearVR combined with both 3ds Max / VRay and Lumion. Experiencing design from the human perspective is an invaluable tool in making more informed decisions. We are in the process of implementing full VR into our process.

On the state of design software today
I am optimistic about the state of design software today, as it is generally developing rapidly. We currently use a lot of different software, each with a specific purpose within our design process. The current challenge is interoperability and the relative inefficiency of distinct workflows and processes, especially when they lack connectedness. I am most encouraged by the rapid advancement of virtual and augmented reality platforms, positioned to radically disrupt the design process in the near future. The “holy grail”, of course, would be to dissolve our three categories into one where we would be able to simultaneously connect the BIM, analysis and visualization, in real-time.

On the future of architecture in the next 5–10 years
Projects will continue to increase in complexity and necessitate even greater levels of collaboration and intentional inter-connectedness across disciplines and expertise. We will continue to build upon our understanding and research into the connections between the built environment and human health. From a design technology perspective, augmented and virtual reality will transform not only how we share our work, but HOW we work. BIM will continue to evolve towards a fully integrated and coordinated design + construction + FM model. Also, BIM will be as much of a documentation platform as it is a social platform. Project teams will collaborate in a real-time virtual world. For the next generation of designers, the ability to write code and participate in a virtual process for extended periods of time may likely be equally as important as the ability to draw.

‘Novelty Hill Januik Winery’ (Photograph by Benjamin Benschneider courtesy of Mithun)

On the future of Mithun in the next 5–10 years
We are committed to design’s ability to anticipate and address the challenges of the future.

Mithun will continue to embrace the integration of technology into the design process, helping us effectively address these challenges. We will actively recruit a next generation of designers, eager to participate in a design process much different than what we would recognize today. We will need to remain nimble and continually willing to redefine our process, expectations and roles.

On advice he would give his younger self
Looking back, I have invested an enormous amount of my life and career into design technology and architecture. Working on projects like the Sustainability Treehouse, where I have seen the real positive change in people’s everyday lives, is extremely satisfying and humbling. The effectiveness of our real-time model during the conceptual design phase generated much of the momentum and excitement that was instrumental in the project being realized. Our ability to do that real-time work as a part of the design process was built upon years of development, passion and commitment to doing meaningful work. I would simply tell myself two things. It’s worth it. Because, it matters.

Modelo partners with gooood

Modelo’s Partners with gooood

Modelo has partnered with China’s premier architecture, landscape and design community platform!

If you’re not familiar with GOOOOD already, check it out! It’s an incredibly active content platform for the design, architecture and arts communities worldwide! With over 1,000,000 loyal readers it serves as a forum, jobs board, events calendar and hosts interviews with up and coming and established practitioners across the disciplines. This is where Modelo’s collaboration with GOOOOD starts.

We are proud to announce that GOOOOD will now be the exclusive publisher of our Design Manifestos series. This expands Modelo’s reach into new audiences worldwide, and provides GOOOOD’s readers with new in-depth content about some of the world’s greatest architects and designers!

For all of the native Chinese readers already following Design Manifestos you will be pleased to learn that the full library of interviews are now being translated to Chinese for publication on GOOOOD. We’re working through the translations of our 60+ interviews now, which you can check out here.

We’ve got a lot more in store for our collaboration with GOOOOD so stay posted!

100 Design Manifesto Interviews Completed and Updated at Modelo Blog Series

100 Design Manifesto Interviews Completed and Updated at Modelo Blog Series

We’ve reached a milestone… 100 Design Manifestos interviews! Check out the infographic below to see what we’ve learned along the way.

We’ve enjoyed forming a community of inspiring individuals. Our goal for the next 100 Design Manifestos is to add more diversity to our series by interviewing more women and minorities.

Thank you so much to those who have participated and made this possible. We’re always looking for more people to join the conversation. Here’s to the next 100 Design Manifestos!

Pioneers in Computational Design | Modelo Blog Series

Pioneers in Computational Design

The weeklong ACADIA conference was four days underway and hundreds were gathered at the 21C Museum Hotel in Cincinnati, Ohio to convene on “Design in the Anthropocene.” Researchers, architects, students and educators were in attendance all to learn about the latest bleeding-edge research of their colleagues in computational design.

