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Issue 6.2

Prolegomena to Computational Design

In 1989, I left Scotland for the Carnegie Mellon School of Architecture to help revamp the graduate program in the building sciences. Together with other colleagues, including Ömer Akin, Ulrich Flemming, and Rob Woodbury, we shared a common vision for applying computing to design problems, each of us contributing a different background or expertise.1The program reflected our work and research, with a curriculum and ethos looking beyond computer-aided design. To name the program, I invented “computational design,” as design is computational in nature. The moniker stuck, and the “discipline for developing or applying computation to problems with their origins in design” was inaugurated.2 In 1989, Carnegie Mellon was the first school to offer a Master and Ph.D. in Computational Design (CD). This essay outlines that history.

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