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Los Angeles’s TECH+ Expo brought together innovations in project delivery

Technically Behind the Scenes

Los Angeles’s TECH+ Expo brought together innovations in project delivery

The new Automated People Mover at LAX, expected to be completed by 2023, will be fully automated and was one of the project’s shows at TECH+ L.A. (Courtesy LAWA)

On February 6, The TECH+ Expo transformed the second floor of Los Angeles’s Line Hotel into a showcase of the latest innovations in architectural technology. But rather than exhibiting 3D printers, robot arms, and brick-laying drones, the conference highlighted products designed to streamline design research, project delivery, and the architect-to-client relationship.

Chief creative officer of BQE Software, Steven Burns, FAIA, provided a demonstration of CORE, the company’s latest app designed to consolidate the billing, accounting, and reporting necessary to keep an architecture firm afloat. While CORE can distill a firm’s complex financial information in its easy-to-read web format, the company added artificial intelligence (AI) to enable its users to have human-like conversations with the app to simplify its interface even further. Using a fictional company as an example, Burns presented a 5-minute interaction with the app that elucidated everything from then-current financial progress to unpaid bills and variously categorized expense items.

Oval structure above park demonstrating advanced screen fabrication
Recognizing the positive impact green spaces can have in urban spaces, HKS Inc. collected relevant data to produce a design for Dallas’s Pacific Plaza Pavilion that preserves sightlines throughout the site. (Courtesy HKS Inc.)

In her keynote lecture, Dr. Upali Nanda, director of research for global architecture firm HKS Inc., demonstrated how her firm has pioneered methods of design research that positively contributes to the mental health of its buildings’ occupants. Her presentation began with a valuable quote from Thomas Fisher, dean of the College of Design at the University of Minnesota: “Architects have been slow to champion the return on investment that their work can bring, but even a little data can convince clients that spending more can mean saving more.” Dr. Nanda then went on to explain how the data collected at HKS—focused on occupancy outcomes—has improved the performance of its projects while convincing clients to invest in operationally effective and energy-saving technology. “Design is a hypothesis,” Dr. Nanda concluded, “but what happens during occupancy is the outcome.”

Several TECH+ participants shared their insights and techniques for improving construction efficiency. Chester Weir, design lead of global construction company Katerra, outlined how his company combined end-to-end integration with technological innovation to produce forward-thinking solutions to global construction issues. The company’s Materials & Supply Chain services, for instance, have aggregated demand across markets to supply building materials for itself and other market sectors. Rudy Armendariz, senior VDC/BIM Manager at Balfour Beatty, elaborated on the challenges his company faced in determining how to construct a people mover at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) without disrupting the airport’s automobile traffic. LAX Integrated Express Solutions (LINXS) developed a system for efficiently working on the project within the 5-hour period the construction team is allotted each night.

The next TECH+ Expo will be held in New York City on July 16.