AEC Tech News (#320)

18 Oct, 2012 By: Cadalyst Staff

The Community Contributes to Better Architecture and Engineering

OpeningDesign and the Open AEC Challenge seek to end isolation and promote collaboration among designers.

By Heather Livingston

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ryan Schultz for an article about open- and crowd-sourced architectural design that featured his Chicago-based firm, Studio Wikitecture. At the time, Studio Wikitecture was experimenting with crowd-sourcing architecture via the online world known as Second Life. The firm's goal was "to work out the manner by which a group of geographically dispersed individuals can come together to share ideas, edit the contributions of others, and to vote on the success or failure of proposed design iterations."

Studio Wikitecture remains active today, but Schultz has continued to evolve his vision of collaborative design. He founded the recently launched, billed as "a social, open-source platform to co-design and co-work with fellow architects and engineers."

"About five years ago," said Schultz, "I got into reading about open-source software development and [realized] how really unexpected or ironically successful it is when the content layer … is not owned by anyone, but still you can have this decentralized group of people working on that content." That excitement led Schultz to wonder if the approach could work with architecture. He began evaluating design through the lens

OpeningDesign is a community of AEC professionals who collaborate beyond their own projects via an open-source platform that offers content sharing, design feedback, and answers to community-posed design questions. Image courtesy of OpeningDesign.
of a successful open-source project; i.e., it must be modular, divisible into quantifiable chunks of information, and digital (to encourage sharing and modification).

With OpeningDesign, Schultz is trying to "create an open community of AEC professionals asking and answering technical questions, exchanging feedback on designs and details, and sharing content," with the ultimate goal of creating a bottom-up structure for 3D design. He cites Autodesk Seek and the National BIM Library as examples of top-down platforms where CAD and BIM (building information modeling) objects already exist in a library for designers. His vision is to have practicing architects or engineers that have been developing BIM and CAD objects for their own design projects share those objects with the design community, host them on OpeningDesign, and have other architects refine and vote on them in a way that elevates the overall quality of design. Read more »

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Cadalyst contributing editor Heather Livingston is a Wichita, Kansas–based freelance writer specializing in design, sustainability, and architectural technology.


Mark Your Calendar: AEC Events


2012 Oil & Gas Pipeline Conference
October 22–24, 2012
Houston, Texas
This year's Oil & Gas Pipeline Conference will focus on regulation and compliance; risk and integrity management; integrated solutions development; environmental health and safety; and new construction. Read more »

Search Better in CAD
October 25, 2012
1 p.m. ET
Alcove9's hour-long webinar will teach how finding, reusing, and sharing data from a single point of access can help increase efficiency. Read more »

Autodesk University 2012
November 27–29, 2012
Las Vegas, Nevada
Autodesk University (AU), a conference and exhibition for Autodesk product users, will bring together design and technology professionals for networking, exhibits, innovation forums, and a new curriculum of more than 800 lectures, roundtable sessions, and hands-on labs. Visit Cadalyst at booth #412! Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to




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