Exploring an Architect’s Increasing Reliance on Software: A Breakthrough Study

Software is powerful for many reasons, but most importantly because it allows people from different disciplines to work together towards one main goal to create something monumental. 

This Market Research 2018 Benchmark Report was developed by Modelo, based on the responses of 508 AEC professionals from different company sizes from around the globe. We conducted this research because we wanted to capture first-hand how the technology landscape in the AEC industry is rapidly changing, how these professionals relate to software in their workflows, and the pace at which these changes are occurring.

We’ll take you through some key findings from our research, such as attitudes towards the current state of technology, Building Information Modeling (BIM), Virtual Reality (VR), and predictions for the future. We’ve also outlined this in the infographic below. 

You can download this eBook as a PDF as well as download our infographic.

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Attitudes towards the current state of technology and software
Overall, software in the AEC industry has enabled buildings to be made smarter, teams to arrive at design decisions faster, and project stakeholders to communicate much more clearly.

There’s a desire to create cutting-edge designs that are not only functional for the client, but ones that break through barriers to achieve personal goals and satisfy an architect’s intrinsic drive to create a space for people to connect, come together, and share moments, from the intimate to the mundane.

Notably, 98% of architects feel that technology is becoming ever more present in their workflow and has positively transformed the way organizations collaborate, build, and design today. AEC professionals are most successful when they pair a forward-thinking mindset with intuitive, multifunctional technology, allowing for transparency with clients and productive design reviews.

Further, 75% of respondents agree that software should save time and create efficiencies, therefore the interoperability between platforms is key. Software should enable cross-disciplinary collaboration between different teams to reach project goals and prevent mistakes down the road.

Lastly, over of architecture firms are willing to use new software on the market, which demonstrates these firms are continuing to make dynamic shifts toward becoming software-reliant organizations. Further, the research suggests that software platforms should have a thorough onboarding process to guide firms through the early stages of implementation to overcome any challenges.

Building Information Modeling (BIM)
Multifunctional platforms are changing industry standards because they save time and create efficiencies. Interestingly, 95% of respondents agree that BIM will continue to have a huge impact, as well as BIC, BIP, and DAM for enhanced collaboration, reducing costs, and immersive presentations/showcasing. Building Integrated Collaboration (BIC), Building Immersive Presentation (BIP), and Design Asset Management (DAM) help to revolutionize workflows and equally involve all stakeholders in the design-build process for an effective and successful process.

Virtual Reality (VR)
Although the AEC industry may have initially been slow to adopt Virtual Reality (VR), it is now becoming a staple in the industry, allowing various disciplines to work together in order to understand designs better.

Touring models in Virtual Reality (VR) has become a key ingredient for engaging and immersing clients in realistic views of 3D designs. The research shows that this trend is becoming more popular at earlier stages in the design review process. In fact, 75% of respondents agree that VR makes client presentations more interactive, thus promoting collaboration and participation in the AEC space throughout the process.

When VR is used both internally to explore unbuilt designs with colleagues, as well as externally to collaborate with clients, contractors, or even non-CAD users, everyone is more involved and communication is clearer.

Predictions for the future
Rapid changes are already occurring in the AEC industry. So, it’s no surprise that these trends will continue to grow and software will continue to be a major component in the making of buildings and infrastructure. In the next half-decade, digital skills are crucial for winning new clients and shaping the future to be smart and useful. 

Additionally, collaboration software will be necessary for all stakeholders to access and host designs without prior knowledge of CAD. The time required to learn new software is a challenge for firms, therefore new tools should be stronger, straight-forward, and have a robust onboarding process to guide them through early stages of implementation.

Finally, IT and BIM Managers will continue to grow in firms to increase productivity, adopt new software for creating cutting-edge designs, and enhance the overall design process in firms of any size.

As a reminder, you can download the eBook and infographic as a PDF.

5 Amazing Things You Never Knew About Steel

Steel is what is classified as an alloy metal, made from iron and other materials which primarily include carbon. Due to its high tensile strength, and low cost, steel is widely utilized in a number of different ways in this day and age, which includes the utilization of steel in the development of new technologies.

A significant number of industries rely on steel, including the use of steel in such things as buildings, infrastructure, tools, ships, automobiles, machines, appliances, and weapons.

#1 Steel Expands Significantly When Heated
All metals expand, at least to some degree when they are heated. Ultimately, they reach a point at which the expansion moves to liquefaction. Mercury, a metal, is actually in a liquid state at room temperature.

Steel has an expansion level that is significant relative to many other metals. This is likely to have application in a number of areas, including when it comes to the use of steel in green technologies. The ability of steel to expand, even with more incremental increases in ambient temperature levels, is being analyzed and considered by researchers and inventors in the realm of advancing green energy technologies in the 21st century.