With an emphasis on today’s rapidly evolving environment it was fitting when on Saturday, ACADIA president Michael Fox took the stage to introduce these three men who pioneered the entire field of computational design. “I wanted to gather the original pioneers and founders of this organization to hear their thoughts about the industry today,” Fox said. He added that his goal for the event was not only to report on the annual status of the organization but to use it as a way to, “Lead the pack and pioneer as these gentlemen did.”

The presentation chaired by Robert Aish, visiting professor of computational design at the Bartlett School of Architecture and researcher at Autodesk, featured three pioneers with storied careers and contributions to the field: Chuck Eastman – Founder of ACADIA, and director of the Research Lab at Georgia Tech University, Tom Maver – Research Professor at the Glasgow School of Art and founder of eCAADe and CAADfutures, and Don Greenberg – Professor of Computer Graphics at Cornell University.

Pioneers of Design Computation: Chuck Eastman, Tom Maver, and Don Greenberg 

Presenting in sequence, Tom Maver began by stating his primary interest from the very beginning “wasn’t computers at all but how we as humans tackle complex decision making and the outcomes that result from it.” He reinforced this idea by describing his early desire to find ways to include the public and users of buildings in the architectural design process at the beginning of projects. He explained that with “prototypes for small consumer products you can create them physically and expose to the public, but this does not work with buildings.”

Maver sought to use computers to bring new stakeholders into the design process earlier. But as he explained, computers were not quite there yet. Maver joked, “We were still using punchcards, when we weren’t using them to roll our cigarettes.” The graphic output button tried to model a floorplan using a line printer.

Despite the limitations, Maver and his colleagues pushed the technology to its limits, at first experimenting with line printers to produce floorplans using blocks of letters to denote different rooms. They used the PDP7 and the first graphics terminal (the 4010 by Techntronics) to draw lines on the terminal’s direct view storage tube. However, lacking erase and undo functions now taken for granted as a universal standard in computing, making minor changes was a more painful experience. Maver explained “If you wanted to change a line you had to eradicate an entire drawing from the computer and redraw it.” But that was the beginning of computer graphics and the industry quickly began to evolve following Moore’s law.

Following Maver’s presentation, Chuck Eastman took the stage. As the founder and first president of ACADIA he took a challenging position on the state of the architecture industry and its use of CAD and BIM technologies as collaborative design and coordination tools. “I did a lot of questioning and had concern about BIM, which I’ve been involved in since the 70s. I thought it was an opportunity for architects to gain more power and control over what was built. I’ve been very disappointed in that neither architecture firms nor schools are really using it for both design and fabrication.”

He went on to say that after 30 years of primarily using autocad the industry is finally beginning to make a change, but it still hasn’t really happened yet. Reflecting back to the very first founding meeting of ACADIA, he indicated that the naming of the organization in and of itself was telling, “We had a discussion meeting – an internal debate at the founding meeting – ACADIA? or ACADIA-e for engineering. I’ve been disappointed as I said that there hasn’t been more collaboration with software between architecture and engineering and I guess I voted for the wrong decision which was that we didn’t include the ‘e’.”

Don Greenberg closed out the presentation with a third talk titled: From Then to Now and Beyond. He began by honing in on Moore’s law saying half-jokingly that Moore’s law was the “11th commandment of life. It wasn’t carved into the stone tablet but you should believe it.” Recounting that in 1965 his team paid $32,000 for 16k of core memory, he went on to explain that following Moore’s Law, which states, “The number of transistors incorporated in a chip will approximately double every 24 months,” there has been a two billion factor advance in chip capacity from ‘65 to today. In other words – paying the same price as you did in 1965 you could now buy a chip two billion times more powerful.

