Monday, September 12th, 2011

STAR Constellations

STAR Constellations: Sensors for a Tangible Ambient Research



STAR constellations has emerged from an interest in materials. Projecting toward the not-so-distant year 2048, this project situates itself in a future in which the design of space can be approached through the design of material specifications. Through the design of a new material building block, STAR constellations seeks to create communication channels that cross physical, spatial, and cognitive boundaries, generating a multitude of ways to store and access information, and producing spaces that are alive and capable of adapting to environmental change.

The RPI Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies acts as the prototypical site and program for the project. The collaborative nature of the Biotechnology Center serves as a testing grounds for a material intervention the seeks to foster communication between disciplines, bridge language barriers between different libraries of content, and reassess how ‘waste’ within a research environment can become a vital resource.

The realization of this material intervention takes the form of STARs. While STARs forward an object oriented research by allowing data to be filtered and manipulated through researchers’ hands-on interaction, their true power is in their communication properties. Connected and contributing to a vast archive of biotechnology research, STARs absorb and cross-reference many different information structures to allow unlike data types to speak to each other. Opening conversations between these data types allows unforeseen relationships to emerge and act as a catalyst for future discoveries.

While working together to collect information and data mine resources effectively requires the STARs to have refined internal communication abilities, equally important is their ability to communicate with researchers in the Biotechnology Center. To address this issue, STARs rely on formation, alternately assembling temporary furniture for scientists to use, ornaments for scientists view, and tools for scientists to manipulate. To test the broad range of potentials of such a material, the STAR bodies were designed and tested in three scenarios.



Download Final Boards



The scenarios explored through the STAR constellations are three of many possible futures that could emerge from a material intervention that incorporates near human intelligence. For this reason the specific configurations of each scenario fades in importance in comparison to the questions they ask about the role of the designer in spaces formed by living and intelligent materials.

My early research into emerging material technologies as well as the process of self-assembly revealed that the current vision of the potential of material engineering on the nanoscale positions the designer to have infinitely higher degrees of accuracy over the resulting space. Testing the STAR constellations against possible scenarios has led me to believe that designers are facing a very different but much more powerful range of potential than what has been, up until this point, imagined. To some, STARs degrade the role of the designer because the type of innate intelligence I am proposing to be built into materials actually requires designers to willingly forfeit control over specific formalisms and geometries. However, as the scenarios illustrate, the highest level of performance in the research spaces emerges from the internal logics of the STARs rather than from their controlled use by the scientists strictly as a tangible interface.

Engineering materials on the nanoscale shifts the design process away from aesthetic concerns by distributing our own human intelligence through a material matrix. The design of the STAR demonstrates that loosening our grip on specific spatial configurations allows issues of performance, social connectivity, and sustainability to be the primary concerns. The communication properties and native behaviors that are most critical in the Biotechnology Center are designed into the fabric of the STAR. The result is a highly adaptive and flexible research environment that intentionally shifts the way researchers work in and occupy space in order to meet the performance criteria designed into their genetic structure. The STARs predict a future in which materials rival the intelligence of the people who designed them.

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Esther Kang _ Final Presentation

Esther Kang _ Final Presentation
Hyper Visual Cones : The Immersive Museum


My thesis focuses on reconfiguring the museum structure through the use of augmented and virtual reality to create an immersive experience specifically in the MET museum. The museum and visitor are able to communicate with each other in real time by allowing the visitor to customize and plan their visit according to the level of immersion they wish to experience. The museum provides content and various learning objectives, and a visitor is able to input their data and feedback back into the museum.


Monday, May 9th, 2011

Guillot_Final Presentation

Final Review Presentation_Rachel Guillot

CAPS ˑ UL : A Mobile University

[Consortium of Academic Performative Stances ˑUniversidad Latinoamerica]


LatinAmerica, once a primarily rural region has become predominately urban due to population growth.  The agriculture dominated 2011 economy has been disrupted due to the urban expansion.  People once living on farmland have moved to the cities to find work.  These people inhabit the informal settlements where there is a lack of connection to transportation networks, services, and educational centers.

An increasing need for universities to communicate with the periphery in local urban networks has led to the creation of a consortium by the universities in Guatemala City that allows them to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and become moderators of a network based on informal knowledge and economies.

This consortium calls for an organism to be created that becomes the binding factor between universities and the city.  The new classroom typology prototype designed for 2048, the CAPSˑUL, is an extension of the universities and becomes the interface through which the periphery communicates.


