Posts tagged with "BIM":

Startups are riding the tech wave to build the future of the AEC industry

There’s a perfect storm brewing in the AEC industry with respect to technology, and startup tech companies are stoked because the waves are finally rolling in. A number of factors are contributing to the sudden surge. An increasingly urban population along with a changing climate is placing unprecedented pressure on the built environment, according to Jesse Devitte, co-founder of Borealis Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm geared toward the AEC industry. Fortunately, mobile devices, cloud computing, and endless sensors capturing data have reached near-ubiquitous status just as a slew of game-changing technologies such as BIM, AR/VR, and Blockchain are arriving, he notes. “It really does feel like the industry is at a unique moment in time,” Devitte said. “I can tell you one thing for certain: in my three decades of involvement in AEC software I have never seen so much activity. In fact, I wake up to a new startup in my email every single morning, seven days a week.” As a veteran who was part of Autodesk’s former Softdesk team and who organized the company’s AEC business unit, Devitte is well versed in venture capital. Upon leaving Autodesk, he co-founded Borealis Ventures to support the next generation of software entrepreneurs. “Today, we are focused on overcoming the traditional fragmented and resulting industry inefficiency by backing startups focused on driving data across the entire building lifecycle,” he explained. The Borealis team identifies and works with teams and technologies materially improving how the built environment is designed, constructed, operated, and experienced—and the potential for a startup to achieve industry disruption has never been better, he says. “That doesn’t mean it is easy,” Devitte pointed out. “You are still selling to project-based businesses, which, on the design side, have more work than ever but are facing narrower margins,” he said. On the construction side, he paints a rather harrowing picture. Likening it to upgrading a plane mid-flight at low altitudes, Devitte says construction professionals are “attempting to safely deliver the highest quality product on time and budget for the real estate owners, who have their own challenges including the phenomena of ‘space as a service,’ which is the opposite of the long-term investment/cash flow ROI model that built the asset class.”

Welcome to the Start Tank

But shifts of this magnitude are precisely what’s needed to create waves for real market transformation. “These big waves may indeed be the proof that digital transformation of this industry has reached an inflection point—and that is the ideal time to invest for maximum return,” Devitte observed. To those willing to test the tech-infested waters, they’ll have the opportunity to dive in during Start Tank, shark tank-like feature for exhibiting start-ups to pitch their winning ideas to potential investors and customers at this year’s TECH+ expo in New York City on May 22nd. Led by Devitte and featuring special guest judges Dareen Salama (Lehrer) Justin Hendrix (NYC Media Lab), and Greg Schleusner (HOK), Start Tank will enable startups to get their stories out to the market. “For potential customers it is a unique opportunity to learn about solutions they can deploy to advance their businesses,” Devitte said. “To make sure we deliver on both of those fronts, the judges are industry professionals who are potential customers for the startups. And as we say in the venture business, we will see if the ‘dogs eat the food,’ all while having fun in a positive environment.”

Meet the Georgia Tech laboratory advancing digitally integrated design

Meet the incubators and accelerators producing the new guard of design and architecture start-ups. This is part of a series profiling incubators and accelerators from our April 2018 Technology issue.  Founded by Professor Chuck Eastman, a renowned trailblazer in building computer sciences and one of the creators of BIM, Georgia Institute of Technology's Digital Building Laboratory (DBL) in Atlanta quickly earned a sterling reputation after its founding in 2009. Now led by Associate Professor Dennis Shelden, an architect and digital technology expert who previously was the director of research and development and computing for Frank Gehry, the lab aims to harness its educational position as an indispensable source for knowledge capital. “We have a strong connection to the professional practice,” said Shelden. “Our ability to connect between technology and projects as an academic institution is one of our most valuable assets. We are very much focused on solving concrete problems through our research and our role as an academic and open research institution.” The DBL particularly focuses on “helping students disrupt the industry in order to collectively advance it.” This includes pushing open-source initiatives and embarking on ventures that might be too risky for a company to take on, with the awareness that free innovation now could yield big returns later. In addition to supporting Georgia Tech’s School of Architecture, the DBL creates programs around entrepreneurship along with developing new and advancing technology. “What is happening now is that reduced friction across the building industry creates new opportunities and risks,” said Shelden. “Architects have an expanded reach into other domains and can tackle environmental engineering and other tasks that used to require retaining an outside consultant. But on the other side, that means developers and contractors can do in-house architectural and consulting work. So, we see a convergence in the industry, and there are great opportunities but also a lot of new competition that didn’t exist before.” The incubator champions AECO technology-related entrepreneurship while focusing on four technical areas representing the most disruptive potential for the AECO industries: data standards and interoperability, integrated project systems, design and construction automation, and smart buildings and cities. The laboratory currently hosts several departments: the living laboratory campus, a testing ground for “digitally integrated design, construction, and operations projects;” the technology test bed, a place for testing data exchange and interoperability scenarios; and a Digital Fabrication Lab, a 13,000-square-foot space for prototyping and research; as well as research and entrepreneurship programs. Contributing members to the DBL are Autodesk, Oldcastle, and Vectorworks, and associate members include Perkins+Will, the Smithsonian Institute, Thornton Tomasetti, Skanska, and SmartBIM Technologies.

