“We are currently experiencing a digital revolution where creative fields are directly benefiting from the increasing capabilities of digital interfaces and rapid prototyping,” said David Greenstein, Director of Public Programs and Continuing Education at The Cooper Union. “The certificate program creates a rare opportunity for each student to develop an individual strategy and create physical forms in his/her discipline or cross boundaries among several disciplines.”

Digital Representation and Fabrication Program Director: Pablo Lorenzo-Eiroa

The program is organized as a series of workshops that explore the ways designers, architects, engineers and scientists collect, analyze, assemble and represent information through computational systems. The courses relate to the possibilities and limitations offered by the capabilities of digital interfaces and automated fabrication. Contemporary domination of the digital medium does not rely solely on the expertise of the latest program, but implies the development of personalized analogical strategies to cut through the homogenization and standardization of many programs. The aim of the courses is to provide a spectrum of possibilities to produce, organize, manipulate and construct two and three-dimensional form.

In artistic disciplines, technology has been marking its advancement through bringing innovation by the means through which the artist accesses reality, through the mediums and the interfaces that structure and open possibilities to access other unknown dimensions previously hidden from his/her knowledge.   With the accessibility to prototyping machines these problems have been extended. It is my understanding of the role of Cooper Union and its histories and theories developed at The School of Architecture guided by John Hejduk and now by Anthony Vidler that it is not the aim just to implement the newest technology but to question representation and open up possibilities that are inherent to the creative process.

The aim of this certificate is to emphasize the specificity of a interdisciplinary potential, which recognizes the role of computation in processing the relational capacity of systems and structures. What seems interesting is the shifting character of the designer, which similar to Brunelleschi's times in the Renaissance, the domination of the technique of representation propelled the logic of the work. Digital fabrication is breaking the separation between representation, notation and the reality of the built project. Fabrication bypasses scalar notation and is breaking current economic-repetitive paradigms, since for the machine a simple form is the same as an extravagant one and millions of polygons take the same time than a few. Before, the designer had to propose a design and then find out means to communicate the execution of this design through representation to be built, such as an architect needed to prepare the plans for construction. With fabrication this distance is broken since today there are machines that can even execute an entire building without the necessity to translate the drawings or prepare drawings that are exclusively for construction.

Another form of a structuralism that resist the linearity of abstract relational systems is the current investigation in nano materials and bio materials. New ranges of observation not only present challenges to representation but also to how we understand reality and the acting forces in materials make us understand counter intuitive forms of reasoning.  Additionally, responsive spaces can be fully programmable and one of the questions that emerge is if the relationships they establish could be critical of the conditions that emerge.  

The are several objectives that organize the aims of the certificate. In relation to digital form, the aim is to investigate the different means of understanding form generation relative to interfaces and how they structure information, critically addressing the different codes and algorithms that process information and that inform the characteristics and ideology of the form created in digital interfaces. This can help artist develop innovative form generation for sculpture projects, help engineers understand the formal behavior of the physics implicit in structures through vectorial simulation, and assist architects or designers interested in creating, organizing and manipulation complex radical novel forms. In relation to the output of information the aim is to understand critically the problems and questions that arise in the output of processed data and information from the digital to the physical. The certificate is aimed to revise this translation through known strategies and to help each student develop his/her own strategy for digital fabrication using the available tools through analog and digital systems, helping students to understand the logic of the materials used and how to understand the available technology for fabrication and the logic that these technologies activate in the project.

In regards to physical computation the aim is to work out courses that would help students program software but also coordinate these software with computer chips and sensors to design physical interactive responsive spaces.  The certificate is also developing courses on environmental simulation that will not only study the known strategies for testing the efficiency of spaces against energy waste but also find means to innovate in the design of spaces that consider a sensibility towards the environment. The certificate is also developing additionally courses to develop biomaterials to help designers work with the creation of live materials understanding form through growth and time.

Pablo Lorenzo-Eiroa


Introduction to Digital 3-D Modeling and Interfaces. Carlos Meza

Introduction to Parametric Design (Rhinoceros 3d Grasshopper). Professors Gil Akos and Ronnie Parsons

Advanced Parametric Design (Rhinoceros 3d Grasshopper). Professors Gil Akos and Ronnie Parsons

Introduction and advanced topics in fluid form, topology and animation (Autodesk Maya). Professor James Lowder

Introduction and advanced topics in Digital Fabrication (3d printing, CNC, Laser Cutter). Carlos Meza

Physical Computation (Sensor programming with Arduino). Engenieering Professor Abrar Rahman

More courses to be developed within the upcoming months...