AEC Hackathon 1_1Would it surprise you to hear that the architects, engineers, and construction companies that build the world’s most amazing buildings can be luddites when it comes to using new tech?

Whether it’s using tech to solve problems, manage systems, create new possibilities, the AEC industry is famously conservative and tech averse. We’re in the middle of the most amazing period of human innovation, and much of how buildings get designed and built is the same as it was decades ago.  Why is this? There are a number of reasons; a legal environment where no large building is ever built without a lawsuit, bottom lines that do not have room to embrace new, unproven technology, a mindset of those leading AEC of ‘if I do not understand it, it cannot be good.’ Operational processes that still rely on paper. Yes, paper.

Many of us who live in the world of weekend hack-a-thons, building companies and products overnight, understanding the power of emerging tech and cloud collaboration are looking at the AEC industry and asking not only ‘Why has it not changed’?  But ‘Why not change it?’ A group of us that straddle the tech and AEC worlds got together to do just that. After years of seeing good ideas die, seeing projects run over budget and over time, we thought it was high time the AEC industry got hacked.

building inspection status AEC hackathonIn November of 2013 we pulled together over 100 tech and AEC pioneers for the first AEC Hackathon. It was a fantastic success, and we’re doing it again on March 14-16thAEC Hackathon 1.1! And what we saw last fall will be nothing compared to what’s coming.

The idea is to bring the intellectual vitality and ‘of course it can be done’ philosophy of the valley to the sober, mission-critical sensibility of the AEC industry, to solve problems, develop innovative solutions, both in hardware and software, and most of all, to bring the two worldviews together.

Our goal is simple: to change the way the builders build, designers design and managers manage our buildings, our cities, our world. Starting with simple problems, we’ve developed new insights, new solutions, and this March, we’re going to do it again.

Instead of committees and working groups, we structured this as a traditional hack, with teams competing for the best solutions to problems that matter to the AEC industry.  If we cannot convince the leaders of the industry to change, we will change it ourselves by example.

So who should attend?  Anyone who is looking to change what they already know is deficiency in the AEC industry, enterprise looking to find new opportunities and coders who are looking to apply their craft to a new problem landscape.

It’s time to build.

4 comments on “Hacking AEC is hard, that is why we need to do it

  • I encourage these efforts because they can be a good learning tool, but the real difficulty with a tired AEC industry, from architects to builders, is the refusal to embrace progress. Part of their reluctance is the fee structure. Architects “billable hours” is already impaired by new technology. I’m working with a group in Austin, TX that has created a new system that produces CDs in just a few weeks. Compare that to Architectural firms that continue to require a years worth of billable hours to deliver CDs.

    The second issue is builders holding onto the past and continuing to sell their services based on “talent,” (read Resume) and not technology. When the industry changes to a production model, like all other industries, the actual cost becomes more readily available to owners.

    Productivity in the AEC industry will continue to decline until OWNERS demand change. The good news is that’s beginning to happen. The organizations that change the building delivery model will succeed in retiring the many dinosaurs that are too afraid to take any risk. The sooner, the better.

      • The same technology used by the automotive industry 30 years ago (today’s Revit) enables the design of a building in just days if it is attached to a building system (something Architects have ignored). The 3-6 month period of “design development” and then another 3-6 months for CDs is over. This is a challenging new reality for Architects because their practice is based on “billable hours” that are no longer necessary or even legitimate.

        We are currently producing CDs for hotel and high-rise residential projects in just a few weeks time. The length of time required is based on the time for owners/developers to make decisions. This new business model is slowly being embraced by owners and it will dramatically change the delivery cost and timetable, without compromising design. It isn’t about prototypes or modular construction, it’s about a new production system that replaces traditional design and construction.

        It will be disruptive and it is long overdue.

        Email me for additional info:

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