Notable alumni include:

Kereshmeh Afsari

Defended thesis in November 2016 and is now an assistant professor in the School of Construction Management Technology and the Department of Computer Graphics Technology at Purdue University.

Marcelo Bernal

Graduated spring 2016 and is now an assistant professor in the department of architecture, Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María.

Yongcheol Lee

Defended thesis in November 2015 and is now an assistant professor at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, in the department of construction management.

Hugo Sheward

Defended thesis in fall 2015 and is now an assistant professor at the School of Architecture, University of Kansas.

Shiva Aram

Defended thesis in December 2015 and is now the strategy lead and senior product line manager at Cisco.

Talking about our tech future with the Digital Building Lab

When examining technology transforming the AEC industry, Dennis Shelden emerges as a thought leader. He is an expert in applying digital technology to building design, construction, and operations, with experience spanning across research, technology, and development, and professional practice, including multiple architecture, building engineering and computing disciplines. He was director of R&D and led the development of Frank Gehry’s digital practice from 1997-2002, eventually co-founding Gehry Technologies. Shelden has lectured and written widely on topics concerning computational applications to architecture. He currently directs the Digital Building Laboratory (DBL) at the Georgia Institute of Technology. AN Special Projects Director Marty Wood sat down with Shelden to learn more. The Architect’s Newspaper: Can you talk about the DBL and the new directions you are pursuing given the trends in emergent technology and software tools? Dennis Shelden: The DBL has always been an academic institution oriented toward industry advancement through applications of technology. We’ve pursued that ambition through three mechanisms. First, the DBL serves to create a community among professional firms, technology companies, and academic programs across Georgia Tech. We are at our most effective when we can be a bridge among these three constituencies through “active education and research”—connecting research faculty and students to real-world projects and enlisting emerging technologies in new ways. Second, the lab has a research mission of its own. Under my predecessor Professor Chuck Eastman, the DBL has become an important source of innovation and leadership in design computing, specifically in BIM, collaborative processes, open information exchange, and interoperability. Third, we are focused on building the next generation of technical leaders in architecture and construction, through educational curricula at all levels of the architecture and building construction programs at Georgia Tech. I believe that these three functions and our historical areas of research set us up to tackle some of the emerging trends in technology for the built environment. BIM data is finally moving to the web and the cloud, which will create a host of new opportunities connecting to and making use of this data. Some of these possibilities include connections to real-time data from building systems, Internet of Things, and connected mobile and social networks. We are also seeing a convergence between building level and city level information, where you manage and interact with large-scale built environment data that scales down to the individual room, fixture, or device. How is the business of AEC technology changing, and is there a role for academia in building out these new directions? The nature of technology development is definitely changing. In the 20th century, it required very large companies with many different functions to be able to develop and sell a software product. The technology product business was completely different than professional consulting services. But today the barriers to “industrializing” technology to the point where it can be consumed by others are much lower, since there is so much infrastructure out there that can be leveraged, and the web makes marketing and distribution so much easier to scale. Professional practice is changing, too, and we’re seeing firms that are exploring new ways of capitalizing on the innovations they create. More firms are creating open source software, developing plug-ins, or creating spin-offs to either offer new specialized services or pursue product innovations. At the same time, the AEC world needs open platforms for these innovations to be built on and connect to. Some of these are offered by software companies’ plug-in and app development platforms, but the world really needs open standards and communications capabilities based on modern web paradigms that can bridge across AEC disciplines. I believe that academia and government have important roles to play in building these open industry platforms. Being connected through the cloud is one thing, but is this just about better design tools? There is a lot of emerging discussion of cyber-physical systems and the idea of the digital twin. The idea of the digital twin is essentially that BIM will become part of the post-occupancy delivered building and “run in parallel” to the building systems and experienced environment. We’ve historically focused a lot on the technologies for designing and delivering buildings, but the possibilities for these technologies to create a continuum of information is potentially a huge opportunity for the industry. We also see a lot of interest from the tech industry starting to come into the AEC industry precisely because it sees the built environment as the next platform for interaction with technology. Are these things you practice internally? University campuses are small, contained cities with all the necessary functions from design and construction to the daily delivery services under one umbrella. So if we get this right for Georgia Tech, then we have a model for delivering built environment technology innovation that we can scale to the broader industry. Again, I think the open platforms for industry innovation will be built by academia and nonprofit enterprises to start. There must be examples of industry, in terms of interoperable standards, that get shared and not privatized. Novel delivery systems can give you a competitive advantage. Think about what it took for government, academia, and industry working together to create the internet. I think that’s a model for what AEC needs to do now. The next layer of what AEC needs to make that kind of value creation a possibility for all the stakeholders still has to be built. That’s kind of the nucleus, that kind of vision of a possible industry state, that we are trying to help build out in the next phase of the DBL.

