The discipline of architecture has changed drastically in the over three decades that Cliff Moser has been practicing. The California-based architect was trained on pencil-and-paper drafting but adapted to technology throughout his career and now is considered an expert in Building Information Modeling (BIM) software.
Moser, who authored the book Architecture 3.0: The Disruptive Design Practice Handbook, is realistic about the reluctance his peers feel when it comes to changing their processes with technology. He thinks some of it is due to the training his generation of architects received, where more emphasis was placed on the building than its environment, as well as the fact that leaders of the profession tend to be Baby Boomers with fewer tech skills.
Here, Moser gives us insight into the next great tech advances for architecture, how the industry is adapting to smart devices, and why young aspiring architects should go out and build things.
What has been the most significant advance in technology in architecture since you started your career?
When I studied drawings in the past, they were just that — static lines on paper. Now those lines contain information, and what we’re seeing is the ability to use that information, that data, for more than dimensioning the building. While some people think CAD or building information modeling is just another version of hand drafting, actually, hidden deep inside the software is data about what you’re designing.
I liken this to people who used to balance their checkbooks the old-fashioned way using pencil and paper. If they start to use Quicken, they soon realize they’re inputting data. From that data, one can print reports, printing out checks, or reconciliations. So now, all of the information that used to be in handwriting a check is buried into the components of the software. With BIM, you can query things, you can ask a building question — how many doors do you have, or what’s the square footage of this room? You can also print out drawings. BIM is a much more robust tool that I think we’re only just understanding the ramifications for.
What do you think is going to be the most industry-advancing technology for the future of architecture?
There are so many different directions you can go. There’s 3-D printing, there are buildings talking to you as you come inside, helping you find your way to your appointment. On the construction side, there’s assisted construction, augmented reality, robotic layout, and material and supply management. It’s just open as to how far it can go, and it’s something I don’t think we even have had a chance to thoroughly evaluate yet.
There is a lot of talk around smart cities now. How do you think the field of architecture is perceiving the concept of smart cities and how do you think architects are adapting?
I think we’re lagging behind. Architects still focus on the building, and not the existing environment. I was trained as an architect to just sort of fit a building into the property, but really not think about adjacent master planning issues. So if I’m putting in a building that requires so many square feet and I have to put in a parking garage, do I really think about how that new additional traffic affects the neighborhood? We’re just starting to think about how people interact with the environment beyond the building.
Architects have always focused on the aesthetics of the internal, the interiors of the building, and how that affects people, but we haven’t really spent as much time thinking about what the building does to the outside environment. Smart buildings and smarter landscaping are going to be more and more important going forward.
To that point, some say architecture as a discipline has been slow to adapt to technology. Has that been your experience and do you think that’s changing?
Oh yes, it has always been very slow to change. We are a very path-dependent industry, and the fact is most people don’t really hit their stride within the profession until they’re older, most famous architects are in their 60s and 70s and 80s. Because our experience has been gained over 20, 30, 40 years in the industry, we cannot help but use that knowledge and apply it to what we’re doing now.
How has technology changed how you interact with clients? Are clients asking for this?
We have a real frustration in the industry in that our buildings are basically done under capital programs, but once the building is handed over, it’s handed over to operations. So you have capital expenditures, and you have operational expenditures, and typically, those are two silos within an organization. The integration between those two is something I think needs to be better so for the operations people, rather than just inheriting something at the end of the project, they actually are involved from the beginning.
Clients are finally starting to get to the point now that they are receiving smart buildings, and they understand the things that are installed in the building during the construction can really help them operate the building afterward.
Given all of these changes in the industry, what would be your advice for a student or young person in the field of architecture or BuiltTech?
Continue learning and getting your expertise with 3D modeling, because that is only going to get stronger as we bring in augmented reality and virtual reality. Using those tools, rather than building a three-dimensional physical model, we now have an opportunity to walk our clients through buildings.
I would also recommend architects really familiarize themselves with programming. I think at the end of the day, just be aware of it, not necessarily tying yourself down to a particular kind of software programming, but just having an awareness of the programming opportunities that are out there, so you’re able to ramp up once you get to a position where it’s needed. As I said earlier, the old-timer architects, architects my age, while we have the expertise and vision, we really don’t have the time to learn the skill sets that focus on the software side.
