Innovators Explore the Transformation of Design and Construction at Autodesk University Innovation Forum

Categories: Architecture Construction

Attendees, both in-person at Autodesk University in Las Vegas and attending virtually via the live webcast, heard how the rise of reality capture, cloud computing, gamification, social and mobile platforms as well as building information modeling (BIM) are dramatically extending the ability to innovate in the build environment. As the pace of change increases, many organizations are discovering that traditional ways of working are no longer enough.   In the first of two innovation forums at AU 2013, Autodesk invited guest speakers to talk about how more collaborative, integrated, and holistic approaches can reveal unexpected ways to transform traditional processes and create amazing outcomes.


Bruce Bell, managing director for FACIT Homes, introduced the potential construction site of the future, where the path between design intent and the physical artifact is streamlined.  This UK-based company designs and builds homes by extending BIM to on-site component fabrication, enabling them to  deliver a physical outcome (a home) rather than a digital artifact (a drawing or model of the home).  Its patented D-Process exports BIM models to an on-site computer controlled cutter that helps the company dramatically improve quality control, predictability, cost effectiveness, speed and produce buildings with a lower carbon footprint.


The Denver International Airport, the 10th busiest in the world, is in the midst of a massive new construction project that has become a world-class example of BIM transparency and effectiveness.   The DIA Hotel and Transit Center Program, managed by HNTB and Parsons, designed by Gensler and under construction by MHS (Mortenson, Hunt, Saunders) A Tri-Venture with enabling work provided by Kiewit.  The project will add a 519-room hotel and transit center to serve all RTD buses and the future RTD East Rail Line, which will connect DIA to downtown Denver. Eddy Krygiel, Architect at HNTB, explained how the design, engineering and construction companies collaboratively developed a virtual model of the entire project that can be used as a single decision making platform. This move from disconnected stakeholders to interconnected method of collaboration helps AEC firms deliver more value across the lifecycle of increasingly complex projects.  The model not only creates a centralized system for managing the Hotel and Transit Center through its operational life, but also provides the Airport with a framework to deploy facility operations and maintenance.


Pete Kelsey of Autodesk next introduced a new project on which Autodesk and the National Park Service are collaborating at the USS Arizona site at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.  In partnership with HDR, Sam Hirota, Inc and Oceanic Imaging Consultants, the team combined terrestrial laser scanning, SONAR, photogrammetry and underwater laser scanning to create a highly detailed and accurate model with Autodesk ReCap. Results of this work will be available next year.


Stone Librande, Creative Director at EA/Maxis, spoke about SimCity, the videogame series that has turned many into armchair urban planners.  The latest version of this game contains a powerful rules-based engine that let’s citizens (players) simulate the evolution of a city with multiple scenarios, and has many similarities with the tools used in sophisticated professional infrastructure design applications.


The final speaker was Neil Hrushowy, PhD, MS, acting manager of the City Design Group (CDG)_ in the San Francisco Planning Department.  You might say, the CDG is playing SimCity for real, having amassed and applied 3D digital models to visualize, simulate and analyze a wide range of planning issues and engage the public with a sort of 3D sandbox to describe various solutions and gather input..  Hrushowy explained how his group brings together technologies from 2D, 3D, GIS, Reality Capture and others into a single decision-making environment.


“There is a movement in San Francisco to shift planning and design decisions closer to the residents.  Technology and innovation have been playing a remarkable role in making this happen,” said Hrushowy.

Closing the forum, Autodesk fellow Tom Wujec noted we are entering the age of optimization, as represented by the innovators presenting today. Transformative technologies made possible by the cloud will drive the industry to innovate and embrace change; to shift from individual to team, from working in isolation to working in context of and engaging with the world around us.