At Lehrer, changes in construction practices requires a holistic approach to technology

If a company is looking to affect change in the AEC industry, where does it start? Artificial intelligence and machine learning are sexy (in a nerdy kind of way), but practical application is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. That intersection is where Dareen Salama, director of technical services at design and construction advisory firm Lehrer, LLC, found herself upon completing her Master of Science in Civil Engineering & Construction Management from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and entering the workforce. As the complexity of construction projects continues to grow due to advances in technology, Lehrer guides owners, developers and institutions through the process. “I started here in New York and realized [there’s a] divide between what is possible in terms of technology and what is really implemented in the industry,” she recalled. “So, then I took a step back and said, 'OK, so let’s keep machine learning and artificial intelligence on the side for now and kind of focus on the practical applications that are there.’” The project controls specialist concentrated her work on project management systems, building information modeling, project control systems, and other facets of the design and construction process to help implement new technologies within an industry that traditionally has been sluggish to adopt them.

Reaping the benefits of efficiency

The shift was pivotal. As Salama built the case for BIM, it opened the door to participate in many significant infrastructure projects across the country, including LaGuardia Airport, where she guided the Port Authority in implementing BIM and cloud-based systems to modernize its processes. After landing at Lehrer last year, Salama discovered “the real strength lies with the [building] owners. The owners have that holistic view of the full life cycle,” she explained. “They would reap the benefits of efficiency through design, construction, and facility management and operation. So that’s what Lehrer focuses on,” she said. Lehrer’s primary function is to advise clients engaged in major construction projects, but the firm’s view of a project doesn’t just begin with design and end with TCO or construction completion, however. “Aiding in delivering a beautifully-designed project within budget and schedule is a given—we are thinking beyond that, thinking about the end user, whether it is the person using the building as a resident, or the person running the building as the operator,” said Elissa Conners, marketing manager at Lehrer. “And that’s really where the data piece of leveraging the efficiency that is slowly but surely becoming mainstream in the industry in design and construction [comes in] and utilizing it to help optimize facilities, operations and maintenance when running the building.” Salama is currently involved in one of New York City’s major infrastructure upgrade projects at the Jacob K. Javits Center expansion, focusing on design, construction, and facility management to realize efficiencies through technology and innovation. Implementing technology in projects like the Javits Center and across the industry boils down to three things: technology, people, and process. “I think the industry is really facing challenges with all of that,” she noted. While many may argue technology has “arrived,” Salama disagrees as far as the AEC industry is concerned­. “The technology is out there in terms of concepts and algorithms and platforms that we use in anything else but construction,” she observed. While the industry continues to lag behind consumer electronics, for example, Salama sees growing interest from investors in startups that have emerged in the industry during the past year.

