Daniel Cardoso Llach


Updated June 2023

Daniel Cardoso Llach is Associate Professor of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University, where he chairs the graduate program in Computational Design and directs CodeLab. He is the author of publications, exhibitions, and technologies critically exploring the nexus of design and computation, including the book Builders of the Vision: Software and the Imagination of Design, a history of computer-aided design (CAD) that identifies and documents technological theories of design emerging from postwar government-funded research projects at MIT, and reflects critically on their architectural repercussions. His new book, Designing the Computational Image, Imagining Computational Design, co-edited with Theodora Vardouli, draws from historical and contemporary materials to trace the emergence of computational design ideas and practices across a broader landscape of institutions in the US, the UK, and Canada.

Daniel received a PhD and a MS in Architecture: Design and Computation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a professional B. Arch from Universidad de los Andes. In 2016 he was a visiting scholar at the University of Cambridge’s Martin Centre in the UK, and a research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study of Media Cultures of Computer Simulation in Leuphana, Germany. He has held faculty appointments at Penn State and Universidad de los Andes, consulted as a computational design specialist for Gehry Technologies and Kohn Pedersen Fox, among others, and practiced as a licensed architect and media designer in his native Bogotá.


Download full CV PDF

gmail: daniel.cardoso.llach
twitter: @dcardo

Rethinking Automation in Construction

A project investigating the confluence of artificial intelligence and robotics to support building practices. We are interested in developing adaptive systems that enhance and interact with human expertise on site, and in articulating a vision for human-machine construction ecologies that eschew the aspiration of full autonomy and recognize the socio-technical complexity of building practices.


Experimental Archaeology of CAD: Software Reconstructions of Early Computer-Aided Design Systems

“Archaeology of CAD” is a series of interactive installations exploring the
origins of Computer-Aided Design by reconstructing a selection of its
pioneering technologies from the 1960s and 70s.

More information.

Designing the Computational Image, Imagining Computational Design Exhibition

An exhibition examining the formative period of Computer-Aided Design and numerical control technologies. With support from the Graham Foundation, the exhibition showcased materials from computational design pioneers such as Ivan Sutherland, Janet Tomlinsen, Nicholas Negroponte, Steven Coons, Lillian Schwartz, George Stiny, Robin Forrest, among others, and a selection of contemporary works by artists and architects including Zach Lieberman, Golan Levin, Kristy Baillet, Carl Lostritto, Andrew Heumann, among others.

Graham Foundation.

Miller ICA website.

Design, Technology and Society Book Series

Design, Technology and Society is a Routledge book series I co-founded and co-edit, offering new critical perspectives and creative insights into the roles of technological systems and discourses in the design and production of our built environment. As computation, software, simulations, digital fabrication, robotics, ‘big data,’ artificial intelligence and machine learning configure new imaginaries of designing and making across fields, the series approaches these subjects critically from enriched socio-material, technical and historical perspectives —revealing how conceptions of creativity, materiality and labor have shifted and continue to shift in conjunction with technological change.

More information.


Acacia: A Simulation Platform for Highly Responsive Smart Facades

An experimental simulation environment, Acacia, for the design and analysis of highly responsive building facades. Unique to Acacia is its capacity to enable the modeling and assessment of façade behaviors in response to both environmental and human inputs.

Video demo.

Croma: Organic Architectural Components

A collaborative to develop a responsive, programmable architectural component based on cheap organic polymers.

Video demo.

Melnikov Press-Fit Kit

A 3D version of my so-far-2D Melnikov Grammar; an open, fractal system for creating spaceframes.

More information.

Design and Computation Workshops
Between 2008 and 2012 I co-taught workshops on scripting and automation for design and fabrication in universities across the world. I worked with great colleagues including Kenfield Griffith, John Snavely, and Skylar Tibbits. Universities included Cornell, Harvard, Universidad de los Andes (Bogotá), Universidad de Chile, and American University of Sharjah (UAE). Image credit: student project by Rodrigo Velasco, Bogotá.
—Other Praxes

Since 2008, Andres Lombana and I record improvisational music sessions under the moniker 'Altiplano."
—News, Talks, Events

Collective Automation panel at NYIT
On April 26, 2023, I participated in a panel discussion on “Collective Automation” at the New Yort Institute of Technology, organized by Pablo Lorenzo Eiroa, Sandra Manninger, and Athina Papadopoulou. In the talk, I overviewed recent work at CodeLab focused on robotically-supported construction.

Event website.

