Towards A Data Driven Fabrication Process

A Case Study of the Engineering, Fabrication and Installation of the Center Street Parking Garage Metal Facade in Berkeley, California



Photo of Becher Neme

Becher Neme


Neme Design Studio

Photo of Michael Kilkelly

Michael Kilkelly




Today's evolving digital tools allow designers to be more creative in designing new forms and geometries. Adapting similar tools to the fabrication and installation of these geometries helps manage the complexity of these forms and control their costs.

The Center Street Parking Garage is an eight-story building in downtown Berkeley, CA. The facade of the building was designed with nearly 2000 pieces of folded metal panels. The perforation types, sizes, and bent angles of the panels vary considerably from panel to panel. Parametric software was used extensively to optimize the design for fabrication.

First, a detailed 3D model was used to design the attachment system and coordinate the interface between primary structure, secondary structure, and the envelope. Next, the coordination model was developed into a more precise fabrication model.

Panel dimensions and angles were extracted from the fabrication model to Excel, which became the primary source of panel data. Macros were used to reformat the data and generate the panel identification tags. Likewise, the panel sizes and perforation types were consolidated in Excel to a set of 280 panel types. Once optimized, the Excel spreadsheet was used to generate the fabrication drawings and CNC files.

Given the tight schedule and small team, the LOA or Level of Automation framework was used to guide the automation process.

Relying on digital tools and automation allowed for the standardization of the complex facade design. Likewise, automating many of the tasks reduced the risk of human error and facilitated multiple rounds of quality control before fabrication commenced.


This case study explores the design and engineering of a complex geometric metal rain screen facade using a parametric and data-driven process to facilitate metal panel fabrication and installation.

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Project Context

The author team, in collaboration with California Panel Systems won the bid for the engineering and fabrication of the metal rain screen facade of the Center Street Parking Garage.


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Facade System Description

The metal screen system consists of two parts:

A secondary steel structure that attaches to the building's primary structure.The folded and perforated metal panels attached to the secondary system.Figure 2

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Design vs. Fabrication Models

The initial design of the facade was produced using two digital platforms: Revit and Rhino.

The architect documented the facade panels by grouping them by bay and by perforation

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Panel Identification

With over 2000 panels in each facade, two systems were required to identify each panel; one for fabrication and the other for installation. This required the author team to devise

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The LOA Framework

Given the complexity of the project and time-constraints imposed by the construction schedule, the author team determined that much of the process would need to be automated. However, this automation

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A Data-Driven Documentation Process

Once the model was regenerated in CATIA, the raw data describing each panel's geometry was extracted to Excel. Given its precision and ease of interoperability, the Excel spreadsheet became the

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Conclusion and Future Work

For this project, the 3D model was not the final product. Instead, it was used as a means to generate dimensional data. Instead, the container of this data, the Excel

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Thanks for the following people for their contribution on the project and in providing information for this paper:

Donn Logan, Principal at Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects

Scott Hollingsworth, Vice President at California Panel Systems

Luis Peris, Director of Engineering at California Panel Systems

Lia Tramontini, Facade Consultant and 3D specialist

Douglass Glenn, Engineer, Catia surfaces specialist

Stephan Kordt, President at Kordt Engineering Group