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Francesca Torello and Joshua Bard

Fri, Mar 10, 2023    1:30pm

Exploring the virtual in architecture: from historic replicas to Augmented Reality

Please join us for a lecture and Workshop by Francesca Torello and Joshua Bard.

Lecture Overview: Our work reframes the contemporary discourse surrounding Augmented Reality by highlighting the latent virtuality that consistently runs through architecture. Recognizing this core strength of our disciplinary past, we can reclaim AR and the virtual realm as a purview of the architect. In our projects Plaster ReCast and Virtual Fresco we position historic buildings and artifacts as many-layered, complex entities that create portals to illusionistic spaces. Our application of AR technologies stems from historical research and the observation of the buildings themselves. Our goal is to reveal their immersive qualities and explore their proto-virtual workings, disclosing them to contemporary observers and making them legible to a broader public.

Workshop Overview: In this workshop, we will explore how layers of augmented and virtual reality reveal new characteristics of physical spaces, modifying our understanding and perception. Historic Preservation has long involved competing media regimes, where drawings, models, and reproductions legitimize, critique, and illuminate historic artifacts and buildings. We will explore how emerging AR technologies both complicate and extend this tradition, experimenting with 3D modeling and reality capture in Rhino and Grasshopper, with a connection to Augmented/Virtual Reality through the Shapediver plugin. We will wrap up with a collective discussion of the outcomes, framed by broader questions about the relevance of Digital Media and Augmented Reality to the field of Historic Preservation as powerful tools that extend the gradient of possible responses to historic buildings.

Francesca Torello is an architectural historian and is Special Faculty with the Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture. She writes on the role of history in architectural education and practice, particularly at the turn of the twentieth century. She is also engaged in digital humanities projects that explore architecture’s latent virtuality and the cultural shifts brought about by digital technologies, such as the Augmented Reality experience for historic plaster casts ReCast (2018) and Virtual Fresco, for the Great Hall of the College of Fine Arts, a Beaux Arts building on the Carnegie Mellon Pittsburgh campus.

Joshua Bard is Associate Professor in the School of Architecture. He was named Associate Head for Design Research at the school in 2021. Joshua is an architectural educator conducting applied research at the intersection of construction culture and robotic technology. Joshua’s teaching and research interrogate traditional binaries in design culture (industry/craft, machine/hand, virtual/physical space, digital/analogue production), discovering new potential for contemporary digital tools in the jettisoned logics of hand and material craft. Joshua creates augmented construction and design systems combining the best of human skill, algorithmic translation, and robotic automation. Joshua collaborates with roboticists and computer scientists conducting basic research in human machine interaction and reality computing. He also works with historians, material scientists, and tradespeople immersed in theoretical and tacit knowledge of building construction. The focus of these collaborations is to explore human-machine collaboration in the high-skill domain of the building trades. Joshua teaches undergraduate and graduate architecture studios and instructs seminars in robotic fabrication and computational design.

Please register in advance for the lecture and workshop.

This lecture and workshop will be held in person and is accessible to Columbia University affiliates with a valid green pass.

Organized as part of the Preservation Lecture Series, an initiative of the Historic Preservation Program at Columbia GSAPP.