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AIA: Notes on Day 1 in Atlanta, Georgia

Some quick notes from Day 1 at AIA Atlanta where the day began with some superb keynotes, especially the primary one by President Bill Clinton.


Down here in Georgia, Pete Evans, AIA, associate senior editor, and myself spent all day together visiting software and technology companies, making connections and attending the Autodesk Innovation Forum event in the evening. There is much more ground to cover today while getting around to a handful of smaller (and larger) technology companies.

Highlights Thus Far

There have been some interesting highlights thus far at AIA Atlanta. On the technology side of practice, one key thing we have noticed this year at the show is there are at least five different virtual reality and/or augmented reality technology companies here. Each of us has had Oculus Rift or Samsung or someone else’s tech on our heads trying out and exploring the many options available.

Just as I experienced in Philly two weeks ago when I put my first pair of Oculus Rift on, the sensation of really being in a space in a building, or outside, is nothing like watching 3D on even the widest of computer monitors or TV screens. I can foresee a future where our entertainment includes this technology—and I’m not talking gaming.

Walking in a tenant fit-out space inside a high-rise building, as I approached the facade opening seeing only vast cloud-filled atmosphere in front of me, I actually felt vertigo for a split second approaching the edge of that space. Your brain’s senses can be truly fooled into where exactly you are using this technology and this depends a bit on the reality of the rendering you are occupying…is it super photo-realistic or cartoonish in 3D?

01 - Pete Evans trying on and exploring the Oculus Rift at the InsiteVR booth.

01 – Pete Evans trying on and exploring the Oculus Rift at the InsiteVR booth.

The day unfolded with the main keynotes of the morning, featuring a humble Moshe Safdie accepting the AIA’s Gold Metal for his lifetime of superior work. His talk was very inspiring as he spoke of the humility of working with so many diverse cultures around the world and the importance of recognizing how architecture can not only touch upon place but lift the human spirit.

President Bill Clinton was the primary keynote speaker and embraced the AIA and its theme of Impact this year, saying that the environment architects are creating today will be the one his grand-daughter inherits in her lifetime. Clinton gave an inspiring talk about inclusive decision making and the importance of widening the decision making of our mutual future, citing a social scientist who claimed that the decisions of a big group will always fall superior to the decision of one lone genius (presumably when inclusive decision making is done correctly.) He called on architects to continue to make an impact on our environmental future through the sustainable practices we have begun engaging in. In particular he noted that we can more deeply impact our economy by going for the low-hanging fruit with environmental solutions.

Autodesk Innovation Forum

Later in the day Pete and I had two occasions to listen to Phil Bernstein of Autodesk. As vice president of Strategic Industry Relations, a professor at the architecture school of Yale, he had interesting insights to share on several dimensions touching on technology and practice.

President Bill Clinton gave the primary keynote address at the AIA National Convention in Atlanta

02 – President Bill Clinton gave the primary keynote address at the AIA National Convention in Atlanta

The focus of his one-on-one with us is something we will unfold in another talk but highlights from that included a rousing discussion about the tyranny of operating systems and the virtues of hardware optionality and finding and using the hardware you love for your particular lifestyle needs.

At the Autodesk Innovation Forum Autodesk announced several things, including new Autodesk Formit technology and options, and new Autodesk Dynamo tools independent of Revit. On Friday morning we will be hearing more specific details about what that means in terms of Revit independence. Stay tuned!

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