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The Evolving Tech World

Architects, engineers and contractors, commonly called AEC, are constantly looking for the “next big thing”. Design professionals communicate ideas on how to build, generally using lines and symbols. Words are symbols and we use paper or a monitor as the media. Our one universal mission is to communicate accurately, visualize, then construct the final product.


While AutoCAD is a common AEC industry language, VR or Virtual Reality apps are the big game changers. New presentation software such as Lumion and Enscape https://medium.com/studiotmd/virtual-reality-uses-in-architecture-and-design-c5d54b7c1e89

allow designers to render 3D focused or panoramic images which can be exported and used in various VR devices or even on your average smartphone using a scannable code. This allows people to explore simulated spaces and concepts before a shovel hits the dirt.


AI, Artificial Intelligence, has become the holy grail of construction. It is the collecting and application of enormous amounts of data to build our complex environment. Currently BIM or Building Information Modeling https://interestingengineering.com/5-ways-artificial-intelligence-is-changing-architecture is a close software proximity that helps layer buildings but it’s not really intelligent.


Here are a few AI advantages:


· AI’s can use tons of data to help make recommendations early in the design process


· Construction will become more efficient and more timely


· Cities will become smarter using real time data and feedback making planning decisions smoother


· Our homes will evolve in both design and function for energy and personal use

https://interestingengineering.com/5-ways-artificial-intelligence-is-changing-architecture


Holograms like Princess Leia from Star Wars may be the future but we’re not there yet. In simple terms, holograms are beams of light projected to produce 3D image illusions. We all probably have credit cards and cash holograms in our wallets. However, we need confidence that what we see is accurate and we are not fooled by a false sense of wonder. We know a picture can be worth 1,000 words, but it can also be a 1,000 lies.

Architects and engineers need to work together to make the technology work for them. Naturally, the fear is the learning curve takes too much time and effort or that it may replace design professionals. Nothing could be further from the truth. The human experience and intuition cannot be captured in a bottle, at least not yet.


The building reality can only be conveyed by direct communications with a professional. When you are talking to a contractor, a structural engineer, or an architect, you need to have confidence that they aren’t using these instruments to fool you into a false sense of success.

And yet we still use ancient technology such as inches and feet, 10 penny nails, ancient water levels, rods, fathoms, and acres. New tech platforms are exploding to vastly change the way we design and build. AEC business practices including design, delivery, observation, business practices and general technology are shifting rapidly but not all professionals are taking advantage.

As for me, my office uses AutoCAD and Sketchup all day. AutoCAD, like English, is a terrible language but everybody uses it. But give me a pencil and I’m in heaven!

Chris d. Craiker AIA/NCARB, is a Napa Architect with Craiker Architects & Planners. He has been designing sustainable building for more than 40 years.

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