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Algorithm enabled parametric BIM: 5 steps to getting started

Tekla Structures model of cable-stayed bridge alongside artist impression

In the first article of this two-part series, we explained algorithm enabled parametric BIM (some simply call it parametric design or algorithmic modelling) and shared some of the ways structural engineers are using this workflow to quickly explore complex design alternatives.

If you’re interested in learning more, these five steps will help pave the way to more productive and efficient workflows, and rapid iterations in the design of complex structures and curved shapes when linking algorithmic scripting with a real parametric BIM tool, such as Tekla Structures.   

1. Be willing to try something new

This may seem obvious, but it would be easy to see the words parametric or algorithmic and think, “this is too complicated” or “I’m not a programmer and I don’t have time to learn something new.” However, the full version of Rhino Grasshopper is free to evaluate for 90 days. What’s the harm in trying it out? If you’re a Tekla Structures user, the direct link to Grasshopper is available to you today in the Tekla Warehouse

2. Take advantage of tutorials and instructional videos

The best way to learn is online through videos made by other structural engineers, tutorials and forums. Some of our favorites: Grasshopper-Tekla Structures demo, Grasshopper basics and these tutorials

Parametric model of bridge deck and street lights in both Rhino Grasshopper and Tekla Structures

3. Experiment with a simple design 

Start by experimenting and with parametric data for a simple design in Grasshopper and creating output objects in a parametric BIM software such as Tekla Structures. You don’t have to jump right in and learn using a complex bridge model. For example, start with building a simple wireframe structure, such as a portal frame, and use the line output as centrelines for your parametric BIM objects.

4. Explore sample Grasshopper scripts

With the installation of the Tekla Structures link to Grasshopper, you’ll have access to some sample scripts (those containing the input parameters and rules) in Tekla Warehouse. You can use these as a guide for the types of scripts you might create when trying out Grasshopper. 

5. Get organised

Once you get started, it’s important to know that algorithmic enabled parametric modelling or parametric design requires organisation. You’ll need to create notes and keep your script of parameters organised and well documented so that you or any other project stakeholder will understand it a week or month later. 

Still looking for more? Watch our free webinar "Easy steps to more efficient bridge design workflow"

Monitor displaying Grasshopper and Tekla Structures parametric modelling with banner prompting to watch webinar