With this information in mind Greenberg questioned, “How do you start something and consider that it is going to increase by this amount? How do you convince a profession that this is what you need to do next?” Extrapolating on Moore’s law he explained, there will be another 100x increase in processing power in the next decade. “Why aren’t we thinking bigger? Why can’t we convince architects to do more than they’ve done in the past?” This questioning drew loud applause from the audience. He went on to describe his vision for the future which includes digital drafting boards, a more streamlined and interconnected design process from sketch to spline, to model, to BIM, ending with energy analysis.

Completing his portion of the presentation, Greenberg ended with two final statements that left the audience something to contemplate. In regard to the less-than-perfect CAD tools available he challenged the audience, stating, “I spent my life as a toolmaker. The architecture field is much to blame because they never put their creative input into what they want. That’s why you’re stuck with what you have now.” He tempered this commentary with an encouragement: “Have the courage to stick your neck out when people don’t believe what’s going to happen in the future. We wish you good luck.”

In summary the presentation gave the audience much to consider. It was a fond reflection of the past, recounting how much ground has been covered technologically over the past fifty years. It also held notes of disappointment as the three questioned what could have been, had industry been more receptive to the collaborative capabilities the technology they helped create offered to the architecture and engineering industries. If a standing ovation is any indicator of success, the three presenters challenged and inspired the audience to do just that. Ultimately, it was a thoughtful, at times funny and overall inspiring presentation, that drew a standing ovation from the entire audience in the hall.


Acknowledging Modelo’s new partners outsude with appreciation

Taking partnerships to the third dimension!

New partnerships mean new opportunities, new ways of working, and new possibilities for growth.

Collaboration with outside partners and real users of diverse backgrounds allows us to improve the Modelo platform and test new features, getting invaluable feedback in return.

Needless to say, a certain special bond forms over time and we can’t help but express our most sincere gratitude for the partners that have been helping us develop and improve the platform!

Let’s give them a quick shout out of appreciation:

Rafael Viñoly Associates – RVA is using Modelo across a number of teams to collaborate between leads and architects, review work, give feedback and prepare client-ready collaterals.

Aamodt/Plumb – as one of our earliest users, A/P has been using Modelo to improve their client communication and presentation toolset.

Carnegie Mellon University – students and professors are using Modelo’s to facilitate turning in assignments, giving feedback, and showcasing work.

UNBUILT Miami – the winning architecture & design team at Harvard Graduate School of Design was featured as the designers of the entrance pavilion at Design Miami’s official entranceway. The team used Modelo’s embed feature to power the website showcasing their experimental work.

Archilier – our newest partner for 2016, Archilier will be deploying the platform to their team to improve storage, communication cross-team management.

If you’re interested in becoming an early collaborator or trying Modelo in your studio, shoot as an email and we can set up a call or demo:

Design Manifestos: Richard Riveire of Rottet Studio | Modelo Blog Series

Design Manifestos: Richard Riveire of Rottet Studio

Richard Riveire is a design professional with more than 30 years of experience shaping modern hospitality and corporate interior environments. With long-time partner Lauren Rottet, he has built one of the most respected interior architecture firms in the world. As Principal, Richard leads the West Coast and Asia practices of Rottet Studio. He approaches projects with a deep understanding of the process of creating workplace and hospitality environments that visually reflect the culture and brand of the client. He has been responsible for a number of high profile projects including the headquarters for United Talent Agency and two new Presidential Bungalows at the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel. Modelo spent some time talking with Richard and learning about his role at Rottet Studio and about his predictions for the future of the industry.

On becoming an architect and design professional
My father was in construction so I was exposed to building at a very young age. Seeing the contractor’s profession up close as a child I was always intrigued by the creation of new spaces. As I got older that fascination got deeper as I also began to see how design allowed for the expression of creativity through your work. Amusement parks were one of my early obsessions; immersing myself in an entire world, created entirely through design, was endlessly interesting.

Viking Star (Image courtesy of Rottet Studio)

On discovering his voice as an architectural designer
I think a lot of finding my own voice early on came from studying some of my favorites from early 20th century architectural history: certainly the complete approach to design that came out of the Beaux Arts: Pierre Chareau and his integration of art and craft with the new industrial capabilities all the way through to Andrée Putman who refined that concept to it’s ultimate expression. Travel and exposure to the world has been a huge personal influence on my work. Looking at how architecture is made and spaces evolve in widely separated parts of the world is fascinating, so much is the same while expressions are infinitely varied. Especially interesting is the treatment of materials, I love the honest approach to woodworking in Southeast Asia as an example and the use of stone throughout India.