Lecture at Taubman College’s Doctoral Symposium
On March 17, 2023 I gave a lecture at the Taubman College’s doctoral symposium "Phygital Frameworks: Architecture, Technology, Human & Non-Human Society", and served as a guest critic for a series of first-year doctoral projects.

Event website.

On November 11, 2022 I keynoted the XXVI Iberoamerican Conference of Digital Graphics (SiGraDi), themed “Critical Appropriations.” In my talk, I discussed recent research and editorial work on computational design practices outside of the “global North.”

Event website.

Are You A Model? Keynote
On Nov 2, 2022 delivered a talk at the Are You a Model international conference, organized by Anna Maria Meister from the Architecture Theory and Science group at the Department of Architecture at TU Darmstadt, Germany. The talk discussed different historical trajectories of architectural modeling through historical data and software reconstructions, and touched on methodologically innovative aspects of this type research.

Event website.

Virtual City and Territory Keynote
On September 27, 2022, gave a keynote address at the Virtual City and Territory International Conference, co organized by the Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya and Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano. Entitled "Unsettling Urban Intelligence," the lecture discussed recent work at CodeLab in the area of computational urban studies.

Event website.

SIGGRAPH 2022 Art Papers Program Begins
On August 8 2002, I had the privilege of opening the SIGGRAPH 2022 Art Papers in Vancouver, after chairing the program. In three sessions — Intelligences, Visions, and Realities — Art Papers authors convened to discuss their work. The results were published in the September 2022 issue of the Proceedings of the ACM in Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques: “Art/Tech Relocations.”

SIGGRAPH 2022 Art Papers website


Art Papers at the ACM Digital Library

Vers un imaginaire numérique exhibition opens in Montréal's Centre de Design a l'UQAM
On September 15, 2021 the exhibition "Vers un imaginaire numérique" opened in the Centre de design de l'UQAM in Montréal. The exhibition, co-developed with Theodora Vardouli, expanded and adapted to he Canadian context my previous show "Designing the Computational Image, Imagining Computational Design" previously on display at the Miller Institute of Contemporary Art at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh.

Gallery website.

Exhibition website.

AI Enlivenments: Invited Talk at Digital Futures Event
Delivered a short talk and participated in a conversation about the future of design and artificial intelligence themed "the death of culture" as part of the Digital Futures series of online events. Fellow panelists included Sylvia Lavin, Sanford Kwinter, Ciro Najile, Enrique Walker, and Neil Leach. The conversation was moderated by Marina Rodríguez das Neves.

See in YouTube.

Reconstruction, Emulation, Speculation talk at ICAM 2021
Participated in a panel on Born-Digital Design Records at the 2021 (virtual) meeting of the International Confederation of Architectural Museums (ICAM) organized by Library of Congress' Aliza Leventhal with fellow panelists Eric Kaltman, Gabriela Arrigoni, Christine Garnaut, and Corinna Gardner.

See program.

Provincializing the Digital: Keynote at CAAD Futures
Delivered a keynote at CAAD Futures conference and participated in a panel conversation alongside colleagues Rodrigo Ochigame and Theodora Vardouli, moderated by Constantinos Miltiadies, on July 16, 2021. My talk, entitled 'Provincializing de digital' drew from recent publications and works to ponder strategies and modes for critically engaging technology in architecture and design contexts.  

Conference website.

Digital.Visual.Material Symposium
The Digital.Visual.Material virtual symposium was a three-day event exploring the cross-disciplinary emergence of a computational imaginary of design. Co-chaired with Theodora Vardouli, the event brought together scholarly presentations and first-hand accounts of pioneering efforts to transform computers into visual and creative media. May 26-28, 2021.

Event website.

Talk at The Architekturmuseum Der TUM
Virtual talk and conversation with Philip Schneider at the ArchitekturMuseum der TUM in Munich, covering some of the recent work at our lab creatively reconstructing historical CAD systems and speculating about new design technologies. I delivered the talk in the context of the exhibition The Architecture Machine, which focuses on the influence of computation in architecture, curated by Teresa Fankhänel, where one of our pieces is on display. November 25, 2020.

See in YouTube.

Algotecton - Installation at SIGGRAPH 2020 Art Gallery
A generative fabrication installation based on the Weaire-Phelan structure developed in collaboration with Jingyang Liu and Yi-Chin Lee was selected for the SIGGRAPH 2020 Art Gallery, curated by Nik Apostolides. Due to COVID restrictions, the conference and gallery will take place online and will be on display until October 2020.

Algotecton @ ACM Digital Library.