Cultural, process challenges are significant

The people variable presents an even more significant barrier to progress, not only from a hierarchical or cultural standpoint, but also in terms of attracting talent. Salama explains how on any given project, there may be 60 to 70 different companies involved, from the owner to the consultants and the subcontractors. As a result, “it’s quite difficult to change the culture throughout all these different companies and try to figure out technology that works for all of them given the duration that you have.” She notes that during the course of a three-year project, a third of that time may be spent attempting to get people on board with process and technology modifications. Additionally, she said, it’s rare to see young talent coming from computer science schools entering the AEC field. “It’s just not the go-to industry for top talent. They would definitely go in other directions,” she explained, adding that if technology graduates better understood the opportunity, the industry would be well-poised to attract them. Finally, altering construction practices requires much more than a surface-level application of new technologies—yet attempting to automate old processes is commonplace. Existing document standards, contracts, and specifications that function in the world of hard copies and standard contract delivery methods simply doesn’t translate well into cloud-based systems, BIM, and mobile apps, she noted. “It’s not an easy fix of, ‘Let’s just apply technology; let’s just buy this piece of software,’ which people are frankly looking for,” she said. “It’s not really about what you buy, but it has to be embedded in everything that you do: your people, your process, and then at the end, what you buy fits that world.”

Digital sketching app makes it easy to create perspective drawings

For years, leaders of architectural firms have bemoaned the lack of hand drawing skills among recent graduates and young professionals entering the practice. With a tendency to bypass hand drawing and rely primarily on computer-aided design software and BIM, it seemed for a time as though hand sketching was a dying art among architectural apprentices. To that point, the late Michael Graves observed in a 2012 op-ed piece in The New York Times that it had “become fashionable in architectural circles to declare the death of drawing.” As digital design and drawing tools have become more sophisticated in recent years, however, it’s clear not only that the art of hand sketching is alive and well, but also that technology is ushering in a revival of illustrating and is transforming the process of architectural drawing for the better. “What we’re seeing right now is a huge renaissance in terms of the generation who is already out in offices, and they’re saying to us, ‘We are so happy to be drawing again,’” explained Anna Kenoff, co-founder of creative app development company, Morpholio. Recognizing a need in the market for architectural tools that go beyond simply doodling on a tablet, Kenoff and company launched Morpholio Trace, a drawing app created specifically for architects and designers that infuses “digital magic” into the analog tools of trace paper, technical pens, rulers, triangles, and stencils. “Our app puts scale drawing at the center of the experience, letting designers work intuitively with an iPad Pro and their hands while not losing any accuracy in the process” said Kenoff. With Trace, architects and designers can sketch over computer-generated models, mark up PDF’s of construction drawings, or sketch ideas as they evolve from concept to reality. Additionally, Morpholio added augmented reality (AR) to Trace with the recent launch of its AR Perspective Finder feature. Powered by the iPad and Apple’s ARKit to read and interpret the surrounding environment, this new drawing tool allows users to uncover virtual perspective girds to scale, anywhere. How It Works By launching the camera from within the Trace app’s ‘Projects’ area, architects can point the device toward a surface, which the iPad will automatically register and render an overlaying grid. The center point is set by tapping the screen at the desired location and can be rotated with the swipe of a finger. The scaled grid can then be presented for a walk through or captured by the app to automatically set up a drawing with the background, grid, and vanishing points ready to sketch over—simplifying the process of creating perspective drawings when compared to traditional hand-drawing methods. AR Trace Turns Your iPad into a Virtual Perspective Finder to Help You Draw Like a Pro from Morpholio on Vimeo. “What architects and designers draw literally becomes our world but it always requires cumbersome CAD products to effectively visualize those designs” said Morpholio Co-Founder Mark Collins in a press release. “With ARKit and Perspective Finder, we are leaving behind the frustrations and limitations of conventional perspective drawing, yet continuing to further amplify hand drawing, thanks to the iPadPro and Apple Pencil; a gift to designers who value the freedom, intuition and joy of sketching.”

Tessellated BIM cloud wraps new engineering school

An undulating aluminum panels rainscreen features around 9000 individual triangular panels, with 1000 high performance glass units.

