algorithmic modeling for Rhino

Louisiana State Museum and Sports Hall of Fame

For the better part of two years I worked with Method Design and David Kufferman, PE on the design of the structural steel and connection system used for the cast stone panels in the Louisiana State Museum and Sports Hall of Fame.  The building was designed by Trahan Architects and opened at the end of June, 2013.

As one team of multiple consultants working on the later stages of detail design and systems resolution, our own design process began with the surface geometry we inherited from the architects. This was comprised of a maya-modeled subdivision surface and series of nurbs curves that described the horizontal (bed) and vertical (head) joints that were to define the panel breaks.  We, along with Case, Inc. were hired by Advanced Cast Stone to develop a fully integrated system for managing each of the over 1100 unique cast stone panels.  While Case was also hired to manage the entire BIM development for the project, they were also specifically hired to translate the sub-d surface and joint geometries into individual CNC-mill driver shop tickets for the "thickened" panels.  In addition to designing all of the steel for supporting each panel, we were also charged supplying the precise locations for embedding the anchors that would hold them.  It's fair to say that it was a highly complex and deeply integrated process, particularly for "troublesome" panels that defied the full automation algorithms developed at both Case and Method.

At Method, we executed our work almost exclusively through Rhino + Grasshopper.  Later processes for analysis and final detailing were manged in Robot and SDS/2, respectively.  From the inherited geometries supplied by the design architect, we developed an approach to algorithmically "grow" steel onto the back of the panels (we liked to joke that our work was like a reverse mullet haircut, in that the party was in the front and the business was in the back).  In simple and incomplete terms, a series of scripts were generated that:

  • categorized and sequenced the joints
  • generated simplified panel geometries from intersecting edges
  • analyzed the orientation and internal twisting for each panel
  • assigned particular connection types according to this analysis and other building considerations (there were over 20 unique types applied throughout)
  • developed closely-tracking but minimally-kinked steel beams and columns along these geometries 
  • analyzed load bearing behaviors using Karamba
  • algorithmically instantiated connections between backs of panels and structural steel
  • located anchor points for steel connections
  • exported fully-modeled connection systems to Robot using Geometry Gym for full structural analysis
  • exported all geometries for loading into BIM system for both clash detection and as 3D drawing system used during installation

Along the way, Galapagos was used for some of the trickier and tighter connection locations as well, and many other plug-ins were applied for various reasons, including Weaverbird, [UTO]'s MeshEdit Tools, and Kangaroo.

The following images partly describe ours and some of the construction processes.  Digital images were all produced by Method Design, and construction photos come from the contractors (VCC) and Trahan Architects.


Project Credits 

Project:  Louisiana State Museum and Sports Hall of Fame, Natchitoches, La.  
Client:  State of Louisiana, Office of Facility, Planning & Control  
Architect:  Trahan Architects, New Orleans—Victor F. “Trey” Trahan, III, FAIA (design principal); Brad McWhirter, AIA (project architect); Ed Gaskin, AIA, Mark Hash, Michael McCune, AIA (designers); Sean David, Blake Fisher, Erik Herrmann, David Merlin, Assoc. AIA, Benjamin Rath, Judson Terry (project team) 
Interior Designer:  Lauren Bombet Interiors  
M/E/P/FP Engineer:  Associated Design Group  
Structural Engineer:  LBYD  
Civil Engineer: CSRS  
Geotechnical Engineer:  GeoConsultants  
General Contractor:  VCC  
Landscape Architect:  Reed Hilderbrand Associates  
BIM Manager and Technology Consultant:  Case  
Cast Stone Support Steel Geometry and Detailing:  Method Design  
Cast Stone Support Steel Engineer:  David Kufferman  
Acoustics:  SH Acoustics  
Waterproofing:  Water Management Consultants & Testing  

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Comment by Morteza Karimi on October 14, 2016 at 9:51am

really great to see how modern tools are used in this project. Wondering how things were communicated between architect and contractors.

Comment by HEEN on January 11, 2015 at 9:37pm

Awesome I hope someday I could get that power :P congrats

Comment by Jaime Sanchez-Alvarez on May 13, 2014 at 12:50am

Congratulations to all people working on the project!  This is a great example for those who wonder  what can be done with current design tools like Rhino and Grasshopper, among others ! Also, a great team work.

Comment by Tuan N. Tran on August 9, 2013 at 12:22pm

great work.  thanks for sharing the process images.

Comment by Nick Tyrer on August 9, 2013 at 5:29am

Stunning David! This is one of most beautiful buildings i have seen.

Comment by djordje on August 9, 2013 at 3:41am

Didn't see this earlier. Wonderful project and project explanation.
I wish we would have more of these.

Comment by Ángel Linares on February 15, 2012 at 5:03am

Awesome work there!

Comment by Jonatan Schumacher on January 29, 2012 at 8:28pm

Very nice!

Comment by Jon Mirtschin on January 28, 2012 at 5:17am

Fantastic work David, well done to the entire team involved.  Glad the Geometry Gym tools were helpful in the design process.

Comment by taz on January 27, 2012 at 12:21pm

Nice work!  Getting a project like this built in the US must be a challenge.

I'm curious about your workflow.  How are you providing 3D info to the steel fabricator and precaster?





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