Tag Archives: Dark

Number One

The presentation Building Design with Revit, Rhino, Dynamo & Grasshopper I did with Thomas Benedict Holth from Dark Architects at Revit Technology Conference Europe 2015 in Budapest in October was today announced the best rated session at the entire conference.

We presented work on combining Genetic Optimization and Environmental Analysis Tools in Grasshopper with Building Information Modeling (BIM) in Revit. The material was developed from the work we did together on an architectural competition at Dark last winter, and it apparently resonated with the people who attended the session. Thanks all who came and liked the session! I think we had a great time together in the Grand Ballroom at the Corinthia Hotel.

One of the things I have come to like about my job is working together with people who master and are passionate about computational and visual programming tools, have lots of ideas about technology, and are enthusiastic about learning BIM. Thomas was one of the first guys who made me realize this, and it was a great pleasure to work with him. We did not win the competition, but the technology we developed together still baffles me and makes me think we won anyway.

Me presenting Thomas

Me presenting Thomas

Together with Thomas and me, I was thrilled to find our previous coworkers and first time RTC speakers Margarida Jeronimo Barbosa (now at Beck) and Arne Folkestad Bjelland (now at Grape) on the Top 10 list. I was nowhere near an list after my first RTC presentation in Vancouver in 2013, and I’m brutally impressed with how they dealt with the preparations, nerves and execution. Awesome work, Margarida & Arne! I am also specially pleased to note that my friends and fellow European Dynamo enthusiasts Andreas Dieckmann and Peter Kompolschek were recognized for their awesome event sessions by also figuring in the final top 10 list. Check out the entire list on Jose Fandos’ blog post: RTC Europe Top 10 Speakers.

Julien, me, Margarida, Arne and Andreas at the Corinthia

Julien, me, Margarida, Arne and Andreas at the Corinthia

I plan to publish some content from the presentation in the future, but for now I conclude with thanking some of the people we worked with on the competition:

Caroline Stokkebokjær Hjelseth who didn’t sleep for 48 hours straight; Jeanette Norin who always laughed and totally owned the Revit model; Kaja Kittang Kvande who kept pushing us with her determination and never-give-up attitude; Rene Damborg Jensen, the trend expert who kept producing when we were all high on no sleep and couldn’t concentrate; Olaf Kon (mr. K) who contributed so much to the entire project with great ideas from day one; Franziska Meizel who flew in from the sideline and nailed the main concept at the end; Marcin Kitala who started working at Dark just before deadline and made huge contributions to the modeling of the final concept – life saver!; Tommi Haferbier Nielsen and his team at Steensen & Varming in Copenhagen – always in a good mood and contributing to the creative process; Ambrogio Agnozi at ARUP who gave us so much insight and knowledge about different structural solutions and ways to communicate a design with hand sketches; Daniel Nielsen in Copenhagen for all the help developing the Grasshopper scripts after Thomas went to Africa – we owe you big time; and finally Christine Grape who was our mentor, leader and anchor until two weeks before deadline. Thanks all!


Learn Revit


“Can you make a basic Revit video tutorial series for me”, Rodrigo asked.

“Of course.”

I did. It’s out. You can listen to my ranting at thinkparametric.com/courses/revit-architecture-101

Margarida Jeronimo Barbosa at Dark helped me so much making this course that I’m embarrassed to admit it. Great work. Thank you<3

I also owe big thanks to the team at Dark and Zinc who I worked with on this project: Jeanette Norin, Caroline Stokkebokjær Hjelseth, Kaja Kittang Kvande, Christine Grape and Ida Stople. I wrote about the project in the blog post A White Sheet.

The main reason I wanted to help Rodrigo and his friends at Think Parametric is I really like their Rhino and Grasshopper courses. I’ve also come to find many interesting design workflows integrating the four programs Revit, Dynamo, Rhino and Grasshopper. I believe Think Parametric’s computational exercises combined with building information modeling knowledge offers many interesting building design solutions.

At RTCAUS I used several examples of moving data between these four programs and letting each of them use their own strengths. I plan on doing more of the same at RTCEUR. And who knows; maybe one day you’ll find a video tutorial on the same topic at Think Parametric?


