Borealis Ventures speculates the future role of prefabrication in construction

In Constructuring: An Unstoppable Trend, a white paper by Borealis Ventures’ Ian Howell, speculates as to which practices holdback the construction industry’s ability to build housing on-time and within budget. Citing a McKinsey & Company study which found that “large projects across asset classes typically take 20 percent longer to finish than scheduled and are

Startups are riding the tech wave to build the future of the AEC industry

There’s a perfect storm brewing in the AEC industry with respect to technology, and startup tech companies are stoked because the waves are finally rolling in. A number of factors are contributing to the sudden surge. An increasingly urban population along with a changing climate is placing unprecedented pressure on the built environment, according to

Elon Musk wants to turn the Hyperloop’s “excavated muck” into housing materials

Hot off of a flamethrower fundraising sale for Elon Musk’s side project, the Hyperloop tunnel digging The Boring Company, Musk has announced that the muck, rock, and detritus produced by the company’s tunneling would be turned into usable bricks. The first announcement from Musk came on March 26, when he tweeted that the rock mined from the company’s California test tunnels would be

Autodesk puts R&D first with its BUILD Space in Boston

Meet the incubators and accelerators producing the new guard of design and architecture start-ups. This is part of a series profiling incubators and accelerators from our April 2018 Technology issue.  Located on the first two floors of a concrete-framed former army base in South Boston, Autodesk’s BUILD Space (BUILD stands for building, innovation, learning, and design), which opened in

Brooklyn’s New Lab goes big with a tech hub for urban entrepreneurs

Meet the incubators and accelerators producing the new guard of design and architecture start-ups. This is part of a series profiling incubators and accelerators from our April 2018 Technology issue.  Located in a former shipbuilding space at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, New Lab is an 84,000-square-foot collaborative tech hub dedicated to entrepreneurs working on scalable technologies and products. New Lab supports companies in nine

Artist Mel Chin will take over Times Square with AR nautical ruins

Artist Mel Chin is bringing two new installations to Times Square’s Broadway plazas this summer. Wake and Unmoored are part of Mel Chin: All Over the Place, a multi-location exhibition produced by the Queens Museum and the public art nonprofit No Longer Empty. Other locations involved with the citywide exhibition are the Queens Museum and the Broadway–Lafayette/Bleeker Street subway station, which is hosting a May

Swiss researchers use robots to build complex timber structures

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland, are giving timber construction a mechanical leg up with the introduction of prefabricated, robotically-assembled timber frame housing. Together with Erne AG Holzbau, a contracting firm that specializes in timber, researchers at the institute’s Chair of Architecture and Digital Fabrication have developed Spatial Timber Assemblies, a system for digitally fabricating and constructing

Immersive technology may be architecture’s best tool for communication

This year’s Tech+ conference—an upcoming and groundbreaking event showcasing technological innovators in the AEC industry taking place on May 22 in New York City—will feature pioneering speakers that are rethinking existing technological paradigms. Among them is Iffat Mai, practice application development leader for Perkins + Will, who will be co-presenting a discussion about enhanced realities and immersive experiences. As

Electric scooter companies receive cease-and-desist letter from City of San Francisco

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera has filed a cease-and-desist order targeting the privately-operated dockless scooters that have seemingly taken over downtown San Francisco streets in recent weeks.  In a letter sent to the three dockless scooter companies currently operating in the city, Herrera decried the upstarts for “continu(ing) to operate an unpermitted motorized scooter rental

Solar panels get a much-needed design makeover

Let’s face it: no one has ever characterized a solar panel as being particularly attractive. In fact, they’re eyesores. While the environmental and business cases for photovoltaics are relatively easy to make, their aesthetic dimension has long been a losing proposition. “In states like California, solar is half the price of the local utility, even

For L.A.-based start-ups, a downtown tech incubator offers a boost up

Meet the incubators and accelerators producing the new guard of design and architecture start-ups. This is part of a series profiling incubators and accelerators from our April 2018 Technology issue.  At the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), participating members get a lot of bang for their buck. Originally started in 2011, the outfit moved in 2016 into a 60,000-square-foot

Katerra’s approach could make factory construction a model for the future

Some of the most fruitful innovation in the AEC industry right now lies in the realm of factory-built buildings. Whether they include experiments with prefabrication, mass-timber construction, or modular components, architects are increasingly working with building assemblies that are fabricated off-site and under controlled conditions. And while some designers work in these modes on a

Talking about Tech Futures with the Digital Building Lab

When examining technology transforming the AEC industry, Dennis Shelden emerges as a thought leader. He is an expert in applying digital technology to building design, construction, and operations, with experience spanning across research, technology, and development, and professional practice, including multiple architecture, building engineering and computing disciplines. He was director of R&D and led the

R/GA stays ahead of the curve with its global accelerator network

Meet the incubators and accelerators producing the new guard of design and architecture start-ups. This is part of a series profiling incubators and accelerators from our April 2018 Technology issue. With a cutting-edge client list that includes Nike, Google, and YouTube, digital agency R/GA is committed to staying way, way ahead of the competition. So,

Elon Musk to bypass environmental review for test tunnel in L.A.

