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Cooper Alumni Launch ‘Design with FRANK’

POSTED ON: August 26, 2021

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2018 Cooper Union architecture graduates Gabriel Munnich and Yaoyi Fan recently founded Design with FRANK, a start-up based on the premise that good design shouldn’t be a luxury. To that end, their company has developed a digital tool that embeds architectural intelligence in a user-friendly way, allowing anyone to make well-designed homes that fit their exact needs. Munnich and Fan believe that, as architects, it is their responsibility to create the next generation of design tools that serve everyone’s needs while creating a better-built environment for all. 

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Recently featured in designboom, Design with FRANK streamlines the traditional design process into a simple, intuitive, game-like experience that allows users to make a house by manipulating and connecting 3D blocks. Once satisfied with their design, users can interchange roof types and exterior materials to suit different climates. The software also provides a sophisticated map system via satellite imagery and vector world data that visualize the user's dream house in their chosen physical site. 

Homes designed with FRANK are created with sustainability at their core, as the software factors in solar gain and continuous insulation to minimize heat loss. The house blocks are compact to maximize their efficiency, and building with FRANK can reduce environmental impacts by creating homes that use less energy and fewer natural resources. A built-in cost estimator also allows users to see how their design and material choices impact their overall build budget. 

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Once their design is complete, users can purchase and study a 3D printed model of the house they have generated. Design with FRANK offers two drawing packages as well—an initial set of architectural drawings and a complete construction set. 

“While at Cooper, we realized that architecture stems from the tools that create it,” said Yaoyi Fan and Gabriel Munnich. “So we spent a large portion of our time creating design tools, such as CNC and 3D printers and software scripts. Through Design with FRANK we think we can democratize design by providing access to better tools for both designers and aspiring homeowners.”

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  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.