York University is a research-oriented public university in Toronto known for its arts, humanities & business programs. Nestled into the landscape on the edge of campus and overlooking a pond and arboretum, the Bergeron Center for Engineering Excellence is a 169,000 sq. ft., five-story LEED Gold facility housing classrooms, laboratory spaces, offices, and flexible informal learning and social spaces. Designed with the idea of a scaleless, dynamically changing cloud in mind, ZAS Architects + Interiors designed an ovoid-shaped building wrapped in a custom triangulated aluminum composite panel (ACP) cladding with structural silicone glazed (SSG) type windows. Costas Catsaros, Associate at ZAS, says the building will help to establish the emerging school by establishing a dynamic, ever-changing identity. There are two main generators of the Bergeron Centre’s cloud geometry: the building floor plate shape, and various forces manipulating the topology of the cladding surface. The floor plan is designed around 8 curves: a primary curve establishing north, south, east, and west orientations, along with a radius at each corner. Center points of the radii provide reference points for additional sets of geometry and field surveying benchmarks during the construction phase. The resulting ovoid-shaped floor plate, challenged the architects with developing an effective way to wrap the building. They focused on the work of Sir Roger Penrose, a mathematical physicist, mathematician and philosopher of science, whose tessellation patterns inspired an efficient way to generate repetitive patterns using a limited number of shapes. Through an intensive design process, the architects were able to clad 85% of the building using only three triangular shapes, scaled based on industry standard limitations for ACP panel sizes. The other panels were cropped by undulating edge geometry along the soffit and parapet edge curves of the surface. To achieve a dynamic effect, the panels inflect at up to 2” in depth, creating an individualized normal vector per panel. By canting the triangulated panels, subtle variation in color and reflectivity is achieved. Additionally, the architects scattered color-changing dichroic paneling throughout a field of reflective anodized panels, while dark colored panels casually cluster around window openings to blur the perceptual edge between solid and void.  
  • Facade Manufacturer Flynn (building envelope system), Norwex Steel (steel fabricator)
  • Architects ZAS Architects + Interiors
  • Facade Installer Laing O’Rourke (contractor)
  • Facade Consultants Flynn (building envelope), Blackwell (structural engineering)
  • Location Toronto, Canada
  • Date of Completion 2015
  • System Curtain wall and custom rainscreen assembly clipped to cast-in-place concrete structure
  • Products Aluminum composite panels with dark gray, light gray, and dichroic finishes; Structural silicone glazed (SSG) windows by APA Systems (Ireland)
The building substrate framing is designed with the complex geometry of the rainscreen system in mind. A modular pre-framed structural unit was developed through a highly coordinated BIM information exchange process which resulted in custom support collar detailing at window openings, a unique two-piece girt system to provide concealed attachment for the ACP panels, and a method to allow for up to 1” of tolerance within the wall assembly through reveal gaps in the cladding. During this process, a design model was passed along from the architects to the structural engineer, who developed a construction model in a 3D CAD Design Software. This model was utilized to generate shop drawings, and shared with the steel fabricator, who shared the model with Flynn, a building envelope consultant, to coordinate the rainscreen panelization with respect to window openings in the building envelope. Catsaros says this was a very successful leverage of BIM technology: "It was a very intense process, but worth it in the end. Laing O’Rourke [general contractor] was able to close in the building a lot faster than if this had been done in a conventional process." Closing in the building early in the construction process was critical on this job, which required an opening date in time for the beginning of the school year in September. This required a peak in construction activity during the middle of winter, which would have presented difficulty on an open job site. The off site production and rapid assembly of the building envelope established a warm dry environment for the installation of sophisticated (and costly) laboratory equipment and building systems, none of which would have been possible with the threat of cold weather and moisture an open building invites.

