Employing Topology Optimization for Establishing Design Variability in Precast Façade Panels

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


A hallmark of the industrial revolution was standardization in production, while the digital age is characterized by variation and non-standardization. The ability to create variation in degree and kind will not only be an aesthetic driver but potentially will enable us to shape projects specifically for programmatic need, structural capacity, and material properties. Nonetheless, the discipline of architecture has increased awareness of the environmental impact of material use and production methods, which has shifted attention to repeatability and reusability, material waste, material CO2 emissions, and other involved factors such as labor. This shift is more pronounced in the design and fabrication of concrete elements used in building envelopes since both material and mold design can impact the environment. As a result, customized repetitive manufacturing (CRM) is well suited to address today’s design needs for achieving complexity and variability while considering standardized fabrication methods and processes. This research study focuses on the design of precast elements used in facades. It first classifies design variability in architectural panels based on a survey of sixteen built precedents. With this classification, the design of panels is critically evaluated to save on materials using computational design methods, namely topology optimization. Topology optimization is used to determine the placement of openings considering the structural performance of the panels. The tools used for design include Rhino, Grasshopper, and a plugin for topology optimization. The CO2 emissions of panels with different porosities are assessed to understand the relation between surface area of concrete panels and their environmental impact. The results of this study demonstrate innovative design approaches for precast panels used in building envelopes to save on materials and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the ARCC-EAAE 2022 International Conference
EditorsChris Jarrett, Adil Sharag-Eldin
PublisherArchitectural Research Centers Consortium
ISBN (Electronic)9781935129318
StatePublished - 2022
EventARCC-EAAE 2022 International Conference - Florida International University, Miami, United States
Duration: Mar 2 2022Mar 5 2022


ConferenceARCC-EAAE 2022 International Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Digital design and practices
  • precast concrete
  • facades
  • volumetric elements
  • topology optimization


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