For an old timer, I would recommend all architects keep themselves up on their skill set in terms of the tools that are out there.
Then, one of the big things I did was I spent a lot of time physically building things. That was important to me because as architects, we often draw something that can’t be constructed. So architects understanding the actual logistics of tolerances and how you place concrete and hammer a building together is essential for our understanding of design. We want to be able to share our vision, but we also want to make sure it’s constructible.
Cliff Moser will be speaking in Atlanta during this year’s BuiltTech Week, October 22-24, 2018.
Bill Allen is CEO, and President of EvolveLAB, Disrupt Repeat, and On Point Scans. These firms synergistically help architects, engineers, and contractors optimize the built environment. He has over 14 years of experience managing technology for buildings in the AEC industry.
Allen has worked with the latest technology for the AEC industry for over a decade. He gives us an ear into his thoughts on why startups are poised to succeed in this field right now, how AI and machine learning can change the world of construction as we know it, and his advice for a young professional just getting started in the Builttech field.
What do you think is the biggest opportunity open right now in the construction tech industry for startup companies?
The price of hardware and software is coming down substantially, so the entry level for startup companies is finally becoming more and more attainable. You don’t need a lot of capital or an investor, necessarily, to get started.
An excellent example of that is the BLK360 last scanner, for example. These scanners used to be $130 grand. Then they got down to $80 grand, and then the BLK came out for like $17,000. So the fact that small startup companies could actually start purchasing some of this hardware is making it more attainable for startup companies.
How can BIM and related technologies make AEC professionals more productive?
The way BIM can make AEC professionals more productive is by way of automation. With tools like Dynamo, you no longer have to wait for an add-in from Autodesk or from Revit, some third party vendor, to create something for you. We can build these tools ourselves, and with the advent of the Internet, of open source software and online forums, it substantially has accelerated the ability to automate techniques.
Now we not only have a way to build our own tools, but we also have the support and infrastructure to support that ideology of the tool-making concept.
What area of the market has been slower to adopt and why?
One hundred percent, architecture. Construction professionals get it, engineering professionals get it. Architects, by their very nature, are subjective human beings, so, in general, architecture companies make decisions based on their emotion and not as much on logic. The architecture industry, by and large, has been the slowest to adopt these technologies. The other thing, which is not necessarily their fault, is the financial element. They have lower fees than construction professionals; therefore they don’t have the resources or capital to invest in some of these technologies.
You no longer have to wait for some third-party vendor to create something for you. We can build these tools ourselves, and with the advent of the Internet, open source software and online forums, it substantially has accelerated the ability to automate techniques.
What most excites you about where the whole industry is going right now?
It’s unfortunate because it’s become a little too much of a buzzword or hyper information, but the idea of machine learning and AI in the context of building information management and modeling is absolutely insane. When you take the idea of data and building information models, and then you start driving that data, that’s pretty cool. But if you augment that with the concept of artificial intelligence or machine learning, where you can analyze thousands of options, and the computers learn which options are the best, and it goes through a rapid prototyping or algorithmic process of being able to optimize a building, the computer can really dial in the optimization of that building.
There’s going to be some really, really incredible solutions in that field that come out from different startup companies in the very near future.
What would you tell a student or a young person that thinks that they want to get into your field? What skills do they need to know?
I would tell a young professional to learn how to code. I am so jealous of people that can code and be able to have an idea and then essentially speak that concept into existence via Python or C-sharp, that is a superpower. Start with visual programming, some tool like Dynamo or Grasshopper, and then ease into Python and go into full-blown coding.
Let’s say that student is graduating in four years. How do you think the industry will look versus how it is now?
I hope we’ve made more progress than we have in the last four years. Unfortunately, our industry is slow to change, but I do think something that will be happening is the merging of multiple technologies. So if you take a tool like Google Voice, and then you overlay that into a tool like Project Fractal, and then you’re able to say, “Alexa, show me all of the options…” that’s incredible. We’re going to see this merging of technology where voice, AR, VR, BIM, scanning technologies, drone technologies, are fused into a singular solution.