Paisajes Distantes - Networked Performance at ICCC '20
A networked audiovisual performance that links soundscapes and visuals from Pittsburgh and Bogota captured during the COVID-19 quarantine period of 2020. An exercise in juxtaposition, it places dissimilar sounds and imagery of ferrovial systems, water canals, urban fauna, and domestic life alongside synthetic soundscapes created using guitars, granular synthesis, and other software instruments. Created with Andres Lombana-Bermudez as part of Altiplano. Selected for presentation at the SoundArt event at the International Conference of Computational Creativity, Sep 7-11, 2020. 

Paisajes Distantes in YouTube.

Conference website.

Reconstruction, Emulation, Speculation - Talk at 4SEASST
Presented ongoing work into CAD software reconstruction, emulation, and speculation at the "Re-animating the history of computer graphics" panel, organized by Ranjodh Singh Dhaliwal and Akshita Sivakumar at 4SEASST. August 18, 2020.

Conference website.


Sculpting Expressive Spaces - Talk at Universidad de los Andes
Gave one of the inaugural talks for the incoming cohort of architecture and design graduate students at Universidad de los Andes on August 14, 2020. The talk explored the long history of machine learning in the creative fields and suggested new directions for computational design research drawing from recent work by my research group at Carnegie Mellon.


History of CAD - Talk at the CMU Department of History
Discussed my research on the development of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) systems through a combination of historical, ethnographic, and creative technology prototyping methods in a guest talk with students and faculty in the CMU Department of History, organized by Prof. Chris Phillips. Feb 20.

Sketchpad Reconstruction - Featured in Munich Exhibition on Architecture and Computers
The catalogue for the exhibition The Architecture Machine, curated by Teresa Fankhänel's at the Architekturmuseum at the Technical University of Munich, Germany, includes an essay by the curator on our software reconstruction of Ivan Sutherland's Sketchpad, which is also showcased physically in the show.

TAM Exhibition.


Laborious Computers - Talk at Harvard GSD Symposium
Discussed issues of digital labor in architecture in the symposium “Other Histories of the Digital” at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. The event, organized by Matthew Allen, Phillip Denny, and Christina Shivers on April 2, 2019, concluded with a roundtable discussion moderated by Antoine Picon. Participants included: Sean Keller, Andrew Witt, Olga Touloumi, Theodora Vardouli, Eve Blau, among others. See more.

Event website.

Working Things Out - STS+Architecture lecture at the University of Michigan
Lectured at the Fall 2019 Science, Technology, and Society Speaker Series at the University of Michigan’s STS Department, co-hosted by the Department of Architecture, and organized by Joy Knoblauch, on 4 November 2019. In the talk, discussed pedagogical efforts to put socio-technical perspectives at the center of computational design research and learning.

Infrastructures of the imagination - Lecture at Clemson University
Delivered a lecture entitled “Infrastructures of the Imagination” at Clemson University’s Department of Architecture on March 27, 2019. The lecture was part of a back-to-back event with CMU School of Design’s Associate Professor Molly Wright Steenson. The two lectures were followed by a conversation moderated by Clemson University Professor Winifred Elysse Newman.

A Hard Core: Architects and Science in the Research University - Panel at HSS 2018
Organized Session and paper presentation at the History of Science Society Conference, with Theodora Vardouli, Matthew Allen, and Anna Vallye, and respondent Jennifer Light. November 3, 2018.

Conference website.

Book of abstracts.

The Calculative Imagination - Digital Masterclass at the Bauhaus University, Weimar
On October 18-19, 2018, I visited the Bauhaus University in Weimar, Germany, to deliver a one day "masterclass" and an invited lecture, organized by Christoph Engemann.

Event announcement.

More information.

Guest talk at University of Toronto
Guest talk in the Architecture and Media course by invitation of Prof. Pete Minosh at University of Toronto. October 17, 2018.

Designing the Computational Image - Invited Lecture at MIT
Invited to the MIT Department of Architecture Lecture Series, Fall 2017, organized by Moa Carlsson. November 17, 2017.

More information.

Delivered Keynote and Workshop at Universidad del Valle, Colombia
Delivered keynote at Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia, in the conference VI Seminario de Representacion de Proyecto, organized by Rodrigo Vargas. November 10, 2017.

Conference website.

Invited Lecture at the HCII Institute at Carnegie Mellon University
Invited to lecture at the Human Computer Interaction Institute Seminar Series at Carnegie Mellon, Fall 2017, organized by Brad Meyers and hosted by Jodi Forlizzi. October 13, 2017.

More information.

