How VDC Is Like "The Lego Movie"

As the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry uses building information modeling (BIM) to move towards a digital workflow, it's important to recognize that other industries also use digital workflows. One example of this is especially relevant to our work – the production of The Lego Movie!

The Lego Movie was a 2014 full-length film produced by Warner Bros. Animation with the entire film environment comprised of Lego blocks (and maybe one lollipop stick). The film succeeded in one important objective: It was nearly impossible to tell whether the movie used real Lego blocks in the filming or some digital effects. In reality, the entire film used digital workflows, which allows us to make a direct comparison to the AEC industry's work in virtual design and construction (VDC) and BIM. Following are three ways The Lego Movie is like the AEC industry's VDC processes.

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How We Work: The Challenge of Virtual Reality in AEC

There is a looming challenge for the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry as we get excited about virtual reality (VR).  The challenge is that we lack tools that can be used in VR environments.  AEC folks like tools – think hammers, backhoes, tower cranes – but our current ways of doing our work don't yet fit with the VR platforms being created.

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Innovation in AEC & "the Macomber Line"

We're going to be bold and coin a new term: "the Macomber Line." The Macomber Line is a combination of concepts that we believe are very important to innovation in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) space.

This term is in reference to an individual who is both an industry veteran and and an insightful visionary. John Macomber is a lecturer at both Harvard University and MIT, an investor in construction software, a former general contractor, and a real estate developer. Macomber wrote a paper (requires purchase) that we often cite in our conversations around innovation because it describes how construction economics directly impact innovation.

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Innovation in AEC & the Gartner Hype Cycle

For many years, we've been referencing the Gartner Hype Cycle to describe innovation in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry. We primarily use the Hype Cycle to demonstrate that innovation in AEC is difficult and that it takes time to develop strategies that overcome the limitations of technology. We thought we'd share additional insight into the Hype Cycle and how it relates to AEC. Here are three such insights: 

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The Augmented Age of AEC & Smart Cars

A team from Ford conducted an amazing test this past week that speaks to the coming augmented age in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry. Using Lidar, a car was able to autonomously drive in complete darkness without headlights. It has been possible to drive in complete darkness using technology like night vision goggles for many years, and autonomous driving is rapidly becoming more feasible. Yet combining both of these in one test entered a new realm because it went beyond the capabilities of a human driver.

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The Missing Discussion in Construction Labor Productivity

The historical trend of labor productivity is oft-referenced in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry. In a nutshell, construction productivity over the last 50 years has been nearly flat while all other similar industries have had robust gains. Stanford University’s Dr. Paul Teicholz has a detailed analysis of this trend. Construction Industry Resources, LLC has a similar viewpoint, and the consulting company McKinsey adds their take. But there's one discussion that we think is important to note because it is an integral part of our industry and deserves more discussion.

We're adding tech to the AEC industry that improves workflow productivity, but where are the overall productivity gains?

As an industry, we need to discuss this problem so that we're adding technology in ways that realize value for our stakeholders. Consider the technology we've added to the AEC industry over the last 50 years:

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WeWork: The Only AEC Unicorn

WeWork is a company that provides co-working office spaces, along with HR, community events, and a network that mimic a more traditional work environment. WeWork is a fascinating company, and the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry has a lot to learn from its approach to the design and operations of co-working office spaces. There's a growing trend that describes "buildings as products," and WeWork is at the forefront of that effort. As proof of both its penetration into the market and its potential, WeWork, valued at over $16 billion, is the only AEC tech startup that qualifies as a unicorn. Below are three characteristics of WeWork that we think are important to understand:

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Why 'V' Doesn't Stand for 'Vomit'

Virtual reality (VR) is a frequent topic of discussion in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry. A recent article from asks whether the "V" in VR stands for "vomit," due to the tendency of some VR programs to induce nausea. Based on our experiences, the nauseating effects of VR are overstated, at least in relation to its applications in AEC.

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Why Dynamo by Autodesk Is Important for AEC

We recently integrated our work into Dynamo and we want to tell you why this is important. On the surface, you may think Dynamo is just a visual scripting language that simplifies API programming for the Revit platform. We're here to tell you why it's so much more than that.


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Why Venture Capital Will Revolutionize Construction

It is nearly impossible to talk about technology without talking about venture capital (VC). For the past several decades, venture capital has been nearly synonymous with tech financing, particularly for startups. Now that the tech sector has crossed over into the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) space, we think VC is on course to revolutionize the industry. Following are the top four reasons VC will have a huge impact on AEC.

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Will Amazon Disrupt the AEC Industry?

The adoption of supply chain management within the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry is most clearly defined by lean methodologies. Lean concepts eliminate waste, focus on value, and are most often associated with the manufacturing industry. Toyota in particular is often cited in reference to lean practices, as the company is largely credited with creating 5S Methodology. However, when it comes to supply chain management, there's likely a better example to follow. Let's consider how Amazon disrupted the retail industry and what it would take to apply that thinking to AEC.

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