Arne quit his job.

He’s no longer sitting 6 meters behind me at the office. He’s no longer at Dark. He’s been there his entire professional career as an architects, but no longer. May 1th he went solo.

When I came to Dark two and a half years ago I didn’t know him very well. Nor did I know about his work and abilities. I can safely say that getting to know the creative, skilled and unafraid mind of my former colleague and new friend has been one the greatest pleasures of the past years. Arne has exceptional digital skills: He understands how software works. And he has the imagination and fearlessness to use that knowledge at full strength in building design. He also is completely unafraid to do things he’s never done before. Proven by quitting his first job without a new contract lined up.

I’m sad to see him go, but I’m glad to see him do it. And I’m super exited about my buddy’s future.

Now he runs his own architecture practice at Hel Ved Architecture, He continues to write at his blog Digital story of an architect.

Arne and his team designed one of the coolest buildings in Norway. Barcode, DnB Headquarters, Oslo. Dark Architects.

Arne and his team designed one of the coolest buildings in Norway. Barcode, DnB Headquarters, Oslo. Dark Architects.

Tribute To The Boss

This is Christine.

One week ago she was my boss. Architect and CEO of Dark Architects. Today she is not. I have some things to say about the way she led my company.

My job is largely about making others better. My passion is enabling architects and engineers with digital design tools and skills, so that they can build better buildings faster, and with greater sense of mastery, autonomy and purpose. That basically means finding and developing better ways of interacting with computers, and teaching these to others. I’m in the knowledge sharing industry. When you have a job that does not necessarily generate immediate revenue, but is part of a long term strategy for creating lasting value, there’s one thing you cannot live without: leadership that shares and supports your vision.

I’ve met many people across the world who share this passion for technology and teaching, and have similar responsibilities at their companies. I’ve spoken with building information modeling (BIM) managers who had to fight owners and board rooms to build a strategy for digital innovation. I have listened as design technologists have elaborated about internal struggles to establish employee training and budgets for conferences. I have lost track of how many times I have recommended investing in hardware – really a no-brainer – only to be ignored when the outlay appeared.

Last year my company purchased high end gaming desktops for all employees who used BIM or advanced graphical software on a daily basis. That’s probably more than 90 % of the entire crew. I asked Christine how many people we should upgrade for this time. She responded with a smile, “all”. The same year we sent 6 architects and a renegade engineer (me) to Dublin to attend the Revit Technology Conference. I asked Christine vaguely if four or five would be too many, confident I was pushing my luck. She: “I think seven would be appropriate.” That’s almost thirteen percent of the entire company. When my friend Arne and me asked if we could open source and publish our company Revit library, she said enthusiastically “why the hell not?” I set up countless training sessions for my colleagues, collaborators and competitors; sometimes for up to five or six individuals, and not rarely for several hours. I can’t remember that we ever even talked about financial problems with that.

Many leaders I’ve met have talked with passion about their employees being the “core of the company”. Few put money behind their claims. My boss did.

Interestingly, she never really wanted to be the leader of Dark Architects, but was convinced by others when our previous CEO resigned. I’m left with the impression that she cared far more about her employee’s opportunities to thrive at what they do, than her own career as a leader, or board room approval. She strikes me as the leader who would say yes downwards and no upwards. That’s leader material.

Last, one attribute that I’ve found in my former boss, and that is very hard to explain, is a natural ability to make you want to be at your best. Another colleague, Lars Ribbum, said to me once; “some people just make you want to be awesome.” Christine possess this natural ability, without you being scared. At least not very.

I believe that if you are making your colleagues better, you’re doing a good job as a leader. I now know much about what that actually means.

Good luck on your new projects, Christine! I really hope we get to work together again in the future.

Disclaimer: These are my personal reflections, and not necessarily those of my colleagues or company, although I highly doubt they will object.

Dark at Revit Technology Conference Europe 2014

In about 24 hours my colleagues, friends and me depart for Dublin and Revit Technology Conference Europe 2014. This year’s conference is the second ever, with the first being held in Delft, Netherlands a little over a year ago. That was a truly epic event, and I am confident we will bring the level of awesome in the building design industry community to new heights this weekend.

