Alexandra Wilson Tutorial


Categories: Tutorials


ATCT from corner


This past semester I utilized grasshopper to design an air traffic control tower for studio. The lessons learned in the grasshopper course helped me to visualize the structure for the building I was designing. Essentially using grasshopper to create a diagrid structural system that encased an inner core. The tutorial breaks down the process I went through to design the tower and how others can adjust my script to utilize it in their own projects at a later time.


Based Mass

The tower was designed by initially looking at the spires of Prague and by closely studying Czech cubism as it was used in an architectural sense. The tower is meant to be elliptical at the base and mold into a circular mass near the top. To accomplish this unusual shape, Rhino 3ds was utilized by lofting the 3 curves together. The base mass is then able to be used to create a diagrid structure of similar proportions. The stair core is then able to fit within the structure and help support the upper floors.

PreLoft Tower Lofted Image

First Diagrid Attempt

The diagrid was able to be easily created after downloading the LunchBox plug-in( After connecting the mass to the deconstructed brep so the geometry’s surface could be divided into its many parts, the diagrid component was able to be utilized.  The first attempt at the diagrid, however was not structurally sound enough to support the upper floors of the tower. By looking at other diagrid options in the LunchBox plug-in, it was determined that the braced grid 2-D structure would be the most suitable for this project. This was the best option in that it contained both horizontal and vertical secondary support structure, unlike the first attempted diagrid structure. At this point one can determine if they need the vertical supports or not to stabilize their structure. I chose to change the layer of the vertical supports to be able to turn it on and off as needed throughout the design process.

First Attempt at grid 1st attempt grid all togetehr Original Script

First Attempted Diagrid

Vertical Attachments New Attempt Grid 2

Vertical and Horizontal Support Structure

Adjustments to Diagrid Structure

The structure can be adjusted by changing the sliders connected to the diagrid component. The U-value changes the number of units vertically while the V-value changes the number of units on each horizontal plane. To be able to make the diagrid into a 3-dimensional structure, pipe components were added as were sliders to be able to control the radius of the pipes. The only problem came along when trying to create 3-dimensional nodes. The script fails if a pipe component is added. The solution was to include a sphere component and slider to determine the size needed for the structure. Each of the sliders create different diagrid schemes and it is important to test which one works best for your project.

New Script

New Script

Nodes and inner Grid




Node and Pipe Adjustments

Final Model

Final Model

Finishing Up and Future Grasshopper Continuations

Learning how to script has been a great yet challenging experience these past few months. The script was first created before meeting with a structural engineer for a critique of our work. The script was then expanded and manipulated over the course of a month until the design was structurally correct and aesthetically pleasing, or as close to that as I could achieve. The next step in the design if I choose to expand upon my grasshopper skills would be to figure out a way to create the structural grid that ran horizontally on the diagrid structure and connect it to the inner core. Currently this structure was created in Rhino 3ds but should be relatively simple to link these components in the future. Combining them in some way would increase cohesiveness within the tower and make it easier to update the model as it changes. The limit to this script overall is that it can only be used to attach a diagrid to an already created geometry, however I believe I have shown progress over my understanding of the grasshopper program and am overall quite happy with the end script and tower and the solutions it helped me discover and create.

Idea for fixing model Inner Grid Script that couldnt be combined

Future Development of Ideas

looking up at ATCT (1)


Final Render and Final Script: Diagrid