The Eiffel Tower is a prime illustration of the expansion rate of steel when it heats up. The Eiffel Tower is actually a full six inches taller in the summer time than is the case throughout other times of the year.

Image courtesy of Saurav Rastogi

#2 Steel is Amazingly Eco-friendly
A growing segment of the population is becoming more concerned with protecting the environment. These individuals continue to look for ways in which they contribute to protecting, and even bettering, the world around us. In this regard, the use of steel is a means of making a positive contribution to the environment.

At first blush, you might not think of steel as being associated with “going green” or protecting the environment. The reality is, thanks to technological advancements at the end of the 20th and into the 21st centuries, steel has become one of the most eco-friendly products available.

What’s more, steel can be reused time and again. Unlike many other metals, steel doesn’t lose any of its strength through the recycling process. This has made steel one of the most recycled items in the world today.

The net effect of the technological advancements that have resulted in the massive amount of steel being recycled each year is profound. Due to this evolution, the energy required to produce steel has been cut by more than half in the past 30 years. This has resulted in a significant benefit to the environment through reduced pollution through the utilization of far less energy.

Image courtesy of American Public Power Association

#3 Steel is Universal — Literally
Not only is steel widely available and utilized on Earth, but scientists believe that it can be found throughout the universe. Indeed, scientists and researchers concluded that steel is the sixth most common element to be found in the universe.

Image courtesy of NASA

#4 Steel: It All Started Working on the Railroad
Steel is not only at the heart of many technological advances in the 21st century, it has been in such a position throughout history. Steel was one of the most important products needed to build the railroad system in the United State in the 1800s. The use of steel in building the rails resulted in one of the most significant advances in the commercial life of the United States, and the world.

Image courtesy of Tiago Gerkin

#5 Your Home: It’s a Steel Environment
You likely have not given this much thought, but your home is an environment that depends heavily on steel. Virtually any appliance in your residence has steel elements on it or in it. Indeed, the typical appliance in your home is likely to be composed of about 65% steel. This includes common appliances such as:

  • refrigerator
  • microwave
  • oven and stove
  • toaster

The reality is that even the computer you are reading this blog on contains a notable amount of steel. The typical computer is comprised of about 25% steel.

Recently, there has been a movement towards installing steel pipes in residences as well. In fact, there is an array of different derivations of steel used for residential, commercial, and industrial pipe installations. Further, technological advances in regard to residences are also utilizing steel, including utilizing steel in more effective insulation panels.

Image courtesy of Naomi Hébert

Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who writes for Federal Steel Supply, Inc., a leading steel tubing suppliers of carbon, alloy and stainless steel pipe, tubes, fittings and flanges.

 

How to stop urban sprawl? Build a vertical green city

The idea that cities can be incorporated into nature, as opposed to taking it over, is intriguing. As the climate continues to change, populations continue to migrate to cities further driving urbanism, and society places ever-increasing importance on sustainability, Italian architect Stefano Boeri from Stefano Boeri Architetti has sought to address these challenges through his work.

Boeri wants to eradicate the concept of a concrete jungle. His latest contribution to the worldwide Vertical ForestING trend he was responsible for starting, Vertical Forest City, seeks to stop urban sprawl by constructing a 30,000 person city that works symbiotically with nature; one that works with nature, as opposed to taking it over.

Image courtesy of Stefano Boeri Architetti

Located in Liuzhou on the Liujiang River in China’s mountainous Guanxi region, construction on the 138-hectare site began in 2017. Once completed in 2020, the green city will be capable of housing up to the 30,000 residents and will include residential housing, commercial offices, hotels, two schools, multiple recreation areas, and a hospital. Over 100 species of flora will be dispersed throughout the city which will contribute nearly 40,000 trees and 1 million plants. Together, this biomass will absorb 10,000 tons of CO2 and 57 tons of pollutants every years and produce 900 tons of oxygen.

Image courtesy of Stefano Boeri Architetti

Furthermore, the diffusion of plants along streets, in parks and gardens, and on building facades, will contribute to improving the quality of the surrounding air for residents, as well as create natural nose barriers, decrease average air temperatures, and provide a habitat for Liuzhou’s native fauna, thereby improving the biodiversity of the region.

Image courtesy of Stefano Boeri Architetti

The sustainable city will be connected to Liuzhou by fast rail and will be energy self-sufficient, drawing on geothermal energy for air-conditioning and solar panels to power other energy requirements.   