Billionaire Elon Musk and his Boring Company are moving forward with plans to build an underground network of personal vehicle tunnels below the streets of Los Angeles. After drilling a preliminary tunnel below the Tesla and SpaceX company headquarters in nearby Hawthorne, California, the company is now moving forward with an additional 2.7-mile “proof-of-concept” tunnel

URBAN-X accelerator wants to transform cities, one semester at a time

Meet the incubators and accelerators producing the new guard of design and architecture start-ups. This is part of a series profiling incubators and accelerators from our April 2018 Technology issue. The age of the car as we know it appears to be winding down—that is, if the diverse initiatives started by car companies is any

The next step in renewable energy is right under our feet

The New York Times journalist Thomas Friedman once asked, “Do you know what my favorite renewable fuel is? An ecosystem for innovation.” If you pose the same question to Pavegen founder and CEO Laurence Kemball-Cook, his answer would most likely be: foot traffic. That’s because Kemball-Cook, who is passionate about climate change, believes “technology alone

Cove.tool helps architects green their buildings in a user-friendly format

Cove.tool is an energy vs. cost optimization software for the AEC industry. It offers users the ability to simulate the material performance of a building in its context by assessing energy against cost over a given period of time. It empowers architects, engineers, contractors, and owners to make better decisions about building by presenting cost

Katerra promises to transform the construction industry without sacrificing design

“Every building shouldn’t be a one-off prototype.” That’s an underlying and provocative premise behind Katerra, a technology company that’s on a mission to optimize the way buildings are developed, designed, and constructed. Truth be told, the industry is primed for an overhaul. Construction companies traditionally invest less than 1 percent of revenue in new technologies—lower

The future of smart power could lie in a single solar, storage and communications platform

In a 2016 broadcast of NPR’s Fresh Air, author and cultural anthropologist Gretchen Bakke characterized America’s energy grid as “increasingly unstable, underfunded, and incapable of taking us to a new energy future.” Nevertheless, the steady march toward progress continues, and the threat of obsolescence is driving many cities, urban planners, developers, and businesses to invest in the

Digital sketching app makes it easy to create perspective drawings

For years, leaders of architectural firms have bemoaned the lack of hand drawing skills among recent graduates and young professionals entering the practice. With a tendency to bypass hand drawing and rely primarily on computer-aided design software and BIM, it seemed for a time as though hand sketching was a dying art among architectural apprentices. To that point,

UNStudio launches a tech startup to “revolutionize” architectural technology

Self-described “open-source architecture studio” UNStudio is spinning off the tech startup UNSense, which will focus on collecting data from buildings to ultimately improve how people occupy them. UNStudio co-founder and Dutch architect Ben van Berkel has called the move integral to incorporating technology with architecture, and the first step in future-proofing potential new projects. UNStudio is no stranger to futuristic concepts

Elon Musk does a 180 on mass transit and makes Hyperloop buses his first priority

The Boring Company, Elon Musk’s Hyperloop tunnel-digging side company, may have a new mission after Musk claimed that he would be shifting towards expanding mass transit. Although research into digging a traffic-bypassing “urban loop” under Los Angeles will continue, Musk tweeted that instead of moving cars and personal pods, the Hyperloop network would focus on moving 150-mile-per-hour buses before anything

Can this affordable 3-D printed house address the world’s housing shortage?

At this year’s South by Southwest Festival (SXSW), Austin-based startup ICON unveiled the first residential permitted 3-D-printed house in the United States. ICON is partnered with the non-profit New Story, which has constructed homes for thousands of displaced residents across Haiti, El Salvador, and Bolivia. The young firm views their technology as an practical tool to address the sheltering needs of the

A modular apartment factory is set to touch down in Chicago

Chicago-based general contractors Skender are getting into the modular manufacturing game, with an announcement that they will be building a factory on Chicago’s southwest side that can crank out hotel rooms and entire apartments. Skender is going all in on the new factory and modular fabrication startup, which they claim will put 100 people to work (an impressive number,

Winners of MTA’s first genius award announced

The winners of the MTA’s Transit Genius Challenge, which was first announced last spring, have been selected. The award, which set aside $3 million to be split among winners in three categories, is part of the city’s plan to modernize the aging subway system, which has been experiencing ever increasing delays and other issues affecting its

AN rounds up our favorite tech books of 2018

Art and architecture have always been inexorably intertwined, as new innovations in materials and construction allow buildings to rise higher and branch out into experimental new forms. But after concrete, high-rise timber, and advances in digital design, how will the field continue to progress? What new technologies and typologies will arise in the future, and

Through its midtown hub, Georgia Tech is priming Atlanta for an influx of technology jobs

Since the earliest days of the technology industry, home has been Silicon Valley. However, there are some signs the tide is turning and heading towards the east. Attempting to capitalize on an impending Atlanta tech boom is The Georgia Institute of Technology, which is due to move into Coda, a mixed-use development in Midtown Atlanta’s Tech Square, in