On joining Rottet Studio
Lauren and I have worked together since college. I owe a lot of where my career has developed to Lauren and her clean and beautiful vision of the world. She is an aspirational mentor, setting ideals and philosophy without restrictions of style; that is an amazing achievement. Into my third decade of work, I like to think that I have matured in execution, but kept my late modernist roots.

On specific principles he strives to adhere to
We tend to want to understand the very heart of the problem and start the design from there. This is extraordinarily difficult, often clients can’t express who they are architecturally they don’t have the language. Or, they don’t see architecture’s ability to affect their business goals. You have to listen carefully to what they are NOT saying and find the real problem. From a stylistic point of view, I am a firm believer in clean and clear simple solutions to the problem. Nothing dooms a design more than arbitrary, unrelated elements. This starts with planning, almost always, highly reductive, simple and organized planning is going to ultimately lead to the strongest design. Ditto for wall treatments, furnishings, etc. But at the end of the day, I always leave room for the surprise element, the unexpected. I like humor in architecture, we tend to take ourselves very seriously.

On his role at Rottet Studio
I focus on leading the design and marketing efforts for the Los Angeles office of Rottet Studio. What that really means is guiding and mentoring a large staff. We are fortunate to have a staff that has been with us for a long time and it is very gratifying to see them grow and mature in their individual talents. I hope that I am able to help them see where they can go.

Disney LA (Image courtesy of Rottet Studio)

On recent projects that represent the firm’s unique approach 
Some of the recent projects that stand out for me are the offices for United Talent Agency in Beverly Hills, the renovation of the Team Disney Building at The Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank and the design of the interiors for the new ocean cruise ships for Viking Cruises. These are three very different projects yet reflect things that we have been thinking about: all rely on seemingly simple solutions and “modern” design, but for wildly different audiences.

UTA is one of the largest talent agencies in world and the Team Disney building is the headquarters for The Walt Disney Company. UTA is a new build project in an older building in Beverly Hills, while the Team Disney building is a (substantial) renovation of the Michael Graves designed building on the lot in Burbank. UTA required a space that reflected all of the power and prestige of a firm that negotiates as a fundamental part of their work, while the Disney space was designed specifically as offices for their live action film group and worldwide marketing teams. In short, true corporate space versus creative office space. Communication and openness is the key to both. UTA needed to build a common culture in a rapidly expanding firm. Agents needed to see and talk to each other and to understand and be a part of the common ethos of the firm. The planning of the firm emphasized clear “salons” (to bring down the large scale of the space), but every space connected to common galleries and a large interconnecting stair. The Disney space was classic, neo-classical/post-modern Michael Graves space: a sequence of rooms and vestibules throughout, and a lot of closed offices with workstations crammed in the interior. Our solution there was to open the space up completely to a modern interior, but to retain “fragments” of Graves detailing a la a modern loft apartment in a pre-war building in Manhattan. The openness and clarity in both cases made the spaces seem larger as everyone has access to natural light, and the detailing and choices of materials created the image appropriate to each.

Image was incredibly important to UTA in particular. Talent Agencies in the “new” Hollywood not only represent actors, directors, writers, etc., but also play a large role in pulling together the right scripts, casts and directors into a project that can get financing. Very corporate, very high end and all about projecting power. On the other hand, it is also an entertainment business where creativity is prized. We took cues from our hospitality practice to also make it “talent friendly” — furnishings and rugs are almost residential in character while the architecture is fairly pure and minimal. Layered over everything was their spectacular art collection, providing an ambience that is comfortable to a wide variety of audiences.

