I recently attended the FACADES CONFERENCE 2012 in New York City, an event that focused on facade design with an emphasis on metal utilization in construction. There was some really fascinating content presented, but what most struck me in the day’s proceedings was how complex and striking the designs shown were. They truly showcased the extent of the capabilities of some of today’s BIM technologies and the astounding abilities of some of the technology users out there.
For example, a presentation about the Barclays Center in NYC demonstrated how design technology can be utilized to manage more than 12,000 unique panel types. The design team was able use the same software to for both the design and fabrication of these panels, leveraging the technologies to automate the process of taking the design model and creating the fabrication shop drawings. And to take it a step further, each panel was modeled with a tracking tag so that the team could view the of progress of any panel on the project via a custom iPad app. This just goes to show how much technology has been able to blur the lines between various stages of a typical project and push the boundaries of a model’s applicable uses.
Another interesting example is a week-long design challenge undertaken by Thornton Tomasetti. This charette utilized software to automate and script different schemes and layouts for an environmental analysis. The resulting solutions were some astounding automations for coordination involving scripted structural and membrane models, essentially making a once tedious analytical process nearly instantaneous.
I hate to single out just two presentations because there were many more great examples like this that demonstrated truly forward-thinking uses of today’s design technologies.
I was thoroughly impressed by how many firms are utilizing the tools, oftentimes modifying or customizing them to work with other tools in order to create amazing solutions that saving time and improve design accuracy. I to love see people take a tool and rework to make it do what they need, not just settling with the way it comes out of the box.
For more write-ups on the event check out the Architects Newspaper blog, which recaps the content in detail. The more events like this that showcase successful workflows for creating truly innovative designs, and in effect, perpetuate the promise of BIM, the better.