SCI-Arc Welcomes Mark Fahlbusch of Bollinger Grohmann

An Applied Studies focus at SCI-Arc is a requisite component of both undergraduate and graduate programs that incorporates theory and practice through an evolving roster of guest architects, building technologists, and cutting-edge thinkers. Organized by SCI-Arc faculty and Applied Studies Coordinator Herwig Baumgartner, the program challenges the spatial and social consequences of technology for architecture through workshops and seminars with leading practitioners, including Prof. Dr.-Ing Mark Fahlbusch who led a week-long intensive for the M.Arch 1 2GA class in the fall semester of 2016.

Fahlbusch is a partner of engineering firm Bollinger Grohmann, based in Germany. The firm has helped realize the forward-thinking work of firms and architects such as Coop Himmel(b)au, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, and Dominique Perrault. Bollinger Grohmann is also the credited developer of Karamba, an architect-friendly, finite analysis plugin for Rhino modeling software.  In addition to his professional practice, Fahlbusch is a professor at RheinMain University of Applied Science in Weisbaden, Germany. His research and teaching focuses on closing the gap between architects and engineers on the design of complex geometrical buildings.

“I hope students learn that integrating structure early into the design process isn’t just a box to check, and can have relevant aesthetic implications for a project by learning how to use structural design more intuitively, and articulating a position towards it, can help inform the design process early on,” Baumgartner says. “The course should also encourage students to meet engineers and consultants on all project issues through the design process, so they can work with them conceptually and learn how to challenge them, as well as build and expand their professional networks—which is especially relevant if and when they decide to start their own design practice.”

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Students in Fahlbusch’s workshop attest to the advantages of cross-disciplinary challenge and testing their ideas structurally. “Being an architect means thinking about more than just form and aesthetics; it involves, in this case, making conscious design decisions regarding structure that helps craft a well-rounded experience,” says Ashley Hastings, M. Arch I, Class of 2018, who completed the 2GA course with Fahlbusch. “I’m always thinking about 'building,' as both a noun and verb, and scripting in the user-friendly Grasshopper plugin, Karamba, made me more comfortable working on structure during the design process.”

Applied Studies coursework covers advanced concepts and applications including parametric design, structural optimization, advanced geometry, composite tectonics, material development, and ecology.  Past guest lecturers have included Christiane Sauer who works in advanced materials and Transsolar climate engineering. Baumgartner is also planning a workshop with Japanese engineer Jun Sato, and architect Gilles Retsin, who focuses on robotic 3D printing and assembly.