Boeri’s Vertical Forest City is not without precedent. In 2014, his first Vertical Forest design, Bosco Verticale, was opened in Milan. A pair of award-winning residential buildings in Milan’s Porta Nuova district reaching heights of 110m (361 ft) and 76m (249 ft) respectively, the design incorporates over 900 trees and 20,000 plants. The success of this project, as well as Vertical Forest City, has gone on to inspire other projects around the world including in three other Chinese cities, Nanjing (due for completion in 2018), Shanghai and Shenzhen.

Modelo’s occasional blog series on green architecture examines how architecture is making a contribution to increased sustainability within our built environment. In another post on this topic, we posted about building sustainability and the movement an increasing number of architects and contractors are making towards designing and building green homes.

The Top 5 Things Architects Can Improve on During Client Presentations|Modelo

In this post, we’ll highlight the top 5 things that architects can improve on during client presentations. Client presentations are a huge part of our job as architects and communicating your vision to clients should be clear and engaging. Read on to learn how to create interactive 3D presentations and utilize Virtual Reality with clients.

A typical CAD interface

1. Directly showing clients a CAD modeling interface
Let’s face it, people like to see stuff in 3D, but CAD modeling software like Rhino, SketchUp or Revit is too complicated and overwhelming for non-users to understand. Many cases have shown that clients love the interactiveness of presentations, like animations, VR etc. 

Image courtesy of BIG

2. A lack of back-up options beside renderings
Clients get hooked on with very minor things in one image and sometimes don’t let go. It’s always nicer to have more renderings and more design options to show, however with demanding deadlines, we never have enough time to make those happen. Nonetheless, it’s important to have multiple images to back up your renderings.

Miscommunication can lead to terrible results

3. Spending too much time and money on what the client doesn’t want 
Before the presentation, everything we do is based on our assumptions. We need to better communicate with our clients from the beginning. Other service-based industries like law or consulting firms all have a client-centric approach, which means more communication in order to understand what they really need. 

Clients usually don’t understand or appreciate complicated drawings.

4. Presentation materials that are too theoretical or diagrammatical
There is such thing as “too much architectural dialogue.” Most architects are trained to present designs in an abstract and philosophical way. In reality, people don’t think or understand in that way, especially if they are not in the industry.

Be like an architect

5. Lack of style
Style is relative, but as architectural professionals, it’s always better to show your clients that you have something special. Styles could be the way you talk, present, dress and of course, your design. 

At Modelo, we are building a platform that help architects to communicate the vision of their design to clients and other stakeholders. We believe with the right tools, architects and building professionals can save lots time and money on the non-design and building tasks. We already work with 3D software all the time, but we are not taking advantage of it, like making it intuitive and accessible for everyone so that we can focus on what we do best. Creating interactive 3D presentations and utilizing Virtual Reality is key for communicating your vision clearly to clients. Read this 5-step process to take the first to learn how to create an interactive 3D presentation in Modelo. 

The 5 Best Examples of Wellness Architecture

The 5 Best Examples of Wellness Architecture

The wellness trend is very much alive right now, from kale smoothies to coffee served out of empty avocado halves (yes, that’s a thing). But what about wellness trends in architecture? Let’s be clear, wellness in architecture does not necessarily mean being LEED certified or having solar panels. Rather it could be the intuitive design of your neighborhood yoga studio or an inviting green space in a crowded city. Needless to say, architecture that connects with nature and seamlessly fits into the environment results in a truly sustainable future. Below are five examples of projects that demonstrate wellness architecture.

The Spheres building by NBBJ for Modelo Design Manifesto demonstrates wellness architecture with its botanical garden inside
The Spheres (Rendering courtesy of NBBJ)

  1. NBBJ’s Amazon Headquarters
    NBBJ’s Amazon Headquarters in Seattle, WA is a perfect balance between nature, its surrounding environment and contemporary design. The sphere building in particular is your average office building by day, but at night transforms into a humid, hot space that allows the plants inside to thrive. It’s functional yet beautiful and the ultimate demonstration of wellness architecture. The sphere is a good example of the power of 3D visualization and design processes. It was built in CAD software and transferred to physical steel pieces directly from the model. Plus, it’s the first building of its kind. Check out Modelo’s Design Manifesto with Dale Alberda, Principal at NBBJ and Design Leader of the Amazon Headquarters project.

Alai Development by Zaha Hadid Architects demonstrates wellness architecture by adapting to its natural surroundings
Alai Development (Image © MIR)

2. Alai Development in Mexico by Zaha Hadid Architects
The Alai residential community is compatible with nature and also seeks to minimize the effects on local ecosystems. This project also pays some homage to the Mayan culture, which can be seen in the design.

