Keshav Ramaswami has had multiple interests since childhood, and through design he is figuring out ways to explore them all.
The Kansas native began playing guitar when he was five. As he grew up, he became fascinated by biomolecular research and in particular, HSP-90, a simplex virus. During freshman year of high school, he was selected as one of the top 40 young scientists in the nation to go to Washington, D.C., as part of a competition sponsored by the Discovery Channel.
"I've always tried to keep my feet in a series of disciplines since I was a kid--I've always been interested in multiple things simultaneously in pursuit of a synthesis of all of them,” he said.
This personality trait was unmistakable in the winning project he submitted for the 2015 Bill Moggridge Award. At that time, he was a fourth-year architecture student at Pratt Institute, and his project explored algorithmic systems based on slime mold, as well as different kinds of natural growth patterns. He utilized that as a means of “structural optimization,” looking at more complex, ornamental, and even synthetically bio-mimetic structural organization in the creation of a building.
The other piece of his project included the role of transit and the energetic processes it can bring to a building, as well as audiovisual components through theater, art, and music.
“The award meant a lot to me because I utilized my interests in biology and research, as well as music … to kind of inflect it in different ways,” said Ramaswami, who completed the project under the direction of his academic advisor, Dagmar Richter.
“She really pushed me to figure out new ways to push myself in terms of the algorithmic and computational strategies I was employing for some of the architectural proposals,” he said.
The project, as well as most things Ramaswami is interested in, falls under the category of "computational design." That basically means using algorithmic, mathematical, or automated systems to compute complex geometry, shapes, and forms to achieve more precise and/or meaningful design expressions, he said.
Ramaswami graduated with a bachelor’s degree in architecture in 2016 after powering through on his thesis most of the academic year. The scholarship money he earned as part of the Bill Moggridge Award was helpful in funding his thesis research.
“The award was important in catalyzing how I saw my last year,” he said.
Regardless, he said he continues to find inspiration simply by looking around and trying to learn as much as possible. As a designer, his work focuses on incorporating sound, notation, language, and music into the syntax of architectural expression.
“I think too often we hear the cliché, ‘Architecture is frozen music,’” he said. “I think that needs to be taken head on and we need to start designing music the same way.”
Keshav is currently working at Morphosis Architects in Culver City, California.
To learn more about Keshav and his work or to contact him directly, please visit his website.