Architectural traditionalism, with its emphasis on handwork, drawing and precise modeling, has been slow to turn to computers. But now that the rush has begun, computer visualization is opening new areas for design, community integration and an emerging architectural role in cyberspace's electronic world. In the studio and on the building site, firms of all sizes are finding that ability to use the right computer software has become indispensable for gaining clients and making practices easier to run. A look at the field presents many examples.
With its rounded curves, jagged edges and multiplicity of upthrust geometric shapes, the model for the Walt Disney Concert Hall's addition to the Los Angeles Music Center looks more like a city in the clouds than a complex whose distorted geometric shapes have been plotted on a computer screen. Conceived as an Eiffel Tower for a city without a center by architectural master Frank Gehry, if built as planned the massive structure will add the pizzazz of such elemental modern erections as the Louvre pyramid and the Sydney Opera House to a dully institutional section of downtown Los Angeles (Betsky, 1995, p. 23).
But in October 1995, as massive cost overruns were expected to balloon total project costs from a projected $132 million to $265 million or more, there was doubt about whether the project could, would and should be built. An $81.5 million garage remained the only completed element of an increasingly troubled project. Groundbreaking for the rest of the complex was on hold pending further fundraising. Gehry had prepared plans for a smaller alternative version of the structure but refused to
consider whether such a project should be built.
Cost factors went literally through the roof despite Gehry's use of a sophisticated French computer system, previously used to design jet aircraft and Chrysler automobiles, to transfer models directly onto fabrication drawings. This co...