Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Architecture

Committee Member

Vincent Blouin, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Carols Barrios

Committee Member

Gregory Mocko

Committee Member

Matthew Powers

Committee Member

Matthew Saltzman


The implementation of computational form-finding structural optimization methods has recently mushroomed in the architectural research area. There has been a few emerging architectural parametric Computer-Aided Design (CAD) systems that enable architects to perform early schematic form-finding structural optimization such as the coupling of Grasshopper (a visual programming language), Karamba (a structural analysis plugin) and Galapagos (an optimization plugin). However, the application of the method is very rare in both educational and design practice environments. Also, the architectural schematic design phase is commonly characterized by free-form shapes without the embedded considerations of the material and structural system. On the other hand, the considerations of materiality and structural system are often more properly imposed by structural engineers, who usually prefer to be involved as early as possible in the project. Seen from this perspectives, this research examines the implementation of structural optimization in the architectural schematic design phase; investigate the accessibility and usability of existing architectural structural optimization tools; and study the interoperability and integration of architectural parametric CAD tools and engineering analysis and optimization tools as well as the usability of these tools. This research uses Grounded Theory for data collection and analysis procedure to investigate those research concerns. A comparative study of software is also used to examine the second research concern. Semi-structured interviews are used to acquire in-depth understanding of the participants' responses towards incorporating architectural structural optimization procedure in the context of the collaboration between architects and engineers. Students and faculty, with years of design practice experience, in Clemson University are used as the target population for the interview process. Five architectural, form-finding structural optimization methods are developed to facilitate the interview process. Improvements of the tools are made based on the participants' responses towards the usefulness of the tools. Finally, guidelines concerning the implementation of the developed architectural structural optimization for the educational and design practice purposes were developed. The design guidelines are developed with the aim to better the communication between architects and engineers during the collaboration process. This research believes that participants' in-depth responses toward the contemporary architectural design issues and the developed methods are the essential driving forces that help this research in finding ways to improve the collaboration between architects and structural engineers.