School of Architecture

Design Computation

Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

Computation is an essential part of everyday life.  It mediates our social interactions, our news, and it is embedded in many of the physical objects that we interact with.  In this environment, design requires the use and understanding of computation. The Bachelor of Science in Design Computation develops computational literacy as essential to a broad multidisciplinary undergraduate education.  Computational literacy is created through both technical and critical frameworks. 

Students in the program will gain fluency in programming languages, software, and hardware.  This fluency enables the design of objects, software, and spaces.  It also enables the critical evaluation of the biases and values embedded within specific software and languages.  Graduates of the program will be versed in contemporary software, programming, robotics, and digital fabrication.

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Our Five Tracks

The program develops Computation Designers through the five following tracks:

History and Theory

Describe the work of others in the field of computational design, position their work within it, and consider the broader consequences of the work within culture and society, particularly as it pertains to questions of economic and social equity and environmental issues.

Technology and Making 

Create computational strategies using appropriate and up-to-date available technical tools, fabrication methods, and programming languages to address design problems. 

Media Computation

Compose interactive media, user experiences, user interfaces, and software with consideration or aesthetics, efficiency, social, environmental, and political issues. 

Design Computation 

Compose interactive media, physical prototypes, objects, building components, and software that respond to a specific design problem. 

Professional Practice 

Discuss design strategies in a manner that translates complex technical issues into language understandable by multiple audiences including designers, engineers, investors, customers, and the general public. 

Design Computation Courses

The below content provides the course descriptions of all courses in the Design Computation program.  The courses are grouped according to tracks of knowledge:  Technology and Making, History and Theory, Professional Practice, and Design Computation Studio. 

Click below to see a draft of our course requirements.

Course Requirements

Technology and Making 1: Introduction to Design Computation
This course will introduce students to the fundamental principles of design with computational tools. The class will ask students to design a computational model in the pursuit of a specific design problem. The potential of computational tools to enable and structure the design process through both iterative and variant-based design strategies will be explored. Types of representation such as axonometry, orthography, perspective will be examined in both renderings and line-based representations.

Technology and Making 2: Fabrication and Design Computation
This course will introduce students to the fabrication of objects through the use of computational tools. The class will ask students to develop a computational model that generates a series of fabrication-ready digital files. Issues of material tolerance, nesting, connections, and hybrid modes of fabrication will be explored in the model. In addition to the digital portion of the class, a hands-on approach to digital fabrication will require students to use a variety of digital and conventional tools within Woodbury University’s making complex.

Technology and Making 3: Topics in Design Computation (elective)
This course will introduce students to contemporary topics in the processing and analysis of data in design computation. Topics may include sensing, collecting, processing, and analyzing data in regard to the city, the environment, and society. Students will be introduced to sensing live data with hardware and software as well as graphic techniques for communicating outcomes. The critical examination of computational bias will be an essential component of the inquiry, as students collect, analyze, and communicate the outcomes of their research.

Technology and Making 4: Architecture and Robotics
This course will offer a focused study of robotics. Students will learn the general principals of robotic interface, set-up, tooling, and programming. At the core of the class will be the design and production of an object enabled by the use of robotics.

CSDC 415 Technology and Making 5: Building Information Modeling
This course will introduce students to Building Information Modeling (BIM), the architecture and engineering industry standard for design documentation. Students will learn to build, manage, and troubleshoot BIM models. In addition, students will learn to use both visual scripting and text based scripting interfaces to control and generate BIM models.

CSDC 301 History and Theory
This course will provide students with a broad historical context for contemporary computational design. Focusing on the relationship between technical systems, social systems, and aesthetic experimentation, it starts by examining design’s relationship to engineering and social sciences in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and ends with the introduction of computation to aesthetic production during the late 1950s through the 1980s. This course will help students ground their work in design studios and technical seminars in a historically-informed understanding of their chosen field of study. Instruction will be provided through short lectures and seminar discussions based on assigned readings from key texts that shaped the field. Assignments will include short-form writing and a term paper. Since text and writing play an important role in the development of computational aesthetics, students will be introduced to computational writing techniques as a way of generating ideas.