I would also say, invest in yourself and don’t wait for someone to ask you. There are too many people in our industry waiting on management to give them some kind of career path. I would encourage people to be proactive and take more of an entrepreneurial mindset, taking an initiative to further yourself.
Bill Allen will be speaking on why “The Future of BIM Will Not Be BIM” in Atlanta this October during BuiltTech Week.
Luther Lampkin, BuiltTech Labs’ BIM advisor, entered the AEC industry as a drafter in 2006.
Late one night, he was stuck at the office working on a set of plans.
A janitor, who had been cleaning up piles of discarded paper, walked over to Luther’s desk.
“Hey,” he said, “have you heard about this new technology? It’s going to take over the industry pretty soon.” The janitor showed Luther printouts of Revit-generated documents which immediately caught his attention.
A lifelong technology enthusiast, Luther was excited about the potential he saw for innovation in AEC. Hungry to get ahead, Luther studied on his off hours. His competitive nature motivated him to carve a space for himself on the forefront of BIM.
Little did Luther know his big break was right around the corner. Soon, he had the opportunity to implement Revit on a few projects in Dubai. Not long after, he got brought on to build BIM models to scale for a pretty major client: Panama Canal Authority. Luther served as BIM Manager for AS+GG on the Astana World Expo 2017 project, which won the firm a 2016 AIA TAP award.
Suffice it to say, in the past decade, this BIM expert has seen the gamut of where AEC firms are using technology well and where they’re lagging behind. He now owns a consulting firm focused on bringing technology to the world of architecture.
Here’s what he had to say about the future of AEC, including how his first job ever turned out to be the perfect training for the career of his dreams.
What changes have you seen for the positive in AEC?
Recent technology advances mean you can go to Best Buy and get an AR/VR kit. These days, you can experience the built environment before it’s even being built. We may get to the point where documentation may only exist in a model and not on physical pieces of paper. It’s a positive disruption that the industry needs to push forward.
What changes have you seen for the negative?
What I see more than anything else is a big divide between the baby boomers and the millennials. Millennials love technology; we grew up in it. The baby boomers are the ones who cut the checks. Millennials have the technology and programming savvy to drive the industry forward. If you’re an architecture major, you’re almost required to have a minor in computer science. The industry has slowed the progress it could have made because we’re used to doing things the way we’ve always done it.
Any job I get into, no matter what it is, no one would work harder than me. If I saw them come into work at 7 am, I would come into work at 6 am.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?
Be prepared to not make a lot of money. When I was a drafter, I was making the same I could have working at Target. Be prepared for long hours and not a lot of compensation. It sounds crazy but that’s the name of the game until you can set yourself apart. Which you can do through technology; hard work and effort; networking with the right people. Definitely find a mentor. That person can lead you and help you navigate you from where you are now to where you go moving forward. You’ve got to love it. You’ll blossom.
What was your first job ever?
I was a dishwasher at a really, really nice boutique restaurant. I remember that’s what set me apart at establishing a work effort. My mom was like, “You wanna be a dishwasher?!” I was 15-16 years old and I just wanted a job.
My friend worked there and we would see who could keep the dishwasher cleaner — that’s my sports background, being competitive. They made 35 different cheesecakes so it was pretty cool and it was decent money. It got me to understand that you know what — any job I get into, no matter what it is, no one would work harder than me. And I took that with me into school, industry. If I saw them come into work at 7 am, I would come into work at 6 am.
If you could wave a magic wand and create a new technology, what would it be?
A predictive analytics tool that could seamlessly blend all the different tech tools that we use in a more cohesive fashion to get a more integrated, predictable outcome. Right now in our industry, most of all the tools we use aren’t universal-based. Not every software plays well with another. I would create a web-based, interoperable tool that isn’t something only a very intellectual person could use. If my mom can use an iPhone… that’s what I want to create in our field, with the same mantra: simplistic enough that anyone could use it.
