Garrett Marini

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-2016




architecture, form, light, performance, parametric




Architectural Technology | Other Architecture


The Gothic, Baroque, and Rococo architectural styles relied on perception and an underlying adherence to classical formulas to provide merit and deem an architecture valid. Up through the 19th century before the emergence of modernism these established canons would reemerge both in isolation and as an amalgam of styles. Henry Russell Hitchcock describes this latter episodic phase of building as exhibiting an eclecticism of style, where features of different styles are used together on a single building like those in the Beaux- Arts tradition. In the early 20th century, Louis Sullivan’s modernist dictum of “Form Follows Function,” while seemingly providing design with an explicit methodology and structure also created an architecture with an undefined basis for evaluation. With this prescribed mode of design and a strict adherence to employing a truth to materials, architecture succumbed to a type of sterilization. Buildings that were supposed to be liberated and announce their typology were whitewashed, further concealing their identity. Currently, the use of metaphor in contemporary practice frequently serves as a post-rationalized vehicle for design rationale, once again leading the discipline no further in establishing a measurable means of formal evaluation or value system.

At Renzo Piano’s Menil Collection in Houston, Texas, we see the use of the metaphor used to derive a delaminated roof scheme that employed a series of fixed louvers referred to as “leaves”. Although this building illustrates a type of performance driven formal strategy, this leaf reference is part of a larger organic metaphor, as seen in other building elements. The form of the trusses from which these daylight modulators are suspended possess an organic bonelike rendering with no structural or construction based rationale, furthering this unfounded use of metaphor.

This thesis posits that performance as a design criteria has to ability to serve as the primary guiding metric for the design process, providing the basis for a measurable means of evaluating formal systems. Using parametrics, analysis, and simulation tools guided by site and program specificity, it is hoped that an architecture where form truly follows function will emerge. This parametric design space will be defined through both construction logic and a set of predetermined geometric constraints that undergo an iterative optimization process.


local input

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