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Dealing with Construction Uncertainty – sg2013 London

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

The Smartgeometry 2013 (sg2013) Conference, hosted by Bentley Systems, held in London at the Bartlett UCL Faculty for the Built Environment, assembled some of the most forward thinkers in the area of architecture today.

On Friday the venue is called “Talkshop” where a number of panelists present on various topics. Some of the highlights from those sessions are as follows:


Smartgeometry 2013 London kicks off

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

This year’s Smartgeometry event (sg2013) was held at the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment UCL and the Institute of Education in London from April 15-20. The event began with a description of how the group began and how the Bartlett School architects were the inspiration for this year’s conference.

I was in London for a few days before the beginning of the conference and was impressed by the amount of construction there. The question that came to my mind was – how do they create structures that can complement the vast and rich history of this old city? There are many skyscrapers that are interspersed with historic buildings, some of which may be finding an unusual peace with the existing infrastructure.

There is a peer review process of choosing the teams who will present at sg each year.  Out of 200 applications, there are 10 workshops comprised of ten people in each who will be the lucky ones chosen to present.

This is the first year an sg event has been held in London. According to Shane Burger, this year’s program entitled “Constructing for Uncertainty” builds upon what has been accomplished in past years. This year’s teams are using data in design, working with the environment, are much more information-centric, recognizing that there are “only a subset of relevant factors that can be modeled in a traditional design CAD package.” The built environment must last for generations.

Topics such as how we explore efficiency, environmental or program changes, and bridging the gap between digitally fabricated calibration and construction tolerance and the “uncertain future of occupant behavior” were part of the day’s discussion.

Huw Roberts, director of Core Marketing at Bentley, spoke briefly about Bentley’s Applied Reseach group which has a $112 million of investment done in partnership with their software companies and users. “Our “syndicated development’ takes something the user wants to do, defines what the software needs to be and Bentley will test it,” said Roberts. “This relationship model is a direct descendant of how our relationship model was for sg. GenerativeComponents was the first child of our research activities. We’re now integrating that with our optimization engines, like Darwin Optmization Framework. It was previously in our water products, used to tell where pipes are going to leak based on the data system. The framework is a very complex bunch of math that allows a bunch of iterative processes to run.”

Augmented reality allows us to  see what is under streets, in pipes, or show sections of inside the walls, looking at the construction model and seeing where pipes and conduits are inside walls, using iPads and other mobile devices.

Because the work done in the Smartgeometry clusters appears to be a far cry from real world applications of technology, several examples were given of projects completed using GenerativeComponents and other tools used for iterative design.


sg2013 will be held in London next week

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

sg2013 “Constructing for Uncertainty” will be at The Bartlett / UCL, London, UK from 15-20 April 2013. The Workshop and Conference, hosted in part by Bentley Systems, is an unusual gathering  of innovators and pioneers committed to finding new approaches in the fields of architecture, design and engineering.

The description of the conference is: “Constructing for Uncertainty will transition computational design from the hard space of the ideal to the soft reality of an uncertain built environment,” according to published literature. In years past, research has taken the participants into the realms of materials science, 3D printing and many other groundbreaking technologies in an exploration of what might be the tools to build future structures.


Bentley Systems revenues hit $550 million

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Greg Bentley, CEO of Bentley Systems, last week gave an overview of the company’s financial position as a private company. The company’s focus is infrastructure, meaning “everything people build to improve our planet,” according to Mr. Bentley.

Bentley is a “no drama company” when it comes to reporting, said Mr. Bentley. In their 30th year, he said that historical GAP revenues are $550 million. These GAP revenues grew 8% percent in constant currencies, and organic growth grew by 6%.

“Since the majority of revenues are from annual subscription, 75% of our revenues from subscriptions, up from 72% in 2011, and that’s from ongoing relationships, not ‘customers,’” said Mr. Bentley.


Bentley cites important market trends for 2013

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Huw Roberts, Bentley Systems vice president, core marketing, shared some predictions on important market trends for 2013:

There is a focus in construction on integrated projects, so my top-level prediction for the year is that the characteristic of projects and project teams will continue to become increasingly integrated. Infrastructure owners have been looking to integrate project delivery types for a number of years. There are many models, including IPD in the U.S., design-build-operate, joint ventures, and project alliancing. It’s really not important which model becomes the frontrunner; what matters is that the trend toward finding ways to integrate project teams and processes, and of eliminating silos of activity that only act sequentially, will continue to become the dominant way of delivering projects.

This is already creating some needs in the market and shaping what happens this year. To begin with, there is growing demand for information modeling for all aspects of infrastructure projects – for building design, site design, utilities, fabrication, construction, and so on – and this is fast becoming the norm. Information modeling deliverables are what owners want to receive and what designers and contractors want to produce. Design firms and construction firms see value in this approach and that perception is going to grow and accelerate demand for it.

This change in attitude is being driven by the realization that the best solution is not a “one size fits all.” What information modeling means to a building design team is different from what it means to the folks working on the roads and developing the land around that building, and also very different from what it means to the construction crews and the teams that will eventually be charged with operating and maintaining that building. So there’s a growing awareness in the market of the need for those different information modeling approaches to work together, and support for an iterative process is taking hold. Many project organizations and enterprises recognize that they have different tools, processes, and skillsets that have to work together in order to achieve an information modeling approach that serves their own purposes.

Here’s a case in point. A few years ago everyone was excited about the fact that architects and engineers were moving to smarter 3D models, and then that constructors were moving to 3D. Today, owners are soliciting projects that require the delivery team to not only design but also build and operate the building. These delivery teams quickly recognize the need to integrate multiple information modeling approaches to serve their various needs across the infrastructure lifecycle. And all of this awareness is driving growth at project and enterprise scales.

Some firms are working to apply various technologies in new areas, and many struggle by trying to “mash” information or processes into a tool or technology that’s not suited for their workflows or purpose. Increasingly, they are beginning to realize that multiple technologies need to be involved on every project. Why? Because some information is best suited to be in a CAD system, while other information can be better processed and managed in a BIM system, database system, operational control system, discipline-specific analysis system, machine control system, and so on. Anyone familiar with real-world projects knows that it makes no sense to put everything into a single system.


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