The New World of Virtual Reality in Construction

Virtual building design is making a dramatic impact on the construction industry.

Virtual building design is making a dramatic impact on the construction industry.

Okay.  You are an architect in Hong Kong, and you’re working with a construction company in San Francisco. You can both “look around” a computerized 3D model of your building (this is not new technology) but now you can also actually feel what it’s like to be right inside the structure by wearing virtual reality (VR) headsets, getting a 360-degree view. And, by wearing the same headsets, you can do this together and make real time changes even if you’re on opposite sides of the world.

Welcome to the world of virtual building design – a big leap for the construction industry, which has traditionally been more interested in bricks than clicks.

Building information modeling (BIM) – or developing a 3D digital prototype of a project – has been trending.  Using 3D gaming technology and cloud-based software, industry leaders are now bringing together building design environments and workflows into a single, navigable view. Users navigate these virtual designs almost like a video game.

The opportunity for reducing errors, keeping tabs on and tracking large complex projects while also saving money (30% of a project’s total budget is usually spent correcting errors not visible in the design stage) are the obvious benefits of this VR computer-aided design. It’s definitely disruptive technology, and it’s spawning new, streamlined building design practices that will change the nature of construction forever.


Enduring Architectural Wonders of the World

Erechtheum is just outside of the Parthenon in Greece;  an amazing work of art and architecture.

Erechtheum is just outside of the Parthenon in Greece; an amazing work of art and architecture.

It may be a new year (and here’s to it!) but some things don’t change and have endured the test of time. There is something exotic about ancient architecture that has survived war, famine, disease and other disasters (man made and otherwise). The buildings featured in the following article continue to leave a mark on the world.  Some will be familiar: Petra, Machu Picchu, the Taj Majal and Angkor Wat. Others you may not know: the Paijah Tombs in Hyderabad; Siwa, Qesm Siwah in Egypt’s Great Sand Sea. All of them will make you feel young!


The Best Architecture & Design Books of 2016

modern_arch_a_z_hc_bu_gb_3d_45450_1608081801_id_1070831 copy

There is still time for a last-minute holiday gift purchase, but most importantly, we thought it would be fun and informative to review what our editors and other literary pundits felt were some of the best books on architecture and design as we look for inspiration in the new year.

Following are links to some of our favorites.

Modern Architecture A-Z compiled by the inimitable Taschen publishing empire, with more than 280 entries. An overview of the key players in the creation of modern space, spanning from the 19th to the 21st century. Pioneering architects are featured with a portrait, concise biography, as well as a description of their important work.

The Frankfurt Book Fair and Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM) have issued their list of the ten best architectural books published the past year.  The International DAM Book Awards were selected from 214 entries and 88 international publishers, based on criteria such as design content, quality of material and finishing, innovation, and topicality. The winning books feature projects from all over the world.

Building Chicago by John Zukowsky, an architectural and design historian, author, and former longtime curator of architecture at the Art Institute of Chicago explores one of America’s premier architectural design cities. The beautifully illustrated, 300-page architectural anthology chronicles masterpieces by a roster of greats including Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, Daniel Burnham and Mies van der Rohe.

An architecture buff’s dream road trip — Mid Century Architectural Travel Guide: West Coast USA by author Sam Lubell takes readers on an armchair road trip through the best homes, offices, schools, parks, and more in California, Oregon, and Washington.

And from the venerable Financial Times – a list of their favorite tomes.

Happy Holidays!


Real Estate Trends to Watch for in 2017

Real Estate Trends 2017[1]

PricewaterhouseCoopers and Urban Land Institute just released their annual Emerging Trends in Real Estate report for 2017. The report, based on interviews and surveys with industry experts, focused on three game-changers:

1). Limited housing inventory and the lack of affordable middle-class housing are top concerns for real estate professionals.

2) Labor shortages are inflating construction costs. The problem isn’t going away,  but vocational training and apprenticeships, as well as potential immigration reform may help ease the problem.

3) New technologies are having favorable effects, including innovations that make buildings smarter and more efficient, and augmented reality (AR) technologies that improve collaboration between builders, architects and developers during the construction process.


Preserving New York’s Historic Architecture

Architectural restoration underway at the Fleming Smith Warehouse in New York City. Photo: Joseph Polowczuk

Architectural restoration underway at the Fleming Smith Warehouse in New York City. Photo: Joseph Polowczuk

New York City is full of aging buildings that have suffered the vagaries of time, erosion and gravity. Many of these structures have historical significance and/or are on Landmarked or National Register sites which has spurred a flurry of architectural preservation, restoration and evaluation of historic architecture.

Preservation efforts — from restoration (a process that retains and repairs materials from the most significant time in a property’s history) to localized repairs, which might include improving water tightness around the building has become a booming business. The challenge of blending old and new architecture to ensure that the historic integrity of an old building is maintained has become an art form.


The Year’s Best Architectural Photographs

"Covered Reservoir" Finsbury Park, London by Matt Emmett/Arcaid Images

"Covered Reservoir" Finsbury Park, London by Matt Emmett/Arcaid Images

Twenty finalists for Archaid Images annual Architectural Photography Awards were exhibited at the World Architecture Festival in Berlin last week, and the winner was Matt Emmett for his interior of the East London Water Works Company in Finsbury Park. An esteemed panel of judges selected the best of show in four categories: Buildings in Use, Exteriors, Interiors and Sense of Place. While photographing buildings, interiors, or any built environment is no easy task, this competition demonstrates that it is also a true art form.

Archaid Images represents nearly 200 individual photographers in more than 30 countries and has accumulated one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of architecture, interiors and design images.  Sto Group was a sponsor of the awards program as well as the World Architecture Festival itself where architects and interior design professionals worldwide come together to share knowledge and inspiration. All of the photography finalists will be featured in a 2017 show at Sto Werkstatt in London.


FAA Eases Drone Regulations for Construction Use

New rules better enable the use of drones in construction to save time and money

New rules better enable the use of drones in construction to save time and money

We have been reading a lot about how drones — also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles  (UAVs) – are being adopted by the construction industry to save time and money. Mapping a construction site with a drone can be done in minutes, whereas it could take a team six weeks to map the same site; drones with imaging technologies can produce detailed images, vastly improving efficiency and accuracy.

And now, the FAA has streamlined the licensing, rules and regulations for the use of commercial drones, further reducing the barrier to entry in this emerging field.  Exemptions to operate are no longer required nor is the previous petition process, and commercial drone operators no longer need a commercial pilot’s license to fly their eye in the sky.

The FAA’s new rules open up the industry to drone flights for surveying, project management and analysis, safety monitoring and inspection, and even materials transfer. With the regulation of this new industry continually evolving, the FAA now predicts that there will be more than 7 million drones of all types flying by 2020, indicating that “the sky’s the limit”!