Supercomputing takes classroom architecture simulations to new heights

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Mar 15, 2022) — 

Rendering models is a key part of the modern architectural design process. Brendan Ho, a professor in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design at Kent State University, helps students analyze the spaces they live and work in. Rendering has been an essential component in his studio Encapsulated Episodes, co-taught with Director Ivan Bernal.

Brendan Ho
Brendan Ho

Students in Ho’s studio simulate elements such as light, movement, and materiality in their interior renderings. The average personal computer is not well equipped to handle the complexity of these simulations, so renderings lack sufficient detail. With help from the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC), students in Ho’s class have been able to run their simulations at full resolution with ease.

“Being able to work with OSC really enables the students to explore ideas to their full potential,” Ho said. “They are able to see what their designs look like fully rendered out, without noise or pixelation. 

Utilizing OSC’s high-performance computing capabilities, Ho’s students are able to adjust aspects of their simulations and continually test them. Ho teaches an iterative approach to architectural design through creation, testing, and evaluation. The ability to edit simulations and test them repeatedly helps familiarize students with that process. 

Thanks to OSC’s reliable performance and on-demand access, students gain the additional benefit of more time to actively work on their designs during class, without having to leave extra time at the end to account for slow rendering speeds.

“Students would typically end up with fewer iterations of their projects with lower resolution renderings,” Ho said. “OSC enables students to have more time to push their design ideas by spending less time on production.”

The experience gained by interacting with high-performance computing resources not only enhances students’ architectural studies but prepares them for future experiences and careers. 

“We’re pushing students to think about large-scale concepts, to enable them to be agents of change worldwide,” Ho said. “They need to be able to understand how to interact with supercomputers in order to evaluate and understand the complex systems that make up our environments.” 

Brendan Ho webpage