Designing the Computational Image, Imagining Computational Design Exhibition Opens
The exhibition Designing the Computational Image, Imagining Computational Design opens at the Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, September 22, 2017. Curated and designed by Daniel Cardoso Llach, and supported by the Graham Foundation, the exhibition featured a selection of historical materials from the history of CAD and numerical control, as well as contemporary expressions of computation in design. The opening event was attended by over 200 visitors from the university and the wider public.

Exhibition website.

Invited Lecture at Perspective Rules Symposium, Germany
Invited to lecture at the Institute for the Advanced Study of Media Cultures of Computer Simulation (MECS) in Leuphana University, Germany, as part of the Perspective Rules Symposium organized by Nicole Stocklmeyr. January 17, 2017.

Keynote at Humboldt University, Berlin
Delivered keynote at the Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany, in the conference CAx: Dimensions of Computer-Aid in Architecture, Bio-material Sciences, Design and Medicine, organized by Dr. Kathrin Friedrich. April 3, 2017.

Invited Lecture at the Institute for Advanced Architecture, Barcelona
Invited to the Winter Lecture Series at the Institute of Advanced Architecture (IAAC) in Barcelona. March 3, 2016.

Invited Lecture in Mario Carpo's 'Digital Turn' course at the Bartlett, London
Invited to give a guest lecture as part of the course 'The Digital Turn: A Cultural History,' by Professor Mario Carpo, along with Phillippe Morel, at the Bartlett School of Architecture, London. March 16, 2016.

Organized Panel at the Design History Society: Three Episodes in the Postwar Imagination of Design, San Francisco, CA
Talk and Organized Panel "Three Episodes in the Postwar Imagination of Design" with Molly Wright Steenson and Theodora Vardouli at the Design History Society Conference in the California Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA. September 10-13, 2015.

How do Bits come to Matter? Towards a Material History of Computational Design, London
Invited lecture at the Bartlett School of Architecture, May 19, 2015 as part of the Material Matters Lecture Series, organized by Xavier De Kestelier.

Event announcement.

Design Across Boundaries: Stuckeman Center for Design Computing Open House and Symposium
I organized an open house and flash symposium in the Stuckeman Center for Design Computing. Imagined as the first instance of an annual event, the eventcombined an exhibition of computational design research and coursework directed byPSU faculty, and a symposium joining emerging scholars and practitioners of computational design. Special guests included Athina Papadopolou, Somnath Ray, Laia Mogas Soldevilla and Orkan Telhan.

Event announcement.


Form & Code Exhibition
This exhibition, organized and curated by Peter Lusch, displayed creative work made by students writing their own (Processing) code in different courses—including my course Algorithmic Tectonics. The exhibition, which featured the work of several courses across the College of Arts and Architecture, took place in the Stuckeman Center for Design Computing on April 29, 2015.

The Architect's Bargain: Building the Bilbao Effect in the Abu Dhabi Desert
In the Industries of Architecture Conference (at University of Newcastle, November 13-16, 2014.), I spoke about architects' professional engagements with Middle East clients, based on my work as a participant observer and consultant in Abu Dhabi, UAE. How do architects deal with the complicated social and political questions that arise in this particular context of practice? Are there situations that oppose professional pragmatism and ethical concerns?

Conference website.

Aedificatoria Binaria: Talk at "What's the Matter" Conference, Barcelona
Talked about the materiality of digital information in the "What's the Matter?" Conference in Barcelona. September 4, 2014.

Bits come to matter: Talk at Foster and Partners, London
I spoke about the origins of Numerical Control at Foster + Partners office in London.

The Architecture Machine Group Panel
I introduced and moderated a panel with Nicholas Negroponte and many of the original members of The Architecture Machine Group during the "Futures Past: Design and the Machine" Conference organized by Olga Touloumi, Theodora Vardouli, and Duks Koshitz at the MIT MediaLab. November 21, 2013.

Computational Making Workshop at University College London, DCC14
I spoke at and co-hosted a workshop on Computational Making at UCL London, chaired by Terry Knight, as part of the 2014 Design Computing and Cognition (DCC) conference.

Event website.

Seeking a Lingua Franca-Images of BIM: Talk at University of Basel
I gave a talk and contributed a Chapter in Imagery in the Age of Modelling: Operative Artifacts in the Design Process in Architecture and Engineering. The event was curated by Dr. Sabine Ammon, and Dr. Inge Hinterwaldner, and took place in the University of Basel, Switzerland, May, 2013, in the context of Eikones, the Center for the Theory and History of the image, Faculty of Philosophy and History.

Eikones website.

