The Week in Summary: ClashMEP, General Contractors & the Golden Gate Bridge

*Ondina Frate of @GenerativDesign

It's the last Friday before Christmas... Is your shopping done? If it's likely you'll face at least one check-out line today, why not squeeze in some reading? Here's a quick look at some of our favorite pieces from around the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) world from this past week.

Obviously, building information modeling (BIM) is a hot topic around our office. It's our goal to make its adoption easier and make workflows seamless. We're happy to announce that we've come one step closer to that goal with the introduction of ClashMEP! ClashMEP is a Revit add-in that brings dynamic, real-time clash detection to the Revit platform. It allows you to see clashes as you model (yes, for real!); compute clashes along a machine, engineering, and plumbing (MEP) route; and find all clashes through a bounding selection. Clash detection is done against other Revit objects, linked models, IFCs, and point clouds. It even works in C4R environments. For more information, check out our website or contact us at info@buildingsp.com.

Our friends across the pond have been on course for BIM adoption in government and infrastructure for some time now. Will the US take a cue from the UK and do the same? Some think it's likely that we are headed in that direction. Yet as BIM practices remain largely misunderstood, there are still a fair amount of roadblocks to overcome. In a survey of BIM use by government contractors, "a quarter said they were looking into adopting BIM, more than half said they had no plans to take it up. Yet, when questioned about the importance of the individual aspects of BIM... nearly 75% of respondents rated each either important or very important." Clearly, a vast rift exists between the perceptions and realities of BIM implementation, but the simple fact that so many at least understand the importance of its singular benefits signals a step in the right direction. (BIM terminology could be part of the problem; the folks at Cad Digest devised this handy list for quick reference.)

BIM works on small and extra-large scale. (Source: DLT)

As technology continues to take over more and more aspects of our daily lives, the word "disruption" is tossed around like a game of hot potato. Still, there are many in the AEC sector that continue to look upon technological progress with more than a little suspicion. Nathan Wood, founder and CEO at SpectrumAEC, recently published a piece asking whether disruption was bound to change the role of the general contractor. While architectural and design firms are seeing an uptick in their acceptance of digital methods, the contractor is less likely to see the long-term value in technology that poses a costly investment. In order for this to change, Wood posits, "General Contractors need a shared risk and reward incentive like Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) to enable a new paradigm of trust and collaboration that will drive disruptive innovation." Under the current model, contractors see themselves in a position of holding all the risk, providing little reason for them to embrace collaborative technologies that would ultimately improve efficiency. In a truly collaborative environment, however, one in which all parties have a vested interest in transparency, the end result would justify the risky investment.

Will general contractors get a new job description in 2017? (Source: Modular Homeowners)

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are more favorite topics of ours, and we love to monitor the progression of this technology and its potential for AEC applications. Particularly with the advent of tools like the Daqri Smart Helmet and the Microsoft HoloLens, the uses for AR and VR in design and construction seem almost limitless. Still, there are some hurdles yet to be conquered, relating more to the software than the hardware. As it stands, most software cannot seamlessly support a CAD model: "Speaking to the difficulty of bringing CAD into AR or VR, [Kean] Walmsley explains that existing software enables one-off experiences, but not the kind of frictionless workflow that we need to make AR or VR a part of our daily workflows." Fortunately, with companies like AutodeskTrimble, and FARO working on the issue, it's likely we won't have to wait long for AR and VR to be fully integrated into our working environment.

Those of us who live in the Bay Area have the privilege of seeing the iconic Golden Gate Bridge on a nearly daily basis (when that pesky fog cooperates). We take for granted just how marvelous a feat of engineering this bridge is, particularly considering the era in which it was constructed. Check out this video by The B1M for a little background on what we think is one of the most beautiful bridges ever built. Have a great weekend and happy holidays!

The Golden Gate Bridge could have looked very, very different. (Source: The B1M)

 

*Cover image: "Generative Design" is a processing bot that takes the latest abstract pictures from Flickr using an API and re-designs them by shifting groups of pixels randomly to the left and right. You can contact Ondina Frate of @GenerativDesign at oef208@nyu.edu.

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 Software Development

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