Anaheim’s ARTIC high speed rail station packs a serious technical punch

HOK’s ARTIC, Anaheim's high speed rail train station which AN featured today, is as much a story about technology and engineering as it is about high design. Slated to achieve a LEED Platinum rating, ARTIC is the product of an integrated, multidisciplinary BIM design process where key decisions about technology and engineering were brought into the design process from the beginning to achieve a high-tech, high-performance, and high-efficiency building. The building’s curved diagrid geometry, rationalized using CATIA, is like a contemporary reboot of the glass and steel structures that defined iconic terminals like Philadelphia’s Broad Street Station and New York City’s original Penn Station. The parabolic shell design was also utilized for its structural efficiency and for its environmental properties. For efficiency, the design team decided to go with ultra-lightweight ETFE pillows (1/100th the weight of glass). This allowed for significant reductions in foundation size and structural member dimensions. ARTIC is currently the largest ETFE-clad building in North America, with over 200,000 square feet of the high-tech material covering most of the building’s long-span shell. The ETFE system also helps to regulate heat gain and maximize daylighting while maintaining an environment that utilizes a mixed mode natural ventilation system. The building’s shape and translucent ETFE envelope work in concert with a radiant heating and cooling slab system in the public areas (optimized HVAC is used in office and retail spaces) to produce a microclimate through convection currents. This makes it possible for the building to be naturally ventilated most of the time. Heat rises and escapes through operable louvers at the top portions of the north and south curtain walls.

Dig Deep into Digital Design at Facades+ Dallas

Today’s AEC professionals are more to reach for a computer mouse then they are a drafting pencil. Understanding and being able fully utilize cutting-edge digital design tools is essential to contemporary architectural practice, particularly the design of high-performance building skins. Attendees at next month’s Facades+ Dallas conference can choose among four hands-on tech workshops in a unique program designed to deliver in-depth exposure to platforms including Autodesk Revit, Autodesk Vasari, and Grasshopper. The tech workshops, all of which focus specifically on building enclosures, “are heavily attended by professionals, by people wanting to take that next step and participate in a more active dialogue,” said Mode Lab’s Ronnie Parsons. “They are at once about learning, and about taking on the role of a leader who could potentially shape what’s happening—who could be on the podium next time.” The Dallas lineup includes “Computational Design for BIM,” taught by Parsons and Erick Katzenstein, also of Mode Lab; “Balancing Cost and Performance Through Simulation,” with HKS LINE’s Tim Logan and Paul Ferrer; “Parametric Facade Design Fundamentals,” led by Andrew Vrana of Metalab; and “Environmental Analysis and Facade Optimization Strategies,” taught by Colin McCrone and Mohammad Asl, both of Autodesk. Participants in “Computational Design for BIM” will also receive a one-month complimentary subscription to Mode Lab Academy. The tech workshops take place on the second day of Facades+ Dallas at CityPlace Events. They are designed to draw from and extend the discussions begun during the symposium on day 1, explained Parsons. “The way that the Facades+ conference has been crafted is in terms of a holistic experience.” For information and to register for tech workshops, visit the conference website.

LMN Architects Materialize a Metaphor in Cleveland

A digitally-designed medical products showroom plays well with its City Beautiful neighbors.

