Architecture is one of many industries under dramatic transformation as a result of modern technological advancements. Vladi Gorelik, a renowned architect from Houston, Texas, discusses how the latest industry technology is changing the face of commercial construction.
Computer-Aided Design (CAD)
While past architects had to rely on hand sketches, architects today are able to create and design using hyper-precision software. Computer-aided design, or CAD, is not just a platform for architects either. Engineers and computer hardwire specialists also use CAD software to increase their design productivity.
Architects benefit greatly from CAD’s accuracy and recordkeeping. The software can uncover design glitches and update blueprints for all key personnel involved in the development and construction of a project.
Visualization technology, also known as architectural rendering, creates incredibly lifelike digital models to show clients what their project will look like once it has been completed.
Currently, rendering tools can display digital models in both 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional format. Vladi Gorelik explains that this technology aids in identifying design issues, as well as improving collaborative relationships with clients.
Building Information Model (BIM)
Not to be confused with the “business information model,” a building information model (BIM) is a data warehouse for storing and sharing all information associated with a construction design.
Architects can upload and edit models. CAD software can sync with the BIM to include all building materials, structural measurements, and any project milestones. Contractors can access details relevant to their crew, and project managers can track milestones.
The result is greater accountability to verified data and fewer change orders mid-construction.
Failing to observe any detail of building design can result in critical quality assurance issues. Some models are so precise that designers took into account environmental concerns and the integrity of parts made from a particular manufacturer.
Thanks to digital records – and the added benefits of CAD, BIM, and architectural rendering – all personnel involved in the design and construction of a major construction project can lean upon immutable data.
Before the age of modern data storage, architects had to create and manage massive files for each client. Hard copies could get lost, misplaced, or damaged. Clearing out an entire office to make room for file cabinets increased overhead costs for architectural firms. In the 21st Century, this is no longer necessary.
Digital recordkeeping has also helped designers and builders remain compliant at every stage of the construction project.
Where Architecture is Going
As impressive as today’s architectural technologies have become, Vladi Gorelik believes that more great advancements are yet to come. From virtual reality to environmental sustainability, construction design, remodeling, and restoration could look very different over the next few decades.
Vladi Gorelik notes that some of this technology already exists, but implementation is limited due to current high costs and beta testing.
Immersive technology – or virtual reality – take visualization to the next level. Imagine being able to walk into a building that hasn’t yet been constructed.
As immersive technology advances, clients no longer have to use their imagination to validate a scaled model. Instead, they can tour a design at full scale and observe incredible design detail from where they sit. With relatively inexpensive headgear, architects can send clients the full design and await their feedback.
With smart homes already are a reality and smart cars just above the horizon, the next 20 years will usher in a new kind of smart community. The IoT (Internet of Things) will begin to integrate with more construction design on an infrastructural level.
And in the same way that a homeowner might benefit from a neighbor’s sprinkler system watering the edges into his own yard, smart technology will begin to overlap with nearby smart technology. The result may be that we see architectural design integrating with an entirely new kind of metropolitan design.
Additionally, project resourcing is likely to grow more efficient and environmentally responsible. The development of smart cities could lower costs for all residents while simultaneously improving everyone’s quality of life.
While the actual process of commercial construction has yet to catch up, the parametric design turns architectural planning into more like graphic design. Architects can apply minor adjustments to design and depend upon the parametric software to make automatic adjustments and maintain the integrity of the overall design.
Parametric technology depends greatly on software programming, as the design exists and responds based upon computer coding. Some experts believe that architecture may become its own programming language once construction technology grows more advanced and flexible.
In order for the parametric design to reach its full potential, experts await the entry of robotics to the world of construction. 3D printers have already manufactured consumer products, product parts, and human organs. Using 3D printers to build an entire structure is certainly on the mind of many engineers and architects.
And while construction companies grow concerned about their industry being overrun by robotics, 3D printing engineers worry that they may not be able to supply a robotics construction endeavor with a large enough, specially-trained technician workforce. Vladi Gorelik concludes that the future remains to be seen.