Color Depth


  • Catie Newell University of Michigan
  • Ryan Craney University of Michigan



Color Depth is a material-based research project investigating the optical and structural properties of thick glass. The research is driven by an interest in optical gradients of transparency and color, which are designed through a manipulation of geometric form and composition. These qualities can be attributed to the interrelated optical effects created through reflection, refraction, and volume color, in direct correlation to the geometry of individual glass pieces and overall glass assemblies. An example of this can be seen in viewing a monolithic volume of glass that would appear to change color by varying the depths of its form. This concept was originally discussed in Josef Albers’ Interaction of Colour, and applied more specifically to glass in recent essays by Heike Brachlow.  Color Depth utilizes this phenomenon of perceived color variation to construct and analyze architectural glass forms in both physical prototypes and design speculation. To evaluate architectural design opportunities, a multi-objective optimization workflow simulates and evaluates varying glass colors, forms, and compositions to achieve a desired visual effect. Additionally, the digital optimization process reveals patterns and visual effects that further the understanding of optical gradients when applied in an architectural context with various seasonal and diurnal environments. Keying into the geometry of glass– to deploy changes in color, darkness, or translucency—Color Depth ties together the physical attributes of a material system with its surrounding light.





Thermal, Acoustic, and Lighting Aspects