Cyberspace: escaping flatland: a study of design in the virtual environment

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Architecture is a spatial reality and, as such, should be designed spatially. Traditional methods of two dimensional design offer limited insight to the nature of the built project. By designing a project in three dimensions from its inception, an architect comes closer to the actuality of the building. This thesis addresses the possibilities and realities of three dimensional computer aided design.

Radical changes in computer technology have made interactive three dimensional design possible. Clusters of processing units acting in parallel offer unprecedented flexibility and computing power. New methods of input such as voice and gesture activation are allowing greater flexibility of input. The future of three dimensional computer aided design points to higher resolution displays, holographic imaging, and spatial object manipulation.

The vehicle for this architectural thesis is a computer research facility; The National Institute for Advanced Media. The project addresses the demands that new computer technologies place on architecture. It also offers a direction for designing with these new technologies.

This thesis contains an analysis of the architectural project, a complete description of the architectural process, and a summary of all software packages considered. The Apple Macintosh IIfx was chosen as the hardware platform for this investigation because of its object oriented graphical environment and for its advanced multimedia capabilities.