Building BIM: Talk at Autodesk, Boston
In June 18, 2013, I gave a talk and had a discussion with Autodesk developers about my research on Building Information Modeling practice. The talk was organized by MIT collegue Lira Nikolovska, and took place in June, 2013.

Accident and Control: Talk at WWW Drawing Symposium in the Drawing Center, NY
Gave a talk and participated in a discussion with James Wines, Archigram's Michael Webb, Jurg Lehni,Ann Tarantino, and others, on the role of drawing in the digital age. The event took place in The Drawing Center, New York, May 11, 2013.

More information.

Ph.D. defense: Builders of the Vision
Successfully defended my Ph.D. dissertation at MIT before my truly wonderful committee, comprising Profs. Terry Knight, Lucy Suchman, Rosalind Williams, and Takehiko Nagakura. MIT, August 26, 2012.

Dissertation in dSpace.


Missiles, symbiosis, and the invention of an algorithmic tectonics: Talk at AA Visiting School - Bogotá
Gave a talk at the AA (Architectural Association) Visiting School in Bogotá, Colombia, about the discourses of design produced by the "ecology of knowledge" that developed around army-funded research operations active at MIT during the post-war age—July 22, 2012.

More information.

AUS Workshop 2011
The manhattan (car-less) promenades: Workshop at MIT
In June 2011 I co-tutored with Nida Rehman one of the Archiprix Workshops at MIT. The workshop explored Manhattan's grid as the site of a process of urban "erosion," opening new public space networks for pedestrian use, or "Promenades." The workhop results were exhibited in the New York Guggenheim Museum and Center for Architecture.
AUS Workshop 2011
Computational design workshop: Workshop at AUS
In March 17, 2011, taught a 3 day design workshop on computational modularity and variation in the American University of Sharhaj, in the UAE. In collaboration with Gehry Technologies colleagues Santino Medina and Maher El Khaldi.
Conceptions of Human and Non-Human Agency (The Poetics of Automation): Conference paper in 4S, Tokyo
I presented Conceptions of Human and Non-Human Agency (The Poetics of Automation) in the 4S Conference in Tokyo, Japan. August 15, 2010. Read the abstract.
Algorithmic design in the UFM - Guatemala
I was invited to give a lecture and micro-workshop in Universidad Francisco Marroquin (UFM), in Guatemala City. The talk's title was: Apuntes para una poética automática. Visited the beautiful Petén and the impressive Yaxhá.
Cornell Reviews
I was invited as a jury for 2nd year undergraduate design studio final review at the Cornell University School of Architecture.
Croma project paper presentation in the 2010 ECAADE in Istanbul
I presented the Croma project in Istanbul at the ECAADE conference and featured in the MIT website.
Computational Design Workshop in Cornell
Collaborated with Kenfield Griffith at a Cornell University School of Architecture design and scripting workshop. The workshop was organized and co-taught by Cornell Professor (and MIT Ph.D.) Yanni Loukissas.
Computational Design Workshop in Harvard GSD
Collaborated with Kenfield Griffith at a Harvard Graduate School of Design design and scripting workshop. The workshop was organized and co-taught by DDeS Candidate Taro Narahara.
General Exams - Design automata
Researching the history of automata and automation for my exams. Thinking of design automata.
New Geography of Design paper in ECAP 2009
Invited to Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona to present the paper 'New Geography of Design' under the ECAP 09 European Conference of Philosophy and Computing, early July.
Scripting Workshop in Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá
In January 2009 we taught a Des&Comp Workshop in Bogotá with friends and colleagues Ken Griffith and Skylar Tibbits. The workshop had the support of McNeel (Rhinoceros) and Universidad de los Andes School of Architecture.
Voronoi Pavilion, Lima Peru
The Voronoi Pavilion, in Lima, Peru, designed by Natalija Boljsakov and Brian Miller. I collaborated with the designers by automating aspects of the form-generation and fabrication of this exhibition space, for Lima's UPC's architecture school.
Planar-Surface (Bojlsakov + Miller)
Scripting for change
I helped my friends (and ex-students) in Peru's UPC Natalija Boljsakov and Brian Miller to develop a custom tool for designing and altering complex surfaces. Some applications will be presented in Bogota this month. August 1, 2008.
Altiplano in Somerville
On August 21, 2008, performed live in Sommerville before a small audience with Altiplano (Andres Lombana and Daniel Cardoso Llach). The VJing was in charge of Maria Mendez. Lots of feedback and beautiful noise. Listen to a Lo-Fi recording of the performance.
Reviews at Wentworth
On May 5, 2008, was invited as a guest critic to the first year's architecture studio reviews at Wentworth Institute of Technology.
Generative Fabrication
Generative Fabrication at theBAC
On January 8, 2009, I presented a lecture on Generative Fabrication, and a micro-workshop on scripting, in the BAC (Boston Architectural College). The lecture and workshop are based on my Master's Thesis.
Design and the Automated Utopia
I gave a presentation entitled Design and the Automated Utopia at the Critical Digital Conference, at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. April 17, 2008.
Melnikov Grammar
Melnikov Grammar paper accepted to the 3IA'2008 the 11th International Conference on Computer Graphics and Artificial Intelligence in Athens, Greece.
Designing the Computational Image, Imagining Computational Design
Forthcoming Fall '23!Designing the Computational Image, Imagining Computational Design examines the twentieth-century emergence of new methods for representation, simulation, and manufacturing linked to computers, and reflects on their contemporary repercussions across creative fields. The book documents an exhibition first presented at the Miller Institute of Contemporary Art in 2017. An expanded (and bilingual) version of the exhibition including Canadian materials was co-developed with Theodora Vardouli for the Centre de Design de l'UQAM in Montreal in 2021. The book offers an extensive visual archive on the history and contemporary practice of computational design comprising hundreds of unpublished or lesser-known computational images, drawings, films, and software; essays by architecture, media, and science and technology scholars; as well as artworks by, conversations, and interviews with historical protagonists and contemporary practitioners.