CSDC 302 Technology and Architecture Principles
This course provides students with a theoretical foundation and framework for contemporary computational design practice. Focusing on the relationship between technology, aesthetics, and social critique, the course presents a range of theories from early computational subjectivities in the form of the “user” to the collective urban activism of network culture. It presents the architectural formalist turn of the 1990s and the materialist turn of the 2010s in the context of broader frameworks of human agency and politics.

CSDC 250 Programming Portfolio
This course will provide students with principles and tools for the design of a professional portfolio. Students will use online resources to generate a web-based portfolio that contains evidence of computational proficiency and design proficiency through the display of objects, images, time-based media, and student-built interfaces. The portfolio itself will be considered an object of design and the principle of user interface and experience will be discussed and implemented.

CSDC 360 Building Systems (elective)
This course explores the foundations and contemporary techniques of architectural structure, envelope, interior, and their control through intelligent software systems. Focusing on the technical rather than the formal, it surveys contemporary building systems and how their performance is regulated through sensor networks and software control systems, including implementations of artificial neural networks. Students will be asked to produce a detailed report on a specific system, describing in detail its hardware and software components. Students will also learn the basic skills of system design through flow diagramming and object modeling.

CSDC 365 Lighting and Acoustics (elective)
This course takes the same approach as that of CSDC 360 but is applied specifically to lighting and acoustic systems rather than structure and envelope. This focus of the course is thus concerned primarily with interior environments and how we shape them using light and sound. The course will pay particular attention to recent developments in intelligent systems and their application to the shaping of our perception of interior environments.

CSDC 470 Professional Practice
This course introduces students to the principles and practices that are central to contemporary ways of working in a professional setting. It asks how we work with digital tools. The course examines the reciprocity between changes in technology and changes in working methods. Working in groups on real-world problems, students will learn about a range of practices, from Extreme Programming and Lean Manufacturing to contemporary agile methods such as Scrum. The course ends with a survey of workflows central to contemporary design practice, from conception to fabrication. Throughout, students will be asked to consider questions of equity in the workplace and how our working methods reinforce and challenge social and cognitive biases.

CSDC 320 Design Computation Studio 1: Programming for Architecture
This course is the first studio in the design sequence. It allows students to apply their practical and theoretical knowledge to the design of a single object, assembly, or system according to parametric principles. Students will be asked to articulate their intention, sketch a workflow, and document their process. By the end, students will have learned some of the fundamental organizational principles of architectural design, how to apply custom scripts to a parametric model and describe the results through drawings, fabricated model or prototype, and a written specification, and understand the importance of collaborative workflows. Units: 3

CSDC 330 Design Computation Studio 2: Building Systems
This course builds on CSDC 320 by applying the processes learned there to a more complex design problem. Where the previous studio investigated the design of a simple object or assembly, this studio explores the challenge of designing a kinetic/dynamic system at the scale of a physical environment. Students will learn principles of interaction, responsiveness, and kinetic design, using progressively more sophisticated computational tools and scripting.

CSDC 440 Design Computation Studio 3: Capstone Research
This is the first course in a two-course sequence that is the capstone of the Design Computation program. During this semester, students will engage in instructor-directed research on a specific topic in design computation. As a capstone studio, it is expected that the work of the semester will use the instrumental aspects of design computation to engage social, political, or environmental issues related to design and/or the built environment. The culmination of the semester will be a proposal for a design project to be completed during the spring semester.

CSDC 450 Design Computation Studio 4: Capstone
This is the second course in the capstone studio sequence in which students develop the design proposal from the fall semester. As a capstone studio the final project should use the techniques, theories, and instrumental knowledge acquired in the program to produce an object, interface, or environment that engages a contemporary social, political, or environmental issue.