beyondAEC Hackathon 2017

The inaugural beyondAEC hackathon for the Greater Boston architecture, engineering, construction, and real estate development community was held on September 15-16, 2017. The competition consisted of a 24-hour window where teams of up to five could create never-before-seen technological solutions to challenges faced in the industry.

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Held at Sasaki Associates in Watertown, the event was an overwhelming success with 43 registrants dividing into 10 project teams that consisted of: 7 college students (AEC and computer science), more than 25% women, and 21 different companies representing architecture, landscape architecture, construction, mechanical and structural engineering, technology and architecture consulting, computer science, software, and fabrication. In the end three projects were chosen for Most Impressive Use of Technology, Most Practical (could be used in an office "tomorrow"), and Best Cross-discipline Hack among teammates.

For a full recap of the event, winners, and photos head over to the beyondAEC.tech website.

MY SIDE OF THE STORY...

As one of the principal organizers of beyondAEC, my vision was to help propel the profession into the future by providing a forum where people could demonstrate technological expertise, learn new skills, and create something innovative through teamwork and collective resources. Teams naturally formed at the outset and the excitement and passion was palpable throughout as each worked diligently towards their ultimate deliverable. When the dust settled, I was blown away by the quality of the projects created and the sense of achievement -- I could not have asked for better turn out and participation. The hackathon provided a unique bonding activity across disciplines, experience levels, and offices to a level unlike any I have never seen in the Boston AEC space.

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We hope to make this an annual event and highly encourage participants from areas outside of Boston to join us as well. For future announcements, make sure to follow the beyondAEC Twitter account OR if you are interested in getting involved in the 2018 hackathon please supply your information through this form.

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I cannot thank my team of collaborators enough for their persistent dedication and contributions -- Brad Prestbo, Jim Martin, Andrew Brown, Reilly Zlab, and Sebastian Ebarb. Thank you to our sponsors for taking the risk on this first event and helping bring it to life through their generous donations. Lastly, shout out to Jonatan Schumacher, Rob Otani, and Shannon McMullan from Thornton Tomasetti CORE Studio who put on one of the BEST hackathons year-after-year for the advice and inspiration.

DynamoDC - Precision Inquisition

Last week I had the pleasure of presenting [remotely] to the DynamoDC user group. Timon Hazell reached out to ask if I would be willing, and since he had so generously served as our guest lecture for the Dynamo-litia September 2016 meeting, I was more than happy to return the favor. Apparently DynamoDC has previously hosted several intro to Dynamo workshops so he asked if I could demonstrate a more advanced example of how Dynamo can be used to extend Revit functionality.

One of my favorite things about AEC community outreach through user groups, conferences, and hackathons are that I am exposed really interesting problems that I would not have encountered in my own work. At the beyondAEC Hackathon the week before, one of the participants had asked me if there was a way to use Dynamo to isolate the exterior facade material areas and types specifically corresponding to a room in the building. I figured DynamoDC would be the perfect opportunity to tackle this workflow and the PRECISION INQUISITION: Advanced Extraction of Revit Model Information Using Dynamo presentation was born...

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Revit models are powerful repositories of geometric, numeric, and descriptive building information, however the default tools for accessing that information are often limited and cumbersome. Recent questions have been raised about utilizing Dynamo to execute precise tasks such as performing quantity takeoffs on specific portions of an exterior facade, comparing vision glass to room area, or even evaluating the proportion of total facade area by building orientation. Special guest Kyle Martin will deliver a [remote] live demonstration of advanced model analysis approaches with Dynamo. Topics covered will include: visual programming principles, general logic, list management, list at level, filtering and sorting, index tracking, querying Revit parameters, geometric properties, color for clarity, and much more.

In the hour of available presentation time I hoped to cover the following ambitious list of concepts:

  • basic visual programming principles
  • general logic
  • list management
  • list at level
  • filtering and sorting
  • index tracking
  • querying Revit parameters
  • geometric properties
  • color for clarity

As I prepared for the presentation, the Dynamo workflow grew increasingly complex.

The principal function of the Dynamo definition was to query exterior wall geometry from the model based on a room number and perform material takeoffs, directional composition, and visual analysis.

OBJECTIVES: Target specific rooms in the Revit model by Room Number, isolate the exterior Wall/Window elements specific to that room, calculate total area of exterior facade for each Room, understand composition of vision to solid materials, and assist with code calculations such as light & ventilation.

OBJECTIVES: Target specific rooms in the Revit model by Room Number, isolate the exterior Wall/Window elements specific to that room, calculate total area of exterior facade for each Room, understand composition of vision to solid materials, and assist with code calculations such as light & ventilation.

OBJECTIVES: Query all exterior Wall elements, use the underlying geometry to determine direction of each wall, sort walls by cardinal directions or bespoke orientation system, and calculate proportion of facade areas for each direction.

OBJECTIVES: Query all exterior Wall elements, use the underlying geometry to determine direction of each wall, sort walls by cardinal directions or bespoke orientation system, and calculate proportion of facade areas for each direction.

OBJECTIVE: Color specific items for analysis, visual clarity, and storytelling

OBJECTIVE: Color specific items for analysis, visual clarity, and storytelling

The live demonstration was recorded for your viewing pleasure. You may notice the video starts a little late due to technical difficulties but no significant content was missed. Presentation slides and the Dynamo file can be accessed HERE.

Even with a rush towards the end, I was able to successfully make it through all the content. I appreciate the audience being super receptive and patient given the hands-off format. And a very special thank you Timon Hazell, John Schippers, and Dana De Fillippi for the opportunity.

DynamoDC audience

DynamoDC audience

Kyle's "home studio" setup

Kyle's "home studio" setup

The other day I received a surprise t-shirt in the mail as a thank-you, I will wear it with pride!

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