The Global Center for Health Innovation, designed by LMN Architects along with the attached Cleveland Convention Center, is more than a showroom for medical products and services. Located adjacent to the Burnham Malls, the open space at the heart of Daniel Burnham’s Group Plan of 1903, the building is part of Cleveland’s civic core. “One of the things about the Global Center is that it has a unique expression and in particular the facade treatment,” said design partner Mark Reddington. “But it’s also a really integrated piece of a bigger idea and a bigger composition.” A dynamic combination of textured concrete panels and irregular slashes of glazing, the Global Center’s facade, which won honorable mention in AN’s 2014 Best of Design Awards, deftly negotiates the gap between the building’s historic context and its function as a high-tech marketplace. The Global Center’s City Beautiful surrounds influenced its facade design in several ways. “Part of the trick for us in looking at the Global Center,” said project architect Stephen Van Dyck, “was to try and make a building that was contemporary and relevant, but also a building that referred and deferred to its context materially and compositionally.” As a reflection on the solidity of the older structures ringing the Malls, the architects minimized glazing in the east face’s concrete system. In addition, they chose the color and aggregates of the concrete to mimic the tone of limestone. The texturing on the concrete panels, too, was informed by the Global Center’s context. “Like the classical buildings, there’s a lot of detail that shows up in different lighting conditions,” said Reddington. At the same time, the Global Center is very much a product of the 21st century. “There was an explicit intention in creating a facade whose qualities would not have been achievable without digital technology,” said Van Dyck. “It doesn’t look like it was handcrafted. It was primarily an exercise in allowing the technical means of creation and design to live forever on the outside of this building.” In particular, he said, the architects were interested in how their chosen material—precast concrete—allowed them to move beyond a punched-window system to a more complicated relationship between solids and voids. The result eventually became a scientific metaphor, as the designers observed the resemblance of the pattern to the twisting helices of a DNA molecule. LMN developed the facade design on a remarkably short timeline: about four months from concept to shop drawings. “The schedule requirements of the whole thing were absurd,” said Van Dyck. To make modifying the design as easy as possible, the architects developed a utility called Cricket to link Grasshopper and Revit. The ability to update the BIM model in real time convinced the design-build team to take risks despite the compressed timeframe. “Once they realized there was a strong mastery of the data, an ability to listen and incorporate the needs of [multiple] parties, that was really the breakthrough,” explained Van Dyck. “They said, ‘Hey, we can build something that’s a little unconventional.’”
  • Facade Manufacturer Sidley Precast Group, NUPRESS Group
  • Architects LMN Architects
  • Facade Consultant Facade Forensics
  • Facade Installer Harmon
  • Location Cleveland, OH
  • Date of Completion June 2013
  • System Precast concrete panels and glazing welded to vertical steel tubes, structural glass wall
  • Products Precast concrete panels by Sidley Precast Group, Viracon VU1-40 (glazing), Viracon VE1-2M (atrium wall)
Besides their Cricket plug-in, a 3D printer was LMN’s most valuable tool during the design process. To explore how the panels’ texturing would animate the facade under different lighting conditions, they created plaster models from 3D-printed casts. “We had to do that because the geometry was so complex that we didn’t have any computers at the time that were capable of [modeling it],” said Van Dyck. “For us, working between the physical, digital, hand-drawn renderings were all so critical in discovering what we ultimately ended up building.” Sidley Precast Group fabricated the concrete panels with a surface pattern of horizontal joints that vary in depth and height. To minimize cost, the fabricators made almost all of the molds from a single 8-by-10-foot master formliner, with horizontal ribs spaced every 6 inches acting as dams for the smaller molds. While LMN Architects originally wanted to limit the number of panel types to eight, the final count was around 50, including larger pieces made by connecting smaller panels vertically. The approximately 400 precast panels were moved by crane to a system of vertical steel tubes running from slab to slab, then welded into place. The Viracon glazing was welded to the same tubes, a couple of inches back from the face of the concrete. The large atrium window on the building’s east face was manufactured by NUPRESS Group. For the architects, the significance of the Global Center’s facade remains tied to its broader context. Its design, while driven by modern technology, achieves a surprising degree of harmony with its surroundings. “Our building is in a way very classical, though it wasn’t an explicit intention of ours,” said Van Dyck. “To create a language that was both universal and also something that was really new—from our perspective that was a big achievement of the project.”

