AEC Tech News (#226)

23 Apr, 2008 By: Kenneth Wong

Igniting the Controversial Fiery Origins

Boston architect redefines modernism with ArchiCAD.

By Kenneth Wong

Kenneth Wong photo

Charlestown architect Bob Augustine likes to cite Daniel Libeskind, an architect who said, "Tradition is veiling of fiery origins." In his own work, Augustine seeks to examine those origins and "infuse them with modern sensibilities, functional design, and smart technology." He said he was "looking for the spark of insight embedded in the tradition, not its bonds of authority and heavy-handed dogma."

Recently, he found out just how controversial it was to remove the traditional architectural facades people have grown accustomed to over the years. He recalled an anonymous phone call he received.

"Is this Bob Augustine? Are you the architect for that house on Grove Street in Cambridge?" asked the caller. Once he answered in the affirmative, she unleashed a torrent of emotion, beginning with, "Hideous — it's hideous!"

Recounting the incident on his Web site, he wrote, "I knew the house was modern and possibly controversial, but I was not quite prepared for the extremes of reaction it has drawn out."

Augustine has practiced architecture for more than 30 years and taught it for nearly 10 years at the Boston Architecture College as director of the Architectural and Interior Design Thesis Programs. His introduction to BIM (building information modeling), a decidedly modern approach, didn't come until he'd left academia. But now that he'd discovered a smart technology, Graphisoft's ArchiCAD, he wasn't about to go back to the way he used to work 30 years ago. Read more »

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Kenneth Wong is a Cadalyst columnist and former Cadence editor. He explores innovative uses of technology and its implications in his writing. Reach him at


Tech Trends:
The Summer of BIM

By Kenneth Wong

What if one summer — or in this case, winter — a bunch of idealistic architects, designers, building owners, contractors, and consultants decided to do away with the professional hierarchies, business protocols, and legal constraints that have long prevented them from working together? What if they converged on a destination and simply spent the day exchanging ideas about the high-rises, hospitals, firehouses, and schools they envision building there?

The Woodstock of BIM (building information modeling), as the organizers prefer to call it, took place this winter. On January 31, soon after sunrise, 133 individuals from Boston, Maryland, Hawaii, Canada, Mexico, Japan, the Netherlands, the Philippines, and elsewhere began to transform the 60 city blocks east of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. A day later, they left behind 420 buildings, encompassing 54,755,153 sq. ft. Perhaps the most astonishing number is the total mileage traveled by the participants: zero. Read more »


Mark Your Calendar: AEC Events

Autodesk Experience Tour
Through June 26, 2008
Various U.S. and Canadian Cities
These sessions promise to show how to visualize, simulate, and analyze the real-world performance of your ideas; optimize and improve designs before creating anything; and achieve higher-quality designs in less time. Read more

Lecture: Using Revit in the Residential World to Facilitate Sustainable Design
April 25, 2008
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Architect David Cohen will present a walk-through of a real-world example using Revit in the residential world and will show how the software facilitates sustainable design. Sponsored by Synergis. Read more

Autodesk 2009 Technology for Building Design and Engineering
May 6-20, 2008
Various U.S. Cities
Presented by Avatech Solutions, the free 2009 Autodesk Rollout series of events for architects and building systems engineers will cover release 2009 of AutoCAD, AutoCAD Architecture, Revit Architecture, Revit Structure, 3ds Max Design, AutoCAD MEP, and Revit MEP. Read more

Autodesk 2009 Technology for Civil Professionals
May 6-21, 2008
Various U.S. Cities
Avatech Solutions will sponsor a free 2009 Autodesk Rollout series of events for civil engineering and survey professionals. Avatech Solutions' technical experts will take attendees on a tour through the latest features that will affect the way they work. Read more

AIA 2008 National Convention and Design Exposition
May 15-17, 2008
Boston, Massachusetts
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) annual convention will provide opportunities for attendees to earn learning units, participate in dozens of seminars, and visit more than 800 exhibitor booths. Read more

Los Angeles AUGI CAD Camp
May 21, 2008
Los Angeles, California
AUGI CAD Camp, Los Angeles, offers a variety of courses as well as opportunities to network and browse the exhibit area. Read more

Lean Design: CPDA Expert Panel Discussion
May 22, 2008
2:00 p.m. EDT
Learn more about addressing manufacturing variation up front. A group of experts will show how you can drive Six Sigma quality for your products right from the start of the design process. Read more

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