Architectural Research Labs – In the Near Future?

Paul Seletsky, the Digital Design Director at Kieran Timberlake, recently posted some intriguing thoughts about the need for the AEC industry to make the R&D aspect of our profession more prominent. With the advent of popular community shops such as MIT’s FabLab (Boston’s lab is in the South End for anyone interested), the notion doesn’t seem too far-fetched. His case for such AR Lab checkpoints are worth a read. Here’s a snippet below concerning why  he believes AR Labs are necessary and be sure to read on at AECbytes blog:

  • Architects’ project deliverables and instruments of service must reflect a new digital age.As the music, movie, and newspaper industries have discovered, publishing and distribution of traditional media has been radically altered. Architects are story-tellers who strive to maintain their content and intent exactly as written. Contract documents must be transformed from static entities on paper (or computers) to interactive, dynamic records on iPads to keep ideas intact. Steve Jobs showed the way. Will architects now be prepared to publish or perish?Architects need to control their own destiny by learning how to program software. Practitioners must be able to create open, interchangeable software tools as they see fit, to guide rather than follow commercial software developers. These tools must be unaffiliated with any one specific software developer and allow for true dynamic data interpretation (DDI)—the free flow of performative information independent of any associated software’s design geometry.
  • Practitioners need a central library of certified building knowledge and software utilities.  An online, non-denominational (Wikipedia-type) library of building products, components and assembly methods would present practitioners and the public with codified design knowledge. Manufacturers could upload BIMs of their products, certain they would work in any software program (by enlisting an open “cooperative” approach among software developers) and contain all authorized performance and visual criteria. [One possible avenue for this idea is the National Institute of Building Science’s Whole Building Design Guide, but in a more interactive and editable version than currently exists].
  • Architects and their clients need better methods to experience the Work before it is built.Immersive display rooms (widely used in automotive and aerospace engineering but too costly for architects) would enable everyone to investigate design concepts and experience spaces to validate lighting conditions, views, and occupant comfort. Contractors could be guided through complex assemblies or innovative installations. These spaces could also be rented to hold “immersive” teleconferences, where meeting minutes could be digitally recorded and transcribed.
  • Robotic construction, digital urban design and mapping, and material analyses are needed. Multimedia surfaces and conductive materials, demographic and climate data embedded into BIMs all lead to better informed decisions. Tying physical and virtual performance environments together will simply allow us to “see” building designs in ways we have never seen them before.

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