Viking Cruises is the client that many architects dream about: A new and rapidly expanding organization looking for an appropriate image. We have worked on several projects, starting with their “Longships,” river cruise ships that sail waterways throughout Europe. These ships allowed us time to start thinking about Viking’s fundamental visual character. The ocean ships project is a full realization of that work. A clean slate to begin with, no new ocean cruise lines have been developed in the last 25 years and the existing firms all have established identities, For Viking to be successful, they needed to provide not only a product that appeals in terms itineraries, service, food, etc. but a new “look” as well. Something that distinguished them from the “old way of cruising.”

From a design standpoint, this is not a typical hotel project; these ships will travel throughout the world, there is no “place” to take visual cues. The views out your window may be Venice, Italy one day and the hill towns of Montenegro the next. The interior design had to have its own character both strong enough to represent Viking as a new player and yet respectful of some of the most iconic places on Earth. We took cues from the Norwegian ownership of the line and looked to modern Scandinavia, the original homelands of the Vikings for culture and attitude. While strictly speaking not “Scandinavian Modern,” the design and image reflect the modernist sensibilities of Scandinavia coupled with the warmth and craft of early Norway. As with the previous projects, the fundamental approach of simple design, clear planning and careful execution of a tailored image are key.

It has proven to be a wildly successful concept. The press has been enthusiastic with major awards and bookings are relatively sold out for the first several years of operation. The line has launched three new cruise ships, under construction with a fourth and has committed to as many as four more.

On his design toolkit
I really like to use SketchUp. It is a quick and easy way to design in 3D. Fundamentally, we have an architectural approach to design, thinking carefully about the sequencing and proportions of spaces, not just decorating walls, and a modeling program is a great too for that. I also still like to draw by hand, I think that tracing through the design on a sheet of paper, drawing over and over a plan or elevation gives you time to think through what you are doing and why you are doing it.

On the state of design software today
I’m excited that more and more applications are coming available on the iPad. Working on mobile devices is something I’m sure we’ll all be doing a lot more of in the years to come. The ability to sketch and communicate that image immediately from a plane or the fjords of Norway is exciting. What I would like to see is a greater ability to collaborate over a design. How can we make it convenient and practical for several people to digitally model a space all at the same time?

UTA LA (Image courtesy of Rottet Studio)

On the future of architecture in the next 5–10 years
There has been a growing trend towards true Modernism and away from sentimentality and historicism which is really exciting for me.

Firms will have to become more multi-disciplinary and multi-project oriented. Design is design and specializing in one particular area over another seems to be going by the wayside. We have deliberately focused on corporate work, hospitality work and residential work; three areas of practice that have traditionally come from firms dedicated to a single area. As well, we have ventured into marine work and gaming, both also fairly singular in their markets. This gives us a stronger position as a business, but strengthens your design skills as well. We are never bored!

On the future of the firm in 5–10 years
I feel that Rottet Studio has been embracing these changes looking for connections between previously disconnected practices and finding new and inspiring intersections to explore.

On advice he would give himself
Look at more stuff faster. Travel more. See the world and look at things that are not your core interest, you can learn a lot about architecture looking at the old spice markets in Bangkok.

Modelo was proud to announce its new partnership with Pitcrit

Design Miami/ Winning Pavilion Team: UNBUILT

Design Miami/ Winning Pavilion Team: UNBUILT

We are proud to announce that Modelo is the official 3D visualization technology provider for the winning team of Design Miami’s pavilion competition. Congratulations to the UNBUILT team, a group of five talented Harvard GSD students pictured below with the pavilion. 

Design Miami/ is the global forum for design that takes place annually in the welcoming, vibrant, and warm Floridian city of Miami. The forum brings together designers, critics and collectors, among others who are interested in art, fashion, and architecture. Each year, Design Miami/ commissions an architecture firm to design the entrance pavilion. But this year was a bit different. Instead of selecting a young professional firm for the commission, a group of university students competed for the honor. In a field of 32 competing Harvard Graduate School of Design teams, the winning team pavilion entry is “UNBUILT”! The team is comprised of five MArch 1 students: Joanne Cheung, Yiliu Shen-Burke, Jenny Shen, Steven Meyer, and Doug Harsevoort (pictured above). This design competition provided the students with a real life example of the design build process and resulted in the participation from members throughout the GSD community, due to its collaborative nature.

