Build Boston 2007
by Evan Shu
Fundamental changes in the nature of architectural practice and building construction are taking place today. Those changes were clearly evident at the 2007 Build Boston convention and trade show. This conference has become, over the years, one of the key learning opportunities for the construction professions. And with over 15,500 attendees and a hall full of exhibitors, many workshops at the November conference were sold out in advance.
While recent headlines and covers of some magazines have been grabbed by what might be termed "playground sculpture" architecture, the building industry is being revolutionized at its core by more workmanlike and environmentally conscious ideas, such as integrated practice, sustainable design, universal design, and renewable energy. If the Build Boston workshops gave any hint, the way we practice architecture and construction will become substantially different than the current mainstream approach.
One of the major themes of the conference was that the established contemporary construction triad separating owner, builder, and designer is in the midst of changing significantly to one in which major elements of all three parties are pulled into a single central entity. This topic was covered from various angles by five different seminars as part of the Integrated Practice Symposium within Build Boston.
A powerful catalyst for this change is building information modeling (BIM), also called virtual building modeling. The key concept is that the BIM model or virtual model is shared and used by all major parties of the construction process. The American Institute of Architects is already working on new contract standards and models for design practice that can make this sharing of data, liability, profit, and project quality a reality, as evidenced by their recently released working paper, Integrated Project Delivery: A Guide.
While some may view this idea as pie in the sky, the reality is that this type of integrated practice is already happening with increased frequency, as shown by many case studies presented at Build Boston.
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The 2007 Build Boston convention and trade show, November 13-15, 2007, included more than 15,000 participants and around 350 exhibitors.
Photo: Courtesy Justin Knight Photography
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Building information model (BIM) data can be used to coordinate across disciplines in an integrated project.
Image: Courtesy Jacobs Engineering Group Inc.
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