Thomas, me, Kaja, Lars, Vilde, Arne and Ricardo are heading for Dublin and RTC Europe 2014

Thomas, me, Kaja, Lars, Vilde, Arne and Ricardo are heading for Dublin and RTC Europe 2014

My company Dark Architects is sending a total of seven architects to Dublin this year. That’s 13 % of our entire crew of employees, and I’m proud of our ambitions and willingness to invest in the digital design knowledge among our young designers. I am also exited to introduce the brilliant people that I work with to my tribe; the characters leading technology development and dissemination in the building design industry world wide. I want Ricardo to meet Julien Benoit, who I met in Delft a year ago, and who has become one of my best friends since. I want Vilde to meet Kelly Cone from Texas. Kelly did a swing class at RTC North America in Chicago in June, and I’m hoping Vilde will perform a similar Riverdance session on Saturday. I hope Anthony Hauck and Jim Lynch will come over and say hello to Arne, who has been pushing their software to the brink of exhaustion the last couple of six or seven years. Kaja will surely enjoy meeting Jose Fandos, almost as much as Jose will enjoy meeting Kaja. With nervous anticipation I’m waiting for Lars to meet up with Aaron Maller. Both should have a thing or two to say about the higher purposes of life, and both are by far two of the most brilliant humans I have ever met. And I’m looking forward to introducing Thomas to Dynamo Grand Master Andreas Dieckmann. Thomas has been working at Dark for less than a year, but has already written Python scripts for my Dynamo iterations. Those two brains should be able to perform miracles together. Hooking up with my roadtrip buddies Jay and Martijn is a reunion I can’t wait to have. Our drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas last year is going to stick with me for a long time, hence will they.

The Eight Knights of Castle Awesome

The Eight Knights of Castle Awesome

On Friday and Saturday I will host my two class sessions, and I can honestly say I have never before been looking so much forward to presenting at a conference. It’s the first time ever I present at an international event in Europe, and both classes are going to be so much fun. The first is a 75 minute presentation (I click and talk, you watch and listen) on Computational Logic in Structural Design. This is a repeat of topics I discussed and taught in Melbourne and Chicago previously this year, and I have now streamlined the content further since then. Migrating to Revit 2015 and Dynamo 0.7.2 has been much work, but the process has helped reinforce my understanding of how visual programming works.

Two complete Dynamo handouts

Two complete Dynamo handouts

The personal highlight of the entire conference will however been Julien and my joint double lab (we click and talk, while you click and ask questions) session on Saturday. The content is brand new, the exercises are AWESOME and the handouts are straight from the press. If the material covered in this lab does not create some discussions about Dynamo, I don’t know what will. I’ll mostly be covering simple basic math, but Julien’s research on Python and Revit API possibilities in structural design is mind blowing. Here’s our teaser preview from June:

My biggest worry for the weekend is the dress code for the Saturday night gala dinner. My presentations are all set and done, all travel arrangements are good, but this small note in the conference details is terrifying me: “semi-formal”. What is this? What do I wear? What do I not wear? What will happen if I put on mismatching pieces of clothing? Do I put on a tie or not? So many potential mistakes to be done. Luckily, there’s always Google to the rescue, and in case others struggle with the same paranoia, here’s an excerpt from an article I found both useful and frustrating:

“Groom correctly. Remember to take a nice long shower, style your hair, and shave your face before attending a semi-formal event. If your hair is getting long, make sure you cut it before you attend the event, or you will look disheveled. Take time with your appearance before you leave the house.”

Apparently semi formal requires that you do wear a tie and a suit, but most importantly DO NOT EVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES WEAR A TUXEDO. Good to know. Here’s the entire article: How to Dress Semi Formal for Guys

Groom correctly

Groom correctly

In  June Steve Stafford remarked that my t-shirt and shorts matched my red eyes poorly, and I’m firmly determined not to let the man down again.

See you all in a little while, and be prepared to raise our universe’s total level of awesome a few notches more.