Daniel Cardoso Llach (SMArchS and Ph.D. in Architecture from MIT) recently published a book titled Builders of the Vision: Software and the Imagination of Design (New York: Routledge, 2015). His investigations shed light on the social and political histories of digital design software in the years following World War II through the present. Software systems and numeric-based machines are read, not as “instruments” or “tools," but as socio-technical infrastructures that have shaped the built world of today and will undoubtedly affect the design of future buildings, cities, and artifacts. Llach engages the technologies comprising contemporary architectural practice in a way that brings them to bear on the criticality of both the political and poetic realms of design. Included in the book is an examination of the role of MIT laboratories in pioneering CAD and numerical control technologies during the postwar years.
1- Reconstruction of an original drawing produced by the Whirlwind Computer using APT II and APT III Programs in 1958, representing the automated three-dimensional motion of the milling tool during fabrication.
2- The first numerically controlled machines used punched cards and tape as media. Each row in the tape contained an instruction or “command” for the machine. The photograph shows a program in punched paper tape developed by Douglas Ross. Courtesy of MIT Libraries, Institute Archives and Special Collections, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Douglas T. Ross papers, MC 414, box 213. All rights reserved. Photo credit: author.
3- Parametric modeling environments offer users the possibility of modeling through establishing networks of mathematical and geometric dependency. Model by the author.