Pre-order link.

Builders of the Vision: Software and the Imagination of Design
Long in the making, my book Builders of the Vision: Software and the Imagination of Design was published by Routledge in June of 2015. Builders is an intellectual history of Computer-Aided Design and numerical control that identifies and documents the emergence of a 'technological imagination' of design from cold war technology projects at MIT, and traces it critically to contemporary architectural practices.

Builders of the Vision: Software and the Imagination of Design (New York and London: Routledge, 2015).

Amazon Link.

—Special Issues
Art/Tech Relocations
This special issue of the Proceedings of the ACM in Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques (PACMCGIT) collected the papers presented as part of the SIGGRAPH 2022 Art Papers program, which I chaired, and which invited authors to recognize the instability — and interdependence — of the "Art" and "Tech" concepts. See the content in the links below.

Art/Tech Relocations, Proceedings of the ACM on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques. Vol. 5, No. 4. https://dl.acm.org/toc/pacmcgit/2022/5/4

Read the introduction.

Other Computations: Digital Technologies for Architecture from the Global South
This special issue of the Dearq journal I co-edited with Andres Burbano explores computational design practices in architecture outside of the “global North,” challenging diffusionist accounts of technological innovation in architecture. It comprises eight peer-reviewed articles, one invited essay, reviews of projects by Southern practitioners, and an afterword by historian of architecture and technology Antoine Picon. 

Other Computations. Special Issue of Dearq, Vol. 27, 2020 (Open Access).

Read the introduction.

—Selected articles and essays

Distantly Reading Wooden Carpathian Churches
Michael Hasey is a 2023 graduate of the MSCD program. Based on his thesis — a wonderful study of 18th-19th century trans-carpathian wooden churches using deep learning and computer vision techniques  — we wrote this article, which reflects on the potential of these techniques to help us address architectural historical questions, and to expand our analytical repertoire to engage with issues of architectural and cultural heritage. 

Hasey, Michael, Jinmo Rhee, and Daniel Cardoso Llach. “Form Data as a Resource in Architectural Analysis: An Architectural Distant Reading of Wooden Churches from the Carpathian Mountain Regions of Eastern Europe.” Digital Creativity, (April 30, 2023): 1–24. 

Between Form and Information
This article shows how, in the early days of computer-aided design, a tension developed between two understandings of design. One focused on form and exploited the geometric plasticity enabled by computer graphics. Another focused on information, and centered on the indexicality and addressability of computationally encoded information. This article draws from original historical research to reveal the origins of these different modeling philosophies, and shows how they foreshadowed distinct technical and conceptual paths that architecture and design tools and practices continue to traverse today.

Daniel Cardoso Llach. Between Form and Information: Early Philosophies of Computer-Aided Design.” Nexus Network Journal 23, no. 4 (December 1, 2021): 933–43. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00004-021-00581-w

Unsettling Placelessness
The curators of the Austrian Pavilion at the 2021 Venice Biennale, Peter Mörtenböck and Helge Mooshammer, invited several architectural and urban scholars to reflect on the subject of “platform urbanism.” In my piece, I reflect on Pittsburgh’s postwar history of self-reinvention, linking it to the emergence of "smart city" ideas, and discuss some recent work developed at CodeLab combining algorithmic analysis with historical and ethnographic observation. What can architectural modes of inquiry do to illuminate, challenge, or subvert the pernicious effects of what other scholars have termed ‘surveillance capitalism’? How may these understandings help us imagine new urban technologies, forms, and experiences?

