The Week in Summary: Build as You Go With VR, Looking Ahead to 2017 & a Diversity Check In

It's Friday again! As those of us in the Bay Area try not to float away in the rain, let's take a look at what's been going on in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) world over the last week.

We've often talked about the potential for virtual reality in the AEC space, and as the tools for virtual reality (VR) continue to improve at an ever-increasing pace, that potential is becoming a reality. The Botswana Innovation Hub for technology research and development doesn't yet exist, but with an HTC Vive headset you can take a walk through it now – no trip to Africa required. Forward-thinking architects are changing the way buildings are designed: "Virtual reality can alter the whole architectural process, from design to construction, even to maintenance after a building is completed. Architects don't have to use software to translate their drawings into renderings; they can design in three dimensions in the first place." Gone are the days of drafting tables and endless reams of paper. The next generation of designers will build their spaces as they walk through them.

The Botswana Innovation Hub is a 270,000 square-foot LEED-certified complex, all viewable through the HTC Vive VR headset. (Source: Smithsonian)

Fortunately, VR technologies work well in a building information modeling (BIM) workflow. Microdesk recently published their predictions for the top trends in AEC in 2017. As BIM practices become more commonplace, the tools and technologies used in its implementation become increasingly important. Specifically, they point to VR, generative design, and the Internet of Things as the tech that will see significant evolution in the coming year. Additionally, they believe investment in infrastructure and improved hiring and training programs will move the industry forward.

You too might be walking into the proverbial VR rainbow in 2017. (Source:Forbes)

But as BIM technology moves forward, the vast amount of options – from hardware to software – can become overwhelming. How does a company choose the best tools and systems for their specific needs? Engineering.com took a look at Entuitive, an engineering firm out of Canada, and discovered employees were creating custom workflows designed around their specific way of working. They gathered info from their client, team, and contractors to determine what information would be critical at each stage of the design and building process, and then tweaked their various software platforms to ensure proper dissemination of pertinent information: "By introducing these links and various other ideas for improving workflows that were crowd-sourced from employees, the team at Entuitive built efficiency – which could then be turned into time spent on other efforts." While the initial time investment may seem daunting, it will ultimately pay off in time saved down the road.

Streamlining the workflow is no easy process, but it pays off in spades down the line. (Source: Engineering.com)

As technology moves the industry forward, one aspect of the AEC space remains disgracefully in the past. According to Redshift, Autodesk's industry blog, engineers are still mostly white, male, and middle aged. The piece underscores the need for diversity to keep up with a changing global market. As the author points out, "Global teams are already a necessary component of large-scale infrastructure projects, and it's an added benefit for these teams to include engineers from different ethnicities and countries of origin. According to a 2015 report by McKinsey, companies with ethnically diverse workforces are 35 percent more likely to financially outperform those with a lack of diversity." Diversity is not only important for employee morale, it turns out it's best for the company's bottom line. Through educational outreach and a rework of the standard ways of working, the engineering community might be able to attract and nurture a broader range of engineers.

We're getting a little tired of only seeing these guys. Let's get some new faces in here! (Source: Redshift)

Have some extra coins lying around? And a whole lotta patience...? Check out these precisely engineered structures built with coins and random household objects. This could be a good way to practice your BIM skills while you're at it. Have a great weekend!

This takes skill! And maybe some superglue... (Source: Colossal)

 

As you may have noticed, we've been doing a lot of writing about the impact of computational BIM, generative design, and the future of how we work. One thing we haven't done is turn some of this thinking into more rigorous analysis. But now we're ready to do that! 

If you work for a general contractor, subcontractor, or design firm and want to collaborate on whitepapers that quantify how computational methods of working will change our industry, reach out to us and let's talk about what we can do. We're open to collaborations worldwide and have lots of ways of measuring performance indicators to gain insight into change in our industry. Contact Brett Young at brett@buildingsp.com.

Tags: BIM Virtual Reality Equality & Diversity

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