Archi-Tech

2018’s TECH+ Expo explores VR, integrated solutions, and the future of BIM

Architecture East Professional Practice Technology
Phil Bernstein presenting his industry keynote,
Phil Bernstein presenting his industry keynote, "Practice in the Era of Computation." (Jonathan Hilburg/AN)

The second annual TECH+ Expo, presented by The Architect’s Newspaper, has returned to Manhattan with a bevy of vendors, lectures, and talks about where architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) are headed.

After a round of breakfast and networking on the expo floor, president and founder of programming partner Microsol Resources Emilio Krausz and AN’s publisher Diana Darling took to the TechPerspectives main stage to welcome attendees and introduce the two keynote speakers. Dennis Shelden, director of the Digital Building Laboratory (DBL) at the Georgia Institute of Technology, took the opportunity to discuss the challenges (and opportunities) that technology brings to the interoperability between AEC industries. Virtual reality, and the integration of models with the ability to walk through and coordinate with the trades, could ultimately save money and time for everyone. And looking ahead even further in the future? Augmented reality, where VR is projected into the real world, could help visualize projects in real time and could ultimately lead to a “Minority Report”-style future.

Dennis Shelden giving his keynote address, “The Digital Twin and the Future of AEC Collaboration”. (Jonathan Hilburg/AN)

Architect, technologist, and newly appointed associate dean of the Yale School of Architecture Phil Bernstein followed up with an industry keynote on computational design and integration. The field has already moved from hand drafting to CAD, and then into BIM, so what comes next? Bernstein presented six points that he felt were the next logical stepping stones, from using big data, to improving computational design, to integrating machine learning into the design process. The availability of data and cloud computing power could eventually help architects design more optimized buildings and reduce the waste that comes when expectations don’t line up with how a building actually performs in the real world.

On the expo floor, companies were lining up to present the latest advances in virtual reality, 3-D printing, and rendering technology (and visitors all had the chance to win their own HTC Vive by throwing down their business cards). Implementation was a major theme this year, whether it was through IrisVR’s use of virtual reality to bring architects, engineers, and construction workers together for meetings, or Morpholio’s easy-to-use sketching tools. As Bernstein contends, architects will make fewer mistakes and save more money as the gap between ideas and implementation closes.

Nidhi Sekhar of LERA
Consulting Structural Engineers presenting at the expo’s lighting talk series. (Jonathan Hilburg)

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