Platform Urbanism and Its Discontents. Peter Mörtenböck and Helge Mooshammer, eds. Nai010 Publishers, 2021.  

Read Unsettling Placelessness

An Archive of Interfaces: Exploring the Potential of Emulation for Software Research, Pedagogy, and Design
In this paper we investigate the potential of distributed emulation networks to support research and pedagogy into historical and sociotechnical aspects of software, and design. Emulation is a type of virtualization that re-creates the conditions for a piece of legacy software to operate on a modern system. The project involved designing and documenting pedagogical experiences oriented to incorporate emulations into software research and learning in the context of my CMU course Experimental Archaeologies of CAD. The paper shows how emulations enabled close, user-centered analyses of software systems (especifically AutoCAD) that highlighted both their historical evolution and core interaction concepts, and how these systems shaped the work practices of their users. In addition, it shows how these analyses offered insight into experimental approaches into the design of CAD systems. The paper was awarded a Methods mention at the 2021 ACM CSCW Conference.

An Archive of Interfaces: Exploring the Potential of Emulation for Software Research, Pedagogy, and Design. Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction. Volume 5, Issue CSCW2, October 2021, Article No.: 294, pp 1–22.

Magical Modernism: Latin American Urbanism and the Imaginary of Social Architecture
This article, coauthored with Nida Rehman, critically overviews the evolving portrayal of Latin American architecture and urban design, particularly by United States and European observers, as the realization of a modernist aspiration to align design with social causes. With a focus on the coupling of architectural and nation-building projects in Colombia, the article urges for a closer look at the conditions and entanglements of architectural production in the region’s uneven political and spatial landscapes.

Magical Modernism: Latin American Urbanisms and the Imaginary of Social Architecture.” Dearq, January 14, 2021.

Between Accident and Control: Contrasting Traditions of Computational Design
This book, edited by Janet Abrams and Mehrdad Hadighi, and published by ACTAR in 2020, collects essays and conversations on the transformation of architectural drawing in the digital age. My essay is entitled "Between Accident and Control: Contrasting Traditions of Computational Design." I argue that what architects do with computers is not drawing, and distinguish two intellectual traditions of computational design: one concerned with precision and production, and one concerned with exploration and uncertainty. Other authors include Andrew Heumann, Jurg Lehni, Jane Nisselsson, Anne Tarantino, Seher Sheh, James Wines, Michael Webb, and Mark West.

“Between Accident and Control: Contrasting Traditions of Computational Design.” In WWW Drawing: Architectural Drawing from Pencil to Pixel, edited by Mehrdad Hadighi and Janet Abrams. Barcelona: ACTAR Publishers, 2020.

WWWD Book (Actar)

Cultivating the critical imagination
This article, co-authored with Mine Ozkar, documents and reflects upon a pedagogical project aimed at fostering critical engagements with technology at the Computational Design Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon, a graduate research and learning laboratory at the nexus of architecture, computer science, art, and design which I have been helping shape for the last several years.

Cultivating the critical imagination: post-disciplinary pedagogy in a computational design laboratory, Digital Creativity, 30:4, 257-276, 2019.

Unruly Bits
In this article for the Digital Frictions series, edited by Shannon Mattern for Urban Omnibus, I think about modularity and computation — and the disobedient elements and actors that make up the built environment.

“Unruly Bits.” In URBAN OMNIBUS: Digital Frictions, edited by Shannon Mattern (December 4, 2019).

Tracing Design Ecologies
In this chapter, developed for the digitalSTS handbook edited by Janet Vertesi and David Ribes, I propose a method to use digital traces in sociotechnical studies of design. Drawing from my work on BIM coordination, it incorporates data as an ethnographic material susceptible of both visual representation and quantitative analysis, alongside other forms of observation and reflection. The interdisciplinary digitalSTS handbook won the Olga Amsterdamska award at the 4SEASST conference.

“Tracing Design Ecologies” in DigitalSTS: A Handbook and a Fieldguide, ed. Janet Vertesi and David Ribes, (Princeton University Press: 2019)..

