You may have heard about the Capitol ducklings story and how a little ramp helped make their lives better. For background: every spring in DC’s Union Square, mallard ducks and their ducklings flock to the Capitol Reflecting Pool.

While the design of the Capitol Reflecting Pool is a classic DC image – it does not factor in duckling mobility. The popular attraction has broad, gently sloped limestone surrounding the pool. This feature of the pool can make it difficult for the ducklings to climb in and out of the pool.

Recently the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) collaborated with City Wildlife, a not-for-profit organization that works to rescue and rehabilitate sick, orphaned and injured wild animals in Washington, D.C., to help ease that part of duckling life.

Their efforts resulted in a ramp/walkway for the ducklings – most likely created as a GDL. 

What does this have to do with GDL? Good question. The answer lies in knowing what a GDL or geometric description language is and what it does. GDL, a functional programming language based on BASIC, came into existence to encourage architects to use it to build their own geometric objects in ARCHICAD, extending the possibilities of design and presentation.

It can respond to the needs of a design – but hinges on the user’s background in programming and knowledge of descriptive geometry. Basic GDL is easy to understand: an architect with the affinity for programming is able to start creating simple objects with only a handful of commands. The more familiar you become with the language, the more complex objects you can add to your growing collection.

These objects can serve multiple purposes – architects occasionally need to solve really unique problems that are not always “person centered” – they can be environmental or benefit wildlife in the area of a proposed building.  


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