Project Status: Competition

Design Architects: Danny Karas, Chris Thackrey

Danny Karas
Hernan Diaz Alonso

Repetition in architecture has typically manifested itself in duplication. In the process of duplication formal lineage is lost. The articulation is singular, a simple element repeated, rather then evolved. By taking the act of duplication and treating it as a genealogy, there is a potential to create form without singularity.
Take, for example, the simple architectural gesture of the box; we shall call this box “M”. In order to repeat “M” without duplication we look at the gesture and location. By relocation M along an axis of symmetry we have the act of mirroring, but this in not enough to create a new lineage. This new box that we will call “N” must be deformed in a way that makes reference to “M” yet still has individuality. This process can be done by connecting features through splines, these splines attach the the axis of symmetry and create a deformation connection, linking “M” and “N”. This link is the first step in creating a lineage of formal duplication. Once “M” and “N” are joined we are left with an object with a new connected line of formal symmetry and several open splines ready to be repeated. This connected object becomes the new “M”. This process can now be repeated adding new lines of symmetrical deformation. These open lines of symmetry can be used for Macro level formal moves or Micro level detail. Using these parameters it is possible to create a large form embedded with a “genealogy”. As “N” is repeatedly drawn from “M” the form increases in complexity yet does not lose its lineage.
“M”and “N” are breeding through splines and creating architectural complexity without the need for the typical methods such as aggregation or repetition. Using this process it is possible to create a larger figure embedded with the harmony of duplication, without the doldrums of repetition. The origin of “M” and “N” becomes lost yet has created new architectural DNA that manifests itself in the life of a project of architecture.

The Project is a proposal for a competition proposed by ArchMedium for a Fire House in San Francisco port 30. The program includes room for living working and learning for the fire department. The Firehouse contains multiple trucks as well as boats and a helicopter. The project is a unique fusing of a private institution with the design elegance of a large public building. The design has expressed structure and grandeur as a way of projecting power for the people of San Francisco in the same way docked Battleships of the past had.

In the larger analysis M and N is a statement on the uselessness of endless metaphors as generators for architectural thesis. There is no reason why an educational project cannot have aspirations of plausibility. Anymore time spent on pure representation and excessive experimentation takes architecture away from taking any responsibility.

Genealogy Process (How M became N)

1). Origin of Form starts from a basic square which contains 4 open spline edges
2). Splines are extruded into caps that create an exponential number of open splines.
3.) Extrusions are opened and warped to change the central line of symmetry
4). Minor and major lines of symmetry are created into a plate ready to be connected.
5). Open splines are all connected creating a closed object with multiple lines of symmetry.


The plate is deformed by a simple formal arrangement allowing the original plate to stretch and skew warping lines of minor and major symmetry.

Technique is amplified into a central object containing over 500 lines of internal symmetry.

Central Symmetrical object is then deformed by another near symmetrical object (program massing) creating a play between the symmetry of the program mass and the articulation of the small detail symmetry of the pre- deformed object in line 3.

Family Tree

The process of near symmetry is evolved along the project, creating a central line of symmetry for the project. As the project is split further and further into its origins it is possible to notice a breaking down from the larger formal symmetry from the original deformation to the smaller articulations from the pre deformed object. This tree is a snippet from the larger line of formal genealogy which breaks down all the way to the original M and N which was the multiplication of a single square.

Site Aerial

The Project is located at dock 30 in San fransico allowing for easy access and sight-lines to the majority of the city.

Entrance Elevation

M&N contains 2 entrances and 2 exits for incoming firetrucks as well as employees for underground parking at the dock level.

North Elevation

M&N deforms from a a horizontal line of symmetry by using the large formal gesture of a sphere as equally splitting the side with denotating a central point splitting dock area from entrance.

Firetruck Garage Chunk

A smaller chunk showing the arrangement of parking for interior fire trucks. The garage has capacity for 8 firetrucks and 5 exterior trucks . The lower dock level has space for 2 large fire boats as well as an adjacent parking area for employees holding 22 parking spaces. A single helipad sits on the exterior of the dormitory area allowing a simple transition from living to working.

Northwest Perspective

The most pertinent view in showing the large interior extrusions poking through exterior carapace.

Entrance to Interior

The interior Oject of M&N also contains lines of near symmetry and creates large formal gestures that a more akin to the predeformed technique and show a simpler pairing of M and N that is easier to trace.

Interior Skin isolated

Southeast Iso

Iso Cutaway

Iso Cutaway Details

Exterior Chunk

Section Parallel Projection Tilted

Sushi Cut Section

3d Print section model

By: Danny Karas
Studio Professor: Hernan Diaz Alonso
TA: Ivan Bernal

In analysis of the modern skyscraper there is traditionally an aesthetic agenda that localizes itself in a “shoes” or “hat” location. The tower typology has ignored the possibility of a center distortion. This distortion acts as an aesthetic element as well as an organizational(programmatic) locator. By designing from the middle out there is a chance for the building to better blend with its context by keeping the processional elements in the center. Entrance and roof conditions mimic their tower brothers and give a moments rest in the exuberance of design. This proposal creates a center distortion and layers form through a simulation of gravity and the“claspyness” of the outer skin. The inner void acts as a way of creating a Secretary oriented office program rather than a traditional first floor security, freeing up the center of the building to the public. The project looks to rationalize itself through components rather than a monolithic form.
Ultimately the project yearns for build-ability as a way of taking the next step in digital design. This project is less about the result and more about the statement of digital production. Just as the machine revolution allowed the 1920's working man 8 hours of freedom, the digital project of the 10's gives the designer extra time to work on other elements like texturing and design development. Ultimately this project is a statement of the speed and quality that digital design can create and how this revolution of speed can give the architect a greater chance to impact that project outside of pure form making. Architect's can now impact design into the later stages sooner and potentially prevent some value engineering and hopefully stop the slow erasure of architects in building.