Of Algorithms, Buildings and Fighter Jets: A Conversation with Robin Forrest
Interview with Robin Forrest published in Architecture Research Quarterly (ARQ) in November 2017. A founding member of the Computer-Aided Design Group at the University of Cambridge, UK, and a student and collaborator of CAD pioneer Steven A. Coons at MIT, Robin Forrest occupies an important place in the history of computational design. The issue was organized and edited by Nathalie Bredella and Carolin Höfler.

“Of Algorithms, Buildings and Fighter Jets: A Conversation with Robin Forrest.” Arq: Architectural Research Quarterly 21, no. 1 (March 2017): 53–64.

Data as Interface: The Poetics of Machine Learning in Design
This chapter offers a brief history of machine learning in design using examples from architecture, music, and the visual arts, and theorizes the new forms of design authorship emerging around the design, curation, and manipulation of data. Other contributors include Lev Manovich, Luciana Parisi, and the volume's co-editors Christoph Engemann and Andreas Sudmann.

“Data as Interface: The Poetics of Machine Learning in Design” in Machine Learning – Medien, Infrastrukturen und Technologien der Künstlichen Intelligenz, eds. Christoph Engemann and Andreas Sudmann ([transcript-verlag]), 2018.

Architecture and the Structured Image
This chapter considers the transition of architectural images from pictorial representations of a design into mathematically enlivened and 'operative' artifacts performing it. The chapter evolved from interdisciplinary discussions and collaborations with architectural and image theorists, philosophers, and media scholars at the Eikones research group at the University of Basel, Switzerland, and is included in The Active Image: Architecture and Engineering in the Age of Modeling, an edited collection organized by Sabine Ammon and Remei Capdevila-Werning. Other contributing authors include Reinhold Martin, Gabriela Goldschmidt, Irene Mittelberg, Rivka Oxman, and others.

“Architecture and the Structured Image” in Imagery in the Age of Modelling: Operative Artifacts in the Design Process in Architecture and Engineering, ed. Sabine Ammon and Inge Hinterwaldner (Springer: 2017).

Download article.

Software Comes to Matter: Towards a Material History of Computational Design
This article, an adaptation of Chapter 3 in my book Builders of the Vision, examines the early history of numerical control, and argues that software can be seen as an inchoate theory of design. Summer issue of DesignIssues 2015. See article.

Algorithmic Tectonics: How Cold War Era Research shaped our Imagination of Design
Contributed an article to Computation Works: The Building of Algorithmic Thought, a special issue of Architectural Design (AD) edited by Xavier De Kestelier and Brady Peters, launched in April, 2013.
A digestible vanguard: the "Bosque de la Esperanza" by Giancarlo Mazzanti and the "social moment" of Colombian architecture
In this article I discuss the 'social moment' of Colombian architecture through a critical look at one of Giancarlo Mazzanti''s recent projects: El Bosque de la Esperanza.For Cuadernos de Vivienda y Urbanismo June 2012. See Spanish and Portughese versions (PDF).
'Perfect Slaves' article published
My article 'Perfect slaves,' about the early days of computational design at MIT was published by the Dearq journal, edited at the Universidad de los Andes. Free online version of the journal. September 14, 2012
The Carless Street published in the New York Atlas of Possibilty
In the context of the Urban Design Week the "Manhattan Promenades" project was featured online and published in a book called "New York Atlas of Possibility," a collection of urban and architectural proposals for the city.
Inertia of an Automated Utopia
My paper "Inertia of an Automated Utopia," which discusses critically the cybernetic reformulation of authorial agency in Nicholas Negroponte’s early work on CAD (and some repercussions in contemporary design) was published in the 39th issue of Thresholds, edited by Adam Johnson.
Hello (3D) World
Hello (3D) World is a collection of my introductory handouts to scripting and geometry automation (using RhinoScript). Download it here.
Sigradi 2010
Editorial Co-chair for the Sigradi 2010 Conference to be held in Bogotá, Colombia in November 2010.
Shift+Design in IJAC
On August 2010 IJAC (International Journal of Architectural Computing) published my article "Shift_Design," where I discuss technical and cultural aspects of the design and scripting workshops taught in US and South American architecture schools.
—Notes and Sketches

The Poetics of Automation
Dissertation keywords: Human-Machine Interaction, authorial agency, automation, utopia.
Coming back
Fall of 2008 return to Central Square, Cambridge, MA.
Des-comp Blog
Guest editor of MIT's Design and Computation Group blog. Also, coordinator of 4.583 - Computation group forum.
Iseo Lake
Photo taken from a train near the Iseo Lake (Pronvincia di Brescia, Italy). August 29, 2008.
Daniel Cardoso Llach, 2008-2023