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TEX-FAB Advances Digital Fabrication


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Digital fabrication is part of the curriculum in several architectural schools in Texas, including the University of Houston where work is produced in the Burdette Keeland Design Exploration Center. This project, Cave

of the New Being, is a collaboration by students in the UH College of Architecture’s digital fabrication seminar taught by Andrew Vrana, AIA, and Joe Mappelink.

throughout Texas. In this regard, TEX-FAB seeks to become a model for how a more integrated and collaborative network can facilitate the implementation of digital fabrication into design, manufacturing, and constr uction industry. TEX-FAB was established by Brad Bell, a designer who teaches at UT Arlington’s School of Architecture; Kevin Patrick McClellan, a designer who teaches at UT San Antonio’s College of Architecture; and Andrew Vrana, an architect who teaches at the University of Houston’s College of Architecture. In the fall, TEX-FAB expects to launch an open competition focused on the use of parametric design. The winning entry will result in a small built commission. Also, another series of workshops in Houston is being planned for early next year. Updates on future events are posted at B r a d

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Photo Courtesy Andrew Vrana, AIA

With advancements in parametric design technology and digital fabrication reshaping the way designers think and create, a group of educators from Texas architectural schools have organized to sponsor activities for local professionals and the academic community. TEX-FAB held its inaugural event in February, a four-day symposium that included lectures and workshops. Highlights of the symposium, held Feb. 3-6, included presentations by Axel Paredes, a professor at Universidad Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala City, and Scott Marble, AIA, director of fabrication research at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. In his Feb. 3 lecture, “Design Rules,” Paredes presented work at UT Arlington that illustrated the use of digital fabrication technologies in the local cultural practices of Guatemala and Central America. The following evening’s address by Marble, a principal of Marble + Fairbanks in New York, was part of a co-sponsored lecture with the Dallas Architecture Forum in held Magnolia Theater in Dallas. Marble presented work illustrating how the architectural design process is changing as a result of new technological possibilities. Several aspects of fabri-

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cation – including project delivery and even the transformation of construction document information – were clearly examined through some of the innovative work done by his firm over the past several years. Over the next two days, nearly 100 attendees participated in eight workshops held on the UTA campus. The events were sold out, with participants representing 12 states and six academic institutions. The sessions – taught by leading software developers, designers, and instructors in the field, including Marc Fornes, Andy Payne, Rajaa Issa, Andrew Vrana, and Brad Bell – focused on the use of the NURBS modeling software Rhino. The sessions ranged from an introduction to a more advanced lesson that addressed issues of scripting, paneling, and the new parametric plug-in “Grasshopper.” Participants had a unique opportunity to learn about some of the most exciting developments in digital design process happening today. As a new initiative seeking to create a network between allied Texas designers, academics, and practitioners, TEX-FAB will continue to host future events and activities centered on the application of digital design and fabrication. Of particular interest will be the potential to establish a more intentional dialogue between the light industrial manufacturing sector, professional offices, and academic institutions

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