The Intersection of Design, Culture and Technology: Exploring New Frontiers in Computing and the Built Environment

Categories: Architecture Engineering Construction People & Culture Custom Manufacturing

Thanks to advances in computing hardware and software, the development of new materials, and the increasingly accessible infinite computing power of the cloud, Autodesk is embarking on a new era of computer-aided design. A key component of this expansion is a collaboration with David Benjamin and the acquisition of his architecture and design firm, The Living, to create an innovative, first-of-its-kind Autodesk Studio.

1_David-BenjaminDavid Benjamin: “This will enable The Living to do more of what we are already doing and 'super-charge it.”

As part of Autodesk Research, the studio will create new types of buildings, public installations, prototypes, and architectural environments. Together, we will be able to actively experiment and rapidly deploy these new design methodologies in the physical world and the built environment.

Autodesk and The Living have been working together closely for several years on research and development projects in the fields of architecture, art, industrial design, aerospace, computer science, engineering, manufacturing and synthetic biology. The acquisition and the next phase in our partnership will amplify this collaboration and research.


The Living is well known for bringing new technologies to life in the built environment. In the past few years, The Living has created a wide range of futuristic designs involving innovative approaches such as using bacteria to manufacture building materials, writing algorithms to enhance creativity and explore designs beyond typical rules of thumb, and developing new urban spaces that promote collectivity and culture. Current projects include a university building for research on next-generation robotics and a floating pier in New York’s East River that uses live mussels to track water quality and then change color accordingly.


One of the latest examples of The Living’s approach was unveiled this week at the MoMA PS1 courtyard in Long Island City. The temporary installation, called Hy-Fi, was created in part using Autodesk software. Hy-Fi will provide seating, water, and shade for the 2014 Warm Up summer music program. The revolutionary design features a 40-foot-tall structure made up of tens of thousands of bricks grown from corn stalks and mushroom roots. The building involves almost no waste, no embodied energy, and no carbon emissions—and it will be composted when the installation closes at the end of the summer.


The work of the new Autodesk Studio will help change how the world is designed and made. Stay tuned, we’ll have more news soon….