Chris O’Hara to Deliver Dynamic Facades at Facades+ PERFORMANCE

With only one month remaining before Facades+ PERFORMANCE opens in Chicago, our exciting lineup of the industry’s leading innovators is gearing up for an electrifying array of symposia, panels, and workshops. Be there for this groundbreaking, two-day convergence of design and construction professionals, presented by AN and Enclos, coming to Chicago, October 24-25th. Join Chris O’Hara, founding Principal of Boulder-based Studio NYL, for his day-one symposium, “Ludicrous Speed: the Design and Delivery of Non-traditional Facades on a Fast Track,” and learn first-hand from the experts the technologies and fabrication techniques that are revolutionizing the next generation of high performance facades. Register today to redefine performance for 21st century architecture, only at Facades+ PERFORMANCE. After graduating with a B.S. in civil engineering from the University of Notre Dame, Chris O’Hara began his career in New York with M.G. McLaren Consulting Engineers, where he was confronted with a host of unique structural engineering projects, from amusement park rides to New York’s Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History with Ennead Architects. Things really got going for O’Hara when he joined up with London-based Dewhurst Macfarlane Partners and began to work closely with visionary architect Rafael Viñoly. Leading high-profile projects like Viñoly’s David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburg and the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, O’Hara developed innovative structural solutions that allowed for the pioneering architect to exercise the breadth of his architectural expression. In 2004 O’Hara relocated to Boulder, Colorado to launch his structural engineering firm, Studio NYL, who have since become renowned for their diligent application of emerging technologies and inventive structural solutions. Their adventurous, detail-oriented work has drawn the attention progressive architects, both local and global, while O’Hara’s integration of multiple design software programs and use of complex geometries made him a literal poster-boy for Autodesk. In his daily practice, O’Hara oversees the use of BIM and other advanced analytic technologies and leads the design of innovative forms in BIM, REVIT, and direct-to-fabrication CAD/CAM softwares. Collaborating with fellow Facades+ presenters Rojkind Arquitectos, O’Hara has pushed the boundaries of structure and design on pioneering projects like the aluminum and glass enclosure of the Cineteca National and the digitally fabricated metal skin of Liverpool Flagship store in Mexico City. Designed and built in little over a year, the Liverpool Flagship store is a stunning product of international collaboration, technological instigation, and fast-paced delivery. Studio NYL lead the design for the structural elements of the atrium, rooftop park and pavilions, skylight, and stainless-steel facade for the 30,000 square meter shopping center. Using BIM software to coordinate the work of multiple trades on complex geometries, Studio NYL and Rojkind Arquitectos constructed the fluid folds and fine reliefs of the shopping center’s sound-blocking double-layer facade. Learn more about the secrets to delivering innovative, high-performance building envelopes on a tight schedule as O’Hara presents a series of dynamic new projects in his afternoon symposia, and don’t miss out as frequent-collaborator Gerardo Salinas, principal of Rojkind Arquitectos, presents his exciting keynote address earlier that day! Register now to cash in on our Early Bird Special, and check out the rest of the groundbreaking schedule of events at the full Facades+ PERFORMANCE site. See you in Chicago!

Fentress, CO Architects Recognized at 2013 BIM Awards

The AIA Technology in Architectural Practice (TAP), in association with BIM Forum, The Construction Owners Association of America (COAA), and the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) have announced the winners of the 9th Annual Building Information Modeling (BIM) Awards which recognize the firms who best utilize BIM technology. Out of 16 submissions the jury selected two winners and three honorable mentions. CO Architects took home the "Stellar architecture using BIM" prize for their work on the Health Sciences Education Building, Phoenix Biomedical Campus (pictured above). According to a press release the project showed "an exceptional understanding of universal BIM usage, team integration, and requirements for successful implementation from programming to as built." Fentress Architects and Mortensen Construction were recognized for the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center in Denver and  were awarded the "Delivery Process Innovation" prize. According to the press release the project exhibited "impressive statements of advanced levels of detailing in BIM, coordination, and cooperation." Honorable mentions were given to The Miller Hull Partnership for their design of the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry in Seattle, Collins Woerman and GLY Construction for the Puyallup Medical Center, Group Health Cooperative in Washington, and the University of Cincinnati their curriculum deveopment program titled "Building Relationships, University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning." The jury comprised of RK Stewart, the 2007 AIA president and current chairman of National Institute of Building Sciences board of directors; Harry McKinney, virtual design construction manager at Clancy & Theys Construction Co.; Tom Sawyer, senior editor at Engineering News-Record; Dennis Shelden, chief technology officer at Gehry Technologies; and Eric Teicholz, president and CEO at Graphic Systems.

Nemetschek Vectorworks to host BIM Camps this November

Attend a Nemetschek Vectorworks BIM Camp, and learn how easy it can be to adopt a BIM workflow! BIM Camps will take place November 1 in New York City and November 9 in San Francisco. Attendees will better understand how IFC-based standards benefit design teams, create sustainable and high-performing designs, and enable collaboration through Open BIM. Don’t miss this chance to earn 4 AIA/CES/HSW or LA CES PDH learning units and receive a BIM Survival Kit, loaded with presentation materials and other resources. Register today for a BIM Camp in New York City or San Francisco. Your small registration fee will fund the Vectorworks Young Architects Student Scholarship program. Event sponsors and participants include: buildingSMART alliance; buildingSMART alliance Interest Group NYC; François Lévy Architect; Novedge; Nemetschek Scia; Severson & Werson, A Professional Corporation, and Zetlin & De Chiara LLP. Questions? Email BIMcamp@vectorworks.net or call 888-646-4223.