Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What Interesting Times We Live In...

All year I've felt an increasing level of maturity in Revit add-ins and related technologies (more on that at year end when I write up the 2014 Revit add-in award winners) and in the last week the pace of exciting change has seemed to be cranked up to 11 (with all due respect to Spinal Tap).

For instance, energy analysis came to computational programming via Dynamo.

Autodesk Labs rolled out 5 new sustainable design apps:

Also, CASE announced a research project they initiated, BLDG 2.0. Inspired by the principles of mass collaboration and collective intelligence, BLDG 2.0 seeks to fill the void between design intent and verified building performance by providing an open-source analytical interface to building performance databases, a collaborative community of experts, and an online marketplace for ideas emphasizing building energy performance and open innovation.

Perhaps most exciting of all, Google set out to automate the A/E/C industry. Before I go into details on this one though, allow me to share a related personal story. 

In the late 1990's, I read an op/ed piece by the editor of MicroStation Manager magazine. It was about a new Internet search site named, you guessed it, Google. The editor, whose name I've long since forgotten. opined that this. was going to change. EVERYTHING.

I checked out the Google site, saw the now iconic sparse page design – the single search field surrounded by a sea of white – and exclaimed, out loud, at work, "Who gives a [expletive]?!?! And what the [expletive] is an article on an entirely unrelated piece of technology doing in MicroStation Manager magazine?!?!"

Until now I've only resented the editor's foresight because, in my imagination, he's retired and sitting on a tropical beach in a chair made of cash. Now I resent him even more on the grounds that he may truly have had the gift of foresight – because now Flux, the first startup company to spin out of Google[x], the research moonshot lab and incubator at Google dedicated to projects such as the driverless car and Google glass, has set out to automate the AEC industry by creating "seed" buildings that take on different forms and characteristics depending upon where they're "planted" in the urban built environment. 

I've long thought that BIM was not the end state of building design technology (regardless of what the marketing folks tell us, BIM as a technology is really just better CAD – lots better, but still...) One of the most interesting questions to me has been, what's next? I've long thought it to be computational design ala GenerativeComponents, Grasshopper and, now, Dynamo. I think I was right, but I wasn't forward thinking enough. Google, however, was. 

There's a fantastic article about Flux and their efforts to automate the A/E/C industry here.

How to close an article that touches on so many exciting developments rolled out or announced in just the past week? Being from Seattle, I can only think of one of the signature calls of the late great Hall of Fame Mariners announcer Dave Niehaus, "My oh my!"


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