Recently, Matt Gray, BuiltWorlds founder and co-chairman of Graycor, a 90-year-old, Chicago-area general contractor, interviewed The Combine Co-founder and Partner, K.P. Reddy. We captured the interview on video, which is important, because this interview is one of the very few times you’ll ever see K.P. Reddy in a collared shirt and a coat. Here’s the video.
Notable Quotes from K.P.
The capital requirements to start an architectural firm are nothing. All you need is a customer.
The Combine works with large companies to spin out new tech companies. Especially in service companies, they are so close to the customer’s problem. They understand the problem. They’ve studied the problem. Then they start trying to solve that problem, by launching a new service unit to focus on that problem. Or, these days, everyone wants to build a new piece of hardware or software.
There is no line item for R&D
But in these companies it’s about billable hours, project revenue, project margin. There is no line item for R&D. So we’re able to go into these companies and mine these really cool innovative ideas and spin them out as tech startups.
Higher ROI outside of their core business
The large companies also retain ownership in the startup. Startup valuations are very different than services firm valuations, and particularly engineering and architectural firms. So we’re able to in many ways generate higher ROI outside of their core business than within their core business.
When you hear the term “civil engineering”, your eyes and ears usually don’t perk up in anticipation like they do when you hear “new iPhone” or “driverless cars” or “Artificial Intelligence.” Instead, you think bridges, roads, dams, airports, traffic patterns…buildings. Civil engineers are boring, right? [Read more..]
For Brian Skripac, the key to implementing new technology is to try not to get bogged down in the technology.
But for him, tech is less about the “what,” and more about the, “how.”
He asks, “How do we plan our work and work the plan?”
In other words, it doesn’t matter so much what a tool can do unless you know how to use it. And knowing how to use it requires a thoughtful approach to teams and processes. It’s about being focused on operational excellence.
Brian Skripac is currently a Vice President and the Director of Virtual Design and Construction at CannonDesign, where he continually drives innovation by merging technology and practice. He has 21 years of industry experience, with the last 11 focusing on the integration of BIM to transform the design and project delivery process.
Brian Skripachas also successfully developed and managed BIM-enabled delivery systems for large efforts in Design-Led Construction. In addition, he focuses on the use of BIM to capture and structure relevant facility data, implementing the value BIM brings to facility owners from an interoperable lifecycle management strategy. A thought-leader in this field, he is an advisory group member and past-chair of the AIA National Technology in Architectural Practice Knowledge Community and serves on the BIMForum committee responsible for authoring the LOD Specification.
How long have you been part of this industry?
Brian Skripac: I’ve been part of AEC industry since 1996, and then I really started with a BIM focus back in 2005. I was working as a post-graduate architect looking to get into a project architect role, and I was teaching a college-level 3D modeling class in the evening and on the weekends. Someone mentioned an opportunity to work with an Autodesk reseller consulting firm, and it was there that I came across Revit for the first time. I thought to myself, “This is a game changer.” In that moment I saw that it wasn’t just about using a new software. It’s about driving a whole new process about how we practice architecture.
What changes have you seen for the positive in the AEC space since then?
Brian Skripac: A better focus on collaboration and integration. The more we work with these new technologies, the more we start to embrace processes where we work more collaboratively. We’re doing a better job of breaking down the silos of architect and builder. We’re able to take advantage of information and knowledge on the construction side to come back to the design side and raise the bar on how we deliver projects.
This BIM wave we’re on is certainly something that’s facilitated that. More owners have adopted this model, which gives you better deliverables, reduced cost, improved schedule. It used to be you could get two out of three: cost, time, and quality. Now we do a better job of planning out our work and sharing knowledge and information.
A tool like BIM can be a catalyst but it’s not the easy button. It gives you the ability to know and plan for what you want to capture, but you need great teams and processes to take advantage of it.
What changes have you seen for the negative?
Brian Skripac: With BIM, the constraints of sharing information is a concern. But that’s also an opportunity. It’s not about risk avoidance, but risk management. In the industry, at a project manager level, there’s still trepidation to share what we’re doing. That’s the difference between the people who are excelling and the people you aren’t: the ones who are sharing, collaborating, are excelling. At CannonDesign, we’re embracing this Virtual Design and Construction idea, and we have a design-led construction team. Part of our delivery model is the larger idea of being a single source environment. When we can do it, we’re much more collaborative and the sharing of information goes further to building repeatable, collaborative engagements.
