AEC Tech News (#217)

16 Jan, 2008 By: Heather Livingston

Building Blitz of Habitat Homes

Advance preparation and BIM software help volunteers provide accurate estimates, minimize waste, and optimize the logistics of a charitable effort for hurricane victims.

By Heather Livingston

The architectural industry readily gives its time and expertise to serve community and profession, to which organizations such as The 1% Solution, Architects without Borders, and Architecture for Humanity attest. Given that passion and dedication for improving the lives of others, it seems obvious that architects providing pro bono design services to Habitat for Humanity would be a natural fit, and indeed it is. But, because of the nature of the volunteer organization, Habitat projects can sometimes linger for years, frustrating not only the architect who’s donating design services, but also the dedicated volunteers and the recipient community.

Solid Rock Carpenters is a Glenview, Illinois-based group of nearly 1,000 Habitat volunteers. Created by the Association Management Company, Solid Rock has helped more than 70 families in the Gulf Coast area since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita wreaked destruction in 2005. Initially, volunteers at Solid Rock, too, were frustrated by the lack of progress on homes they worked on, but recently the nonprofit has embraced the “Blitz Build” style, in which a home is started and completed in one rapid effort. Of course, countless hours are spent behind the scenes in design work and coordination, but once on site, entire homes are constructed in mere days.

Solid Rock’s most recent rapid-construction effort was in Bogalusa, Louisiana. After completing two homes and beginning work on a third during 10 days in June 2007 in nearby Franklinton, the team was determined to improve upon that success. In November, Solid Rock sent 50 volunteers to Bogulasa for seven days. Over the course of one week, they built five homes and completed the third home in Franklinton, a remarkable achievement under any circumstances.Read more »

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Cadalyst contributing editor Heather Livingston is a Vermont-based freelance writer specializing in design, sustainability, and architectural technology. She can be reached at


VectorWorks 2008 (Cadalyst Labs Review)

By Jerry Laiserin

Before manga and anime, I experienced comic books and cartoons. Somewhere in the back pages of those comic books of yore there often was an advertisement featuring "a 98-pound weakling" getting sand kicked in his face by a bully at the beach. The weakling would slink off to another panel of the ad, wherein he would avail himself of the body building product being advertised and return to the beach a new man with rippling muscles -- ready to take on the biggest, baddest bullies around. Read more»


Mark Your Calendar: AEC Events

Webcast: "Approved as Noted: The Benefits of Adopting an Electronic Submittal"
January 31, 2008
1:00 p.m. ET
Newforma, a software company addressing the project information management (PIM) needs of the design and building industry, will sponsor this Webcast, in which representatives from BNIM Architects, LMN Architects, and Mackey Mitchell Architects will describe how their firms are saving time by transitioning from traditional, paper-driven methods to an electronic submittals process. Read more

February 21, 2008
Seattle, Washington
Presented by the Autodesk User Group International, AUGI CAD Camp is a regional one-day training and networking event for Autodesk users. AUGI CAD Camp format includes both classroom instruction and peer-to-peer networking opportunities. Read more

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on