RED Research Award Update: Midterm Crit

August 17, 2016

What do knitting and crocheting have to do with architecture? How can leveraging data as an expression of context influence our practice? These are some of the questions that BBB’s RED Research Award teams are asking themselves, and their colleagues.

On Thursday, August 11, the two teams, FABRICation and Data Driven (Urban) Design, presented their initial findings at an office-wide internal review. The midway check-in and crit provided opportunity for the teams to share their progress and solicit feedback from jurors and fellow BBB staff that will guide the development of their projects, concluding this fall.

The teams were challenged to think critically about their projects from many perspectives, including scale, materiality, and applicability to our practice. Neil Kittredge, Partner and Director of Planning & Urban Design and also a juror, asked the Data Driven (Urban) Design team, who are grappling with potentially unwieldy amounts of information, to “consider automating the data in order to focus on design.” Suzi Schmidt asked the FABRICation team to consider refugee shelters as a potential final product, adding a layer of social responsibility.

The FABRICation team presented their explorations and physical models of the knit unit, and its relationship to architecture. Correlating parametric modeling to the exercise of knitting, they illustrated how applying a basic unit to a parametric surface definition can create a new kind of materiality and spatial experience. Next steps include exploring scale and program for a final site-specific installation.


The Data Driven (Urban) Design team presented dynamic models of NY and DC waterfronts, utilizing software and universal data to create visualizations on urban sites. These models expose key insights that can serve as a basis for design and decision-making in planning and urban design. A challenge will be to distill the technology and research to advance the collective design knowledge base and propel the use of data driven software to inform our practice.


The office-wide internal crit was connected via videoconference, with the FABRICation team (from NY) presenting in BBB’s DC office and the inter-office Data Driven (Urban) Design team presenting in New York. This physical exchange, which will be reversed for the final presentation, enable the two teams to engage in dialogue with colleagues from both offices. During the presentations, audience members were also able to provide comments or ask questions via an online polling tool.

Please check back this fall for the conclusion of the inaugural RED Research Award, and follow our RED progress on Twitter at #BBBRED.

BBB’s RED (Research Exchange Develop) initiative seeks to:

• promote research, investigation and knowledge of new and innovative materials, processes, and methodologies;

• encourage a culture and community of open dialogue, inquiry, creativity, and critical exchange; and

• foster development and propagation of ideas and applications that align with BBB’s practice and culture.

FABRICation Team: Natalya Shimanovskaya, Lissette Méndez-Boyer

Data Driven (Urban) Design Team: Scott Archer, Elizabeth Ellington, Michael O’Neill, Caroline VanAcker

Jurors: Neil P. Kittredge, AIA, AICP Partner, Director of Planning & Urban Design, Hany Hassan, FAIA, Partner, Director of the DC Office, Lauren Cawse, AIA, LEED Green Associate, Associate, Allie Ditzel, Evan Supcoff, AIA, Associate, Director of Business Development, Kyung Jae Yu, Associate, Rick Parisi, RLA, FASLA, CLARB, Managing Principal, MPFP Landscape Architects