Recapping an Unforgettable Week of Design Technology

On Monday, November 14 I took the stage in front of 80 eager faces to help explain what in the world is Dynamo and how does it apply to the work that I do? For the fourth consecutive year, Autodesk University in Las Vegas began with a pre-conference Computational BIM Workshop. This year I received an invitation from the Dynamo production team (headquartered in Boston) to co-teach one of 3 sessions -- 2 Beginner and 1 Advanced. After a general introduction to what Dynamo is and how it functions, we covered topics such as: basic parametric principles, geometry generation, Revit element instantiation, Excel interoperability, and BIM parameter modification. It was really fun to not only teach such a large group of brand new adopters but to walk around the room and see the diversity of experience and computer skills. With nearly 250 combined workshop attendees and over 49 Dynamo course offerings at Autodesk University this year, it is clear that Dynamo is emerging as an essential tool in the AEC industry.

Monday night concluded with several networking events where I had the pleasure of meeting many renowned Dynamo enthusiasts from around the world who I had only communicated with through social media, blogs, and email. Highlights include: many members of the Dynamo team, the founders of several other Dynamo user groups, the development team, and other various colleagues, consultants, and computational designers and technologists.

East & West Coast user groups unite. Me with  Cesar Escalante , founder of the  San Francisco Dynamo User Group .

East & West Coast user groups unite. Me with Cesar Escalante, founder of the San Francisco Dynamo User Group.

On Tuesday I had the fortune of attending a full schedule of courses including:
Revit Analytics with Dynamo
Revit API for Designers -- Use Cases for Extending Creativity
Design Strategies with FormIt 360
The Future of BIM Will Not Be BIM -- and It's Coming Faster Than You Think

The entire trip culminated with my participation in a Dynamo Design Slam in front of a live audience in the Exhibit Hall. We were tasked with the following challenge:
Design the Las Vegas Strip’s newest attraction, hotel, or casino using Dynamo. But, do it live, on stage, Iron Chef-style against three other people, all in 30 minutes!

After a colorful introduction for each champion where I was affectionately dubbed "The Colossus of Color" (among other things), every move in the heat of competition was commentated by Anthony Hauck and Ian Keough.

Mid-Slam - all the competitors racing to finish their geometry using Dynamo.

Mid-Slam - all the competitors racing to finish their geometry using Dynamo.

Post-Slam - from left to right: Ian Keough, Me (competitor), John Pierson  (Winner), Aparajit Pratap, Ritesh Chandawar, Ian Siegel   (competitor), Racel Williams, Zach Kron, Colin McCrone (competitor), and Anthony Hauck. Image courtesy of    Aparajit Pratap .

Post-Slam - from left to right: Ian Keough, Me (competitor), John Pierson (Winner), Aparajit Pratap, Ritesh Chandawar, Ian Siegel (competitor), Racel Williams, Zach Kron, Colin McCrone (competitor), and Anthony Hauck. Image courtesy of Aparajit Pratap.

The competition was an absolute blast but in the end I did not emerge the winner, congratulations John! 30 minutes is barely enough time to make anything significant in Dynamo but here is the result I was aiming for:

Full Dynamo definition available  HERE .

Full Dynamo definition available HERE.

The moment the Design Slam ended, I hopped in an Uber for the airport and caught the red eye flight back to Boston to prepare for my looming ABX presentation...

After a short day of recovering from Autodesk University, I prepared for an 8am presentation at ABX2016 on Thursday, 11/17 with my colleague Jason Weldon [LinkedIn]. Our talk was titled "Arrested Development: Design Technology & Expediting Process" and showcased the use of various technological approaches for performing feasibility studies, data visualization, and design validation.

We started things off by exposing the audience to others' work that has inspired us over the last year and then walked through a case study that demonstrates how tools easily available to most offices--Revit, Dynamo, Excel, PowerBI, and web visualization--can significantly enhance and expedite tasks commonly encountered in architectural practice. Our intention was to help strengthen the Boston AEC community through our message that these tools are approachable and highly beneficial.

To learn more about our case study, please check out my blog post Automated Feasibility Project - Part 2.

In the months leading up to ABX2016, I joined forces with MakeTANK to help with the design of a pavilion for ABX. The MakeTANK is a committee at the Boston Society of Architects committed to exploring the surging role of digital fabrication, making, and material innovation in the Boston AEC community. The Pavilion was an overwhelming success and I was very proud to have participated in it's conception alongside individuals from: Jaywalk Studio, Sasaki, Shepley Bulfinch, CW Keller, SMMA, Studio NYL, Bluebird, and many other Greater Boston Area offices. On Thursday afternoon I helped the team deconstruct the Pavilion to be stored for future appearances at other local design events.

For more information about the founding of MakeTANK at the BSA and the creative process that went into the realization of the Pavilion, you can read my blog post MakeTANK Pavilion.

DLR GROUP - Des Moines:
By Friday, 11/18 I found myself in Des Moines, Iowa preparing for some rest and relaxation on a personal vacation however it would not be a successful journey without stopping by DLR Group to visit my friend and fellow Design Technology enthusiast, Ryan Cameron.

Ryan generously offered the opportunity to be a guest in a series he has been running internally called DLR Dynamo Next. I enjoyed presenting virtually to a handful of offices about the value and ease of use of Dynamo. I even got to drop a plug for the Dynamo-litia and encourage participation in the global user community. It was really enjoyable to meet some new folks and share my experiences.

...And to my complete surprise, a few weeks later a coffee mug with my personal logo mysteriously arrived at my desk back in Boston. As an act of gratitude for my visit -- and a perfect example of classic Midwestern generosity -- it turns out that Ryan was the sender. Thanks Ryan!

image 10_coffee mug.png

In the end, the entire week was a whirlwind adventure but the experience of a lifetime!