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Keep It All Inside


Sir. John Soane Museum, London, England
Instructor: Hernan Diaz Alonso
TA: Ivan Bernal

Carving in architecture is typically subjected to material that is quite homogeneous in relation to the scale in which it is buildable (carving out a marble column).

Cutting out portions of material from a preexisting heterogeneous mass offers a very disparate method to producing constructible material. In this case, the scale of material already has form. Because of this and unlike that of a marble column, cutting up the material is not the only way a designed figure derives its form.

Two different sophistically detailed primitives serve as the base objects in which cuts are made and chucks removed from. One primitive is hard and porous in nature; the other is soft and fatty.

Certain constraints like weight, porosity and enclosure all influence the location and direction of each cut on the primitive. The topology of each cut is in relation what part of the initial object is being cut and where the removed piece will be situated against the others. There could be larger cuts through some of the more porous areas and smaller cuts along the thicker more massive areas. This allows for a certain level of control over the outcome, but is ultimately subjected to the character of the initial mass in which it was cut from. After a series of these chucks have been carved out, they are assembled together.

The result is a miscreation, neither a complete deliberately designed thing nor the unauthored original object it stemmed from.

Shaping form in this manner changes the relationship of material to the thing it embodies. Now, instead of the architectural model serving as a reference to build from, it is a stage in which model and material are of the same process. Different chunks are continually being dismembered, combined, left in place or removed again - constituting a process of production based in deformity.


Instructor: Andrew Atwood

Projection: Projection in orthographic view is one of the techniques used to created the imagery. The projection of shade and shadow onto 3 Dimensional objects like a sphere or square give new insight to how we understand depth within a 2 Dimensional image. Animated projection was also used by projecting animated shadow movements onto a sectional relief model to produce and object whose depth is continuously changing and being altered.

Geometry: The geometry was created on an outside first, inside second process. The outside geometry is meant to be a convex, multi-sided object that has been smoothed to remove any hard edges, much like a weathered rock. This produces a sort of Michael Meyers (Halloween mask) type effect. A single hard edge and sculpted cut out of the object gives it a point to be oriented against. Instances of shadow were then interpreted and painted on the outside to produce levels of ambiguity within the object, moments where you are unsure if geometry extends into darkness or brightness or if it stops short. The inside of the object is separated from the outside, rather than just an offset, these squares intersected by spheres allow us to understand the difference between a hard edge and a soft “edge” and how the projection of imagery can enhance or fake those moments.

Hatching: Hatching was the primary technique used to interpret shade and shadow and is what helps tie the entire project together by giving a single direction to the hatching that is continuous throughout the project. Different densities of hatch help darken, lighten, flatten, or add contrast to each image and the single type of hatch in the same direction do not over clutter the composition. Diagonal structured components were used to enforce the direction of the imagery.

The New Painterly from Austin Samson on Vimeo.

Moving Shadow Projection from Austin Samson on Vimeo.

Limn DD: Danny Karas, Jeff Halstead, Austin Samson, Nanyen Chen, Lung Chi Chang

Design Development for Limn. The Project is Sci-Arc's uinique take on building documentation. Rather then creating a "booklet" of many building details, the project is presented as one large drawing. The representation is referencing the traditional cutaway drawing found in industrial design.


Danny Karas
Instructor: Ramiro Diaz-Granados

In his recent publication Antoine Picon makes a case for the connection between traditional (pre-modernist)
ornamental practices and its contemporary expression. He counters the message conveyed by
the founding fathers of modernism, arguing that traditional ornament was not meant solely for pleasure,
that it participated in the expression of social values, hierarchy, and order. While these specific criteria are
no longer relevant today, the need to define and express collective values is. This project focused on
contemporary techniques and subject matter towards the development of an ornamental object.
Traditonal ornament relied heavily on botanical and animal imagery resulting in a specfic array of motifs
and elements. This Project looks to the culinary arts for material, content, and imagery. Using advanced digital techniques such as 3d scanning and voxel-based modeling we will reconfi gure our source material into a
unifi ed assemblage of texture, pattern, color, & topology.

Instructor: Juan Rois

There exists a growing pressure on the Chicago airports of O’Hare and Midway to expand into neighboring communities destroying local houses and businesses. In order to alleviate this pressure there is a need for an interconnecting route that manages to condense the extraneous functions of the airport in an exterior infrastructural connection. By establishing a building that can compress the growing programmatic stresses of the Chicago airports, an infrastructural node can be established that connects the Airports by modifying and expanding the preexisting Chicago CTA blue and orange lines into an optimized high speed rail system. By extending the orange line from midway to Halsted and building an above ground blue line rail from the UIC- Halsted stop comes an unbroken high-speed rail in-between both airports which provides 7 minute airport transfers. By establishing the only stop at the famous circle interchange of I-90 and 290 a plinth can be built atop the preexisting highway infrastructure that creates an interconnected system of roads and rail that allow the inhabitant to reach any location of the city at ease. “Node” integrates the idea of the “kiss and drop” that exists within airports which allows car riders to drive into the building from the existing highways and drop off or pick up their love ones from a mobious line that connects with the rail station as well as convenience or overnight parking meaning you will never have to drive your friend to the airport at 5am ever again.