The UNBUILT team used pink foam to recreate 198 physical models from submissions from the GSD student body and implemented new 3D visualization technology from Modelo to enable easy digital access to every model through its website The title of the pavilion signifies that the models, each with its own unique design merits will ultimately be limited to model form, going unconstructed at a larger scale. The pink foam gives the project a bit of a whimsical feel allowing the school to have free will and to not take themselves too seriously. Still, the project took months of hard work and coordination with dozens of designers, collaborators and departments. The GSD put together a preview of the process in the following video.

Jenny Shen comments, “It’s fun to make a model and send them [the creators] a photo and they see this funny pink version of something they’ve worked on for a long time. It’s very gratifying to work with such a huge number of the community.”

Aside from being representations of past designs from GSD students, faculty, and practitioners that never had the chance to be created the team felt that together these models represent something bigger: a reflection of the culture of the GSD, a learning institution for all. The team’s idea was to be inclusive in its submission as opposed to picking one form and sticking to it on the site. 

“It was important for us to create this platform where you submit what you want to submit,” Steven told us. This was the foundation of the UNBUILT design pavilion project.

Visitors to the conference quickly learn that not everything from afar looks the same up close. From a distance, the pavilion might look like a pink field or cloud, but when you get up close you realize that every single particle has its own universe. The design had to function as a pavilion, which meant providing some amount of shade and an indication of entry way. Why pink foam? Foam takes up space and is malleable; the color pink mirrors the Miami culture and adds pop sensibility. The team’s focus was on creating a story and involving many characters in that story. UNBUILT takes something familiar that makes sense and speaks to architecture, but also speaks to a wider audience. When visitors are inside the pavilion, it’s experienced as an upside-down city; the words ‘invisible city’ were present from the very beginning for the team. The pavilion consists of a canopy of models, which provides shade and gathering space for visitors and a different perspective, since the sky is always the background for these pink 3D models.

“All of these models are proposals for things that could be made but may never exist. When you’re inside the pavilion, the hypothetical city mirrors the real city below. We like that duality,” Joanne Cheung explains.

The team hopes to create a dialogue of design and demonstrate how that plays into architecture and the consumers of architecture, more so than another version of the pavilion. Yiliu mentions, “I would like to think as well that people realized our statement is more than just that the ‘GSD makes a lot of models.’ But that there’s something deeper about the process of creating something without the intention necessarily of realizing it at full scale, but about understanding the process, understanding what you have to gain from the process.”

M-004 By Jorge San Martin Modelo »

Modelo’s role 

Modelo met with the UNBUILT team for an interview the same day that the 198 pink models were loaded onto a truck and driven to Miami. With a great sense of excitement and relief the team reflected on the overall experience and discussed their hopes for the digital representation of the models. Beyond the physical models actually creating the pavilion, the team also wanted to give visitors the opportunity to experience each model in-depth digitally with information about the designer and the form. Modelo’s 3D visualization platform supplies the technology needed for this presentation through the web browser. Visitors attending Design Miami/ are able to access the models in 3D throughout the conference and after via the UNBUILT team’s website.

During our discussion Doug pointed out that this digital experience allows visitors to connect with UNBUILT and all 198 models on a deeper level, “Even if you only ever go to one of those project pages, the realization that there are 198 projects around you that have that same level of detail and someone has thought about them to that level of detail is an added dimension to the project that we think is super valuable.”

We are incredibly excited to see the UNBUILT team utilizing Modelo’s embeddable 3D visualization technology, and we’re looking forward to providing architects and designers with 3D presentation tools through our platform. Modelo is now in private beta. For early access, you can sign up here!


Here are some more models from the UNBUILT pavilion for you to view.
(Click and drag to rotate, scroll up and down to zoom in and out)


M-157 By Xuanyi Nie Modelo »

M-094 By John Going Modelo »

M-021 By Ron Henderson Modelo »

M-154 By Weiss/Manfredi + Olin Modelo »

M:029 By Xuanyi Nie Modelo »