Shape Machine: From software to practice


Athanassios Economou


2023-09-07 12:30:00


Centergy One Hodges Room

GVU Center Brown Bag Seminar: Shape Machine: From software to practice

Unfortunately, due to technical issues, there is only a partial recording of this event.

What would it mean if we could select any part (shape) of a CAD model and use it to find (⌘F) all its geometrical instances in the model (or other CAD models for that matter) – same size, larger, smaller, rotated, reflected or transformed in some way? What would it mean if we could edit this part and use it to replace (⌘R) all its geometrical instances in the model? Why is that the Find and Replace (⌘F/⌘R) operations that are so essential in Word or Excel have yet to be implemented in CAD? And what would happen if we could seamlessly use these shape-based Find and Replace (⌘F/⌘R) operations in a logical processing framework using states, loops, jumps and conditionals to literally write programming code by drawing shapes? How would this affect our current view of computation and what would it mean for design? The talk discusses the current state of the Shape Machine, a shape-rewrite computational system that features shape-based Find and Replace (⌘F/⌘R) operations for lines and arcs in 2D vector graphics and a logical processing framework including familiar control flow constructs (looping and branching), to allow write programming code by drawing shapes. Shape Machine is developed at the Shape Computation Lab at the Georgia Institute of Technology and currently is integrated within Rhinoceros, a NURBS 2D/3D CAD software. Several applications drawn from architectural design, industrial design, game design, circuit design, mathematics and other fields showcase the potential impact of this new technology in various domains.


Athanassios (Thanos) Economou is a Professor at the School of Architecture in the College of Design and an Adjunct Professor at the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Dr. Economou’s teaching and research are in shape grammars, computational design, computer-aided design, and design theory, with over sixty published papers in these areas. He is the Director of the Shape Computation Lab, a research group that explores how the visual nature of shape can be formally implemented with new technologies to enable new paradigms in CAD, design automation, visual scripting, and creative design. Recent projects include the Shape Machine, a new computational technology that allows shape embedding in CAD systems, funded by Georgia Research Alliance and NSF-iCorps Sites, and the Courtsweb, the most significant visual database on Federal Courthouses, funded by GSA and US.Courts. Design projects from his studios at Georgia Tech have received prestigious awards in international and national architectural competitions. He has been invited to give talks, seminars, and workshops at several universities including MIT, Harvard, TU Vienna, U. Michigan, KAIST, Chiao Tung U Taiwan, Emory, Seoul National U, Cambridge U, Tsinghua U, UCLA, NTUA, U.Thessaly, U.Aegean, among others. Dr. Economou holds a Diploma in Architecture from NTUA, Athens, Greece, an M.Arch from USC, and a PhD in Architecture from UCLA.