Within Texas there is an emerging network of companies, institutions, and individuals focusing on the exploration of parametric design and the digital production of building components. Specifically, there is a growing opportunity for collaborative exchange between the academic, technical, and professional communities by leveraging the immense resources found in some of the largest metropolitan centers across the United States.
TEX-FAB was formed in 2009 by Brad Bell, Kevin Patrick McClellan, and Andrew Vrana. With Bell, McClellan and Vrana each teaching digital fabrication curriculum at University of Texas Arlington, University of Texas San Antonio, and University of Houston respectively, there was a pre-existing mutual interest and dialogue in place. What was evident out of these conversations was a strong awareness of similarity in situation. We all shared and were cultivating relationships with fabricators, academics, and professionals in the urban centers where we lived. We were all leveraging our universities as a bridge back into the community to strengthen ties for the purpose of applied learning opportunities for our students. We were all very interested in developing digital fabrication techniques and methods that investigated substantive and material realities. Our journey to this point was not impetuous. Our educational trajectories all started back with connections at Texas A&M twenty years prior. Over the following two decades, dialogue, and at times collaborative exploration, laid a framework that facilitated the formation of TEX-FAB.
Three primary tenants frame TEX-FAB’s methods and provide specific ways in which the collection, distribution, and sharing of information about digital fabrication and parametric modeling take place: Theoria (Lectures / Exhibitions), Poiesis (Workshops) and Praxis (Competitions / Commissions). These three avenues are not unique by themselves, and are not also found collectively in other regions. However, it is when we survey our own context and examined the unique opportunities within the Texas and Southwest Region we see TEX-FAB filling a vital role in shaping the discourse.
Lecture offerings provided or co-hosted by TEX-FAB to date have attempted to provide a broad range of exploration into digital fabrication. Lecturers are from both the academic, professional and fabrication communities, all with significant accomplishments within the field. As well exhibitions have become a central element to our TEX-FAB event 2.0 in Houston. In the Fall of 2011 TEX-FAB will launch our first traveling exhibition feature the work of the recently completed international competition hosted by our organization entitled REPEAT. In doing so this will allow some of the work, generated from a broad and divers audience to be brought into a more focused and more deeply penetrated regional set of regional venues to disseminate the work. We see the combination of hosting competitions and moving then subsequently rolling the work into a traveling exhibition as a potent combination of reaching further into the region beyond our symposia and events.
Workshops are currently the primary avenue for education and direct interaction between academics, professionals, industry partners, students and professionals. TEX-FAB maintains a policy of reserving half of all available seats for students and at the same time aggressive pursues participants from a wide range of architecture and affiliated design offices through out the region. Workshops are two-day events led by internationally recognized instructors within the field of parametric modeling and provide a robust opportunity for participants to be exposed to the highest level of concentrated learning possible.
Competitions are the third and most far reaching of the three TEX-FAB tenants. The competition is a platform for a very diverse set of designers to explore the potential of parametric modeling. Unique to our mission however is a desire to see competitions result in a built commission – regardless of scale. So to that end, TEX-FAB sees the process of fabrication coming out of the competition to be one that can leverage the TEX-FAB network and utilize it’s inherent values to provide a robust support system for fabrication, installation, and construction. In the summer of 2010 TEX-FAB took on the ambitious task of hosting an international design competition.