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Hello, everyone. Time for our weekly roundup of articles at the intersection of building information modeling (BIM); artificial intelligence (AI); and the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) space. Here goes:

As BIM processes continue to develop and gain prominence in practices across the globe, experts are now beginning to question how BIM is taught and learned. An article appearing last week on Engineering.com points out the discrepancies in how BIM is used in different countries, regions, and industries. Deke Smith of the Academic Interoperability Coalition (AIC) points out, "A lot of BIM in the U.S. is primarily focused on visualization and clash detection, whereas in other countries, most notably the UK, they are really looking at the issue in a much broader scale, with many more functions that BIM can perform." Naturally, these differences in approach lead to a difference in teaching that Smith and others hope to address. The AIC is hoping to identify gaps and inefficiencies in current educational practices in order to develop a more comprehensive BIM education strategy.

The AIC broke down the facets of a BIM career to define how to construct a BIM education. The process consisted of 96 individual job categories in total. (Source: Engineering.com)

Additionally, Engineering.com looked at how BIM practices could benefit from the latest innovations in virtual reality (VR). According to the article, architecture firm NBBJ and VR developer Visual Vocal have recently teamed up to develop a VR program that would allow designers and architects to increase collaboration and streamline decision making in the design process. "The reason to use VR for AEC is twofold: it holds the potential both to create a much more intuitive and easily understood visualization of a project and, according to NBBJ, help[s] improve communication surrounding a project." As well as improving the creative process, clients could be brought into the virtual environment for a clearer understanding of what their final product would entail.

With the help of virtual reality, users will be able to view models that are currently only in the planning stages. (Source: Engineering.com)

If you are already investigating the benefits of VR technology, ViaTechnik has compiled this handy list of VR hardware and software, both currently available and soon to be released, with summaries of how they benefit the AEC space. "Virtual Reality technology has advanced rapidly in the past few years and in no other industry is this more relevant than in the AEC market." Indeed, virtual and augmented reality are likely to prove invaluable in an industry that is so reliant on collaboration, often encompassing multiple global markets.

These touchable holograms might get our vote for coolest item on the ViaTechnik VR list. (Source: ViaTechnik)

Nathan Miller of Proving Ground captured our attention when he recently sharedhis thoughts with Building Design + Construction on points to consider in computational design (algorithms). He emphasized that while algorithmic design can solve a plethora of problems, its usefulness can be subverted when not properly evaluated and applied: "...it is important to prioritize tactics that can help a business work towards scalable solutions that yield productivity and value." In other words, don't rush out and buy tools for the sake of the tools. Sage advice in a world where neat tools seem to multiply exponentially and often resemble toys as much as solutions.

It's difficult to refrain from purchasing tools when they look as fun as this! (Source: Building, Design & Construction)

If you're seeking a solution for an overworked (human) assistant, help may be on the way. A professor at Georgia Tech (fittingly, in a class studying AI), recently introduced an extra teaching assistant (TA) in his class: Jill Watson. Unbeknownst to the students, Jill was actually a product of AI, and she did an impressive job handling the students' queries: "By the end of the semester, 'Jill' was reportedly answering questions with a 97 percent success rate, having learned to parse the context of queries and reply to them accurately." Arguably a better rate than many human TAs. Jill will continue working with the class, but students will henceforth know her real identity.

How many of you want to go back to school if only for the prospect of AI TAs?(Source: Slate)

We've all heard the old adage about "those who live in glass houses," but this week we're thinking a glass house could be pretty fabulous. Check out this video detailing the design and building of a glass-brick building façade in Amsterdam. Simply stunning. Have a great week!

 This "Crystal House" is currently inhabited by a Chanel store (no surprise there!). The gorgeous "bricks" are held together with glue. (Source: Curbed)

Tags: Artificial Intelligence Architecture and Planning Virtual Reality

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