What draws you to the technology side of things?
Brian Skripac: For me, when I first came out of school, I had to do the same mundane things over and over; repeat the same change ten times across a set of drawings. Initially, I was attracted to the technology, but when I got to really learn the tool, I quickly saw beyond the visualization aspects and realized it’s about a larger project performance idea. As an architect, I’ve always been intrigued by the construction side, and having project opportunities to work with owners on how to set delivery standards as it relates to BIM has been a full circle endeavor.
Why do you think this industry lags behind in tech?
Brian Skripac: I’ve seen this problem from multiple sides. Sometimes in architecture, it lags because a majority of architecture firms are ten people or less. There’s a financial constraint of switching over systems, and a human capital constraint of who’s going to lead that. With large firms, it’s like turning a cruise ship, so pushing standards and process changes have its own unique time constraints to get a full adoption.
Imagine you’re talking to a high school senior. What would you tell her to major in, and why?
Brian Skripac: Whatever they’re interested in. Find something that you like doing and go all in. My kids explore different things and I want them to be savvy and creative at the same time. A lot of their activities in school are very tech-focused and I just want them to keep learning. My son had a class this year where they were using modeling systems and 3D printers and my daughter just attended a summer camp called Camp Invention, which had a STEM focus. There are so many opportunities to innovate.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?
Brian Skripac: Don’t be bogged down by, “that’s how we’ve always done it.” Find new ways. That’s the biggest killer: “that’s not how we do it”, or “we’ve always done it this way.” No. We’ve got to evolve.
What’s the worst advice you’ve ever gotten?
Brian Skripac: At a previous firm, we were doing testing and vetting new sustainability tools. We were looking at analysis software, trying to figure out how to integrate it into our design process. My CEO at that time was in our presentation. He stood up and told us, “You guys are just wasting your bonus checks spending your time on this. We’re not going to waste money on this and you’re just wasting your time.” Needless to say, I started working on my resume and left that firm shortly after that.
What was your first job ever?
Brian Skripac: I cut grass when I was 10 or 12, around the neighborhood and the front yard of my dad’s office on weekends.
What is your must-have smartphone app?
Brian Skripac: Cozi. That is our family calendar app. Everything’s color-coded, so you know who’s going where at what time: who’s traveling for work, who’s got baseball after school. It’s a sanity check.
What are your 3 favorite technology tools you use throughout your day?
Brian Skripac: I love Twitter for staying up to date and sharing and gathering information. Trello is a great one, using cards to manage to-do lists, get feedback on ideas, and communicate with our team. We also use join.me for communications. I spend a lot time on the phone with our offices around the globe, so being able to connect with people that way is pretty important.
Windows/MAC/Linux and why?
Brian Skripac: For whatever reason, I’ve never been in a working environment besides Windows.
iOS or Android, and why?
Brian Skripac: I love my iPhone!
The construction industry has a technology problem..
A 2016 survey by strategic advisory firm, KPMG, shows that the industry is ambivalent about technology uptake. While 61% of construction companies are using Building Information Modeling (BIM), the survey also found that firms are not investing in single, fully integrated project management information systems. Instead they are using multiple software platforms that are manually monitored, an inefficient use of software at best. This can lead to a perception that they are not getting full value from BIM because information is lost as it moves from design processes and into construction.
The article Why your construction firm is really in the business of construction technology appeared first on Built Worlds
Heavy equipment manufacturing giant Komatsu and positioning software maker Trimble are teaming up to enable the sharing of 3-D construction job site data.
The Post Komastu, Trimble partner for 3-D construction data sharing appeared first on Construction Dive.
While keynotes from industry stalwarts like Paul Doherty and Aaron T. Becker and plenary presentations by Greg Bentleyand Burkhard Boeckem were considered by many to be the highlights of the SPAR 3D Expo and Conference, the biggest news from the show had actually come a few weeks earlier. In March, SPAR 3D and AEC Science & Technology (AEC-ST) announced that they would co-locate in June of 2018 in Anaheim, California.