Monday, March 21st, 2011

Scenario and Scales


In the year 2048, the world will constantly look forward into the future and to derive ideas to better it, however the preservation of history is significant and this is where the maintenance of museums is important. Museums will evolve to become community centers, a social gathering space, to encourage society to visit the museums frequently. The merging of education and entertainment creates a suitable environment that assists in a variety of activities for all age groups. The use of digitalization and advanced virtual structures give a number of immersive experiences to allow visitors to fully participate and potentially transform the museum space through their use as well as spreading data and feedback at a fast pace. Museums will continue to be a destination place and become a haven to escape from reality and step into the virtual environment full of history and knowledge.



Pod interfaces contained in the museum:

–       connected through wireless networking
–       projections / holograms / 3D
–       recreating existing environment / new virtual worlds
–       interchangeable and modified
–       obtain data (pictures, holographs, writing, physical objects) from defined periods of the past
–       digitally stored and processed
–       show how to view artifacts / instructional
–       expanding internal structure over time / extend out of the physical space

Outside networks connecting virtual museums:

–       mediator / access points
–       virtual tourism
–       inhabit cyberspace
–       create community to connect the architecture / museum
–       traveling museums
–       local? Global?
–       Partnership with schools and universities
–       Merged educational experience


What sort of environment will the museum evolve into in the year 2048 and how to design a space to encourage people to come to the museum?

Advancing Technology:

–       digital equipment and tools
–       virtual worlds (extension of physical space)
–       augmented reality perfected
–       virtual museum at remote locations (dispersed around the world)
–       able to transform museum place by visitor’s use
–       exhibit a larger amount of objects in a limited space

Experience Realms:

–       degree of participation from passive to more active (intersection of immersive and passive)
–       intersection of active and absorbing (educational)
–       absorption to immersion (connection of the visitor to the experience)
–       spatial – immersive environment
–       consume and contribute

Economic Issues:

–       popular destination and landmark
–       or no longer need to make trip to museum (use computers/technology-on-hand to view exhibitions/artifacts – Google Art Project)
–       community centers
–       merge entertainment, education, aesthetics, escapism
–       shapes the national and cultural aspects of the environment
–       instrument of urban understanding and urban change

Urban Relationship:

–       cultural tourism spot
–       memorialization
–       symbolism
–       agents of change both social and economic

Sunday, March 20th, 2011


An object oriented research process addresses the issues of working with digitized data, namely formatting information in such a way that significant linkages and cause / effect relationships between content sets may be observed easily by researchers. This effectively sets up two functional levels:

-a generic object with a universal interface
-objects may connect with machines (imaging, analysis, etc.); tools (pen, knife, microscope); furniture (table, chair); people?
-objects collect and store information, learning procedures and patterns over time
-objects interface with other objects, sharing harvested information, self arranging into significant patters
-think of each object as a suction cup on the arm of an octopus

-object size is of proportion of human hand — easy to manipulate
-objects require a field/environment that allows them to combine. humans require an interface to interpret the meaning of object combinations
-an info surface powers self combination of objects and provides researchers with a platform to experiment with combination / proximity / intensity / density of objects
-think of the surface as the body nervous system of the octopus

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

Narrative Outline


Local vs. Global

+Global information is critical to the creation of the local information.  An organism must be devised that accepts the global information and distributes it in conjunction with the local knowledge.

+Development of economy


Guatemala, once a primarily rural country has become predominately urban due to the population growth.  The agriculture dominated 2011 economy has been disrupted due to the urban expansion and those people once living on farmland have moved to the cities to find work.  These people move to the informal settlements where cost of living is at a minimum.  The informal settlements of Guatemala City expand and multiply.  There is a lack of connection through the use of transportation networks, services, and educational centers in the informal networks as well as an overwhelming amount of people so much so that information gets clogged in the system.


Increased interconnectivity and interdependence between cities and countries because of the decreased time for information, goods, and resources to be passed.  The reliance on natural resources is shifting.  It is a critical point where technology and research must change to accommodate alternative systems in order to maintain the world as it is in 2048.  Transnational corporations control the majority of sponsored research and do not support the alternative system thus independent research is essential.


+Parasitic: in terms of growth and its distribution networks as well as the way in which it feeds upon every area of the city’s inhabitants and economy



+Relationship between channel and apparatus


Transportation – public transit and travelers are informal

Pedestrian – informal travelers


Kit of parts?  Existent at nodes and as part of apparatus?

People help move the information by the available assembly of pieces.