Inscape by Archi-Tectonics demonstrates wellness architecture with meditation spaces
Inscape (Photograph by Frederick Charles)

3. Inscape by Archi-Tectonics
Inscape is a meditation studio in Manhattan, New York. Although the practice of meditation has been around for centuries, it along with yoga has been getting the spotlight in the wellness industry. Therefore, a studio inspired by zen, intuition and focus undoubtedly deserves a spot on the list of 5 best examples of wellness architecture. Set in the middle of an urban area, Inscape is a transition into balance, healthy living and quietness that allows building users to truly enter a state of calmness. Read Winka Dubbeldam’s Design Manifesto here.

The Supertrees demonstrate wellness architecture in Singapore
Supertrees (Photograph courtesy of Grant Associates)

4. Supertrees in Singapore by Grant Associates
These Supertrees are not only solar-powered, but these 18 trees provide homes for over 200 species, 162,900 plants and cleaner air for the local area. It provides a green oasis in the middle of urban Singapore, balancing both the built environment and the natural environment. 

North Bay by PBW Architects demonstrates wellness architecture with a green roof full of plants
North Bay (Image courtesy of PBW Architects)

5. North Bay by PBW Architects
The fifth example of wellness architecture is this modern green home which was built on San Paulo Island in Washington State. The house was purposefully built within the trees to stay connected to nature, while preserving the clients’ privacy. In addition to natural surroundings, the house has an extremely green roof, giving life to plants and lots of color.

3 valuable connections between marketing and architecture | Modelo

3 valuable connections between marketing and architecture

by Meghan Barrett, Content Marketer at Modelo
I would argue that the best creativity comes when other disciplines work together and appreciate what the other has to offer. Seeing through another lens is optimal for growth and collaboration; as well as for enhancing the critical eye and opening up to a more philosophical point-of-view. I am a marketer who finds a few core commonalities between the two creative disciplines: architecture and marketing. Here’s what I learned from the wonderful experience of having friends who are designers:
1) To find balance and order in the details
Architects and marketers alike must focus on the details because they create the bigger picture. It doesn’t mean we overlook the bigger picture, just that we recognize and appreciate the parts that make up the whole. Details are balancing when they create a sense of order or establish a common ground. Details allow the bigger picture to come together so that we can then influence and show others our ideas. Color psychology is fascinating. Color has many different meanings for different people, cultures, or generations. It has the power to play on our emotions, making it a valuable tool for both professions. Keeping a neutral color scheme, for instance, can be beneficial when communicating a particular message to the target audience or to potential clients. Therefore, neutrals can be perceived as sophisticated, universal, and minimal. Also, my designer friends’ wardrobes made me appreciate the color black just a little bit more!
2) To learn from the past, live in the present, and create a better future
Both disciplines focus on learning from what either worked or didn’t work in the past and living in the present moment is key in order to create a better future for society. By living in the present, we are connected to what is around us at all times and are conscious of what we want to accomplish in our professions. Architecture is a slow process, but it ultimately is one of the most influential industries because of its power to impact peoples’ emotions, perceptions, and lives. In marketing it’s important to understand the consumers’ perceptions and values, and match those with your organization’s values. It’s about connecting on a deeper level and being aware of the messages you’re sending to others to hopefully get them to agree and support you. Being conscious of space, time, and people is crucial. Staying up-to-date with technology shows how the disciplines adapt and evolve with the times and the current tools in order to stay relevant. Think of the power of social media or 3d design software; these tools have radically changed the way we work, communicate, and create, thus impacting the professions entirely.
3) To appreciate the environment around us
The built environment has a lot to do with architecture for obvious reasons, but it relates to marketing as well. Say you’re a new retail company establishing new stores. This is the first point of contact you make with your potential customers. The architecture of this new space leaves a lasting first impression on consumers; reiterating the point that architecture allows people to form a deeper connection with the built environment around them, whether it is conscious or not. Not only does this idea relate to retail stores, but also to educational institutions, businesses, healthcare facilities, or even residential buildings. The way people view a building trickles all the way down the ladder to the fundamentals of marketing, which is the organization’s image. The image exists purely in the minds of consumers or stakeholders, so creating an environment that people want to be in, appreciate, and feel good about is ideal.Most importantly, bringing together a designer’s point of view and mixing it with a marketer’s point of view has the potential for optimum creativity and discovery. This multi-dimensional approach allows both industries to understand people, places, products, buildings, and space with a clear message. Ultimately, it’s about focusing on the process and not the end result. Developing over time and adapting to the current environment in order to stay relevant to the changing times and generations is necessary. These 3 valuable connections that I made from every day discussions with my designer friends show how architecture has the power to blend and mesh with other disciplines; impacting the future of architecture and marketing as a whole to be more balanced, conscious, and appreciative of the past, present, and future. I believe it’s important to keep an open mind and view possibilities from different perspectives in order to truly understand what people and society as a whole values, needs, and aspires for the future.

As Wayne Dyer said, “if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”