Pieces can be composed to become vehicles of transportation?


Hierarchy of nodes?

Each node has a specialization


+In 2048 the concept of time has a new norm.  Everything travels at a much faster pace, information, people, goods, services.  Not only is everything produced faster but everyone demands faster results.  Global information can be obtained at near instantaneous rates and local information has a hard time competing.

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Scenario Building

Question: What will be the most productive work environment/work flow for biotechnology research in the year 2048?

Outline: some forces at play

1. increased interest in biotechnology
– global climate change (finally taken seriously)
– outrun health/economic issues with increased life expectancy
– resource availability with growing population
– closing gap between digital and tangible– looking to self modification in near future

2. governmental pressure
– solve various crises while limiting energy use
– pressure for sustainability
– drive for recyclability / reusability (population growth)

3. technology
– digitization process in full force–
– look for a way of working that has observable causes/effects/reactions/results

4. global
– permeability of digital knowledge fosters a collective global community– decreasing the barriers between physical boundaries
– increased interest in global scientific collaboration, especially in areas relating to global climate and energy consumption

The year 2048 will see the maturity of several emerging crises: global climate change will finally be taken seriously, natural resources will be strained under crippling population growth, questions of ethics and quality of life will be more abundant than ever as nations try to balance budgets with the health and economic issues with supporting a population with increasing life expectancy. With these matters nearing a perilous tipping point, developments in biotechnology offer a beacon of hope for governments across the globe.

While there is an increased governmental interest in biotechnology research as a potential medium to address these global concerns, there is also an immense amount of pressure for research facilities to act as model institutions of sustainability, recyclability, and reusability. Though the prevalence of digitized data effectively dissolves physical barriers between researchers, fosters collective knowledge, and makes the goal of minimal resource waste realistic, researchers mourn the lose of tangibility, dexterity, and intuitive fluidity in their work flow.

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Redundancy in Nature

Redundancy: those extra components of a system that are not strictly necessary for the immediate functioning of the system

Introducing redundancy in archives produces agile systems that can both function at speeds suitable for active daily use, and accelerate to accommodate fluctuations in the future. Thus archives generate a form of education that exists between time and place while redundancy reconnects education to the physicality of the natural world.

Redundancy was explored as it exists in ecological/biological systems, organization culture, and communication. The concepts of these systems were then explored in two case studies: octopus anatomy and the interdisciplinary research of the RPI Biotech building.

Download PDFs here.

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

21st Century Scholar


“I think a lot about the culture of organizations and what I experience today is a de-valuing of teaching – that we are all replaceable parts.  If we standardize the curriculum and all teach to the same syllabus then we will have greater efficiencies.  Maybe so.  But I wish we were not talking about greater efficiencies and instead talking about how to make our students better writers and in doing so, better thinkers.  So it goes……….”-Bill Tierney


Pathfinder’s Progress •October 22, 2010


The main differences amid browsers revolve around three primary issues:

(1) SPEED. Although Firefox takes the longest to load, its average navigation time is the fastest by nearly .6 seconds. Depending on how much time you spend surfing the internet, that can really add up. Let’s suppose you visit on average 70 web pages a week (most of us visit more). A Firefox user might spend two hours less per year visiting the same sites as a Safari user.

(2) FEATURES. Features are the little details that come in handy in a pinch. History, tabs, frequently visited sites, automatic updates, password manager, synchronization, zoom, even spell check. These are the extras that improve (or impede) your experience surfing the web.

(3) LAYOUT. Where the functions are located is a matter of personal preference. All the browsers have customizable features to a certain extent, but basic arrangement templates vary.



Randy Clemens

“The difference now, perhaps, is that the walls between university and community are crumbling. The involvement of university partners in the Promise Neighborhoods initiative is one such example. Academic freedom remains critical, but the professor is one of many engaged in a dialogue about the good of a community. Knowledge production, ceded to multiple stakeholders, is more applied and more egalitarian.”

“[Micheal] Burawoy concludes, “We are arriving, therefore, at a new vision of the public university, one that is publicly accountable, that engages with publics rather than simply with itself. This does not preclude relations with business or the development of incentive structure but subjects them to open discussion, a discussion that includes all the stakeholders, a discussion that recognizes the tradeoffs at stake!” We are, indeed, entering a new age for the university. Public and private partnerships as well as innovative ventures are on the rise. Hopefully, open dialogue will occur during all of these initiatives so that multiple parties within and without the university can work to socially construct a better society.”


Friday, October 1st, 2010

prj 2

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