State of the Industry

Orlando Revit Users Group’s first meeting of 2018 started with a bang! With a full house in the HHCP board room Darick Brokaw, Founder of the DTOCON & Director of Design Technology for Baker Barrios Architects made his return to the ORUG Board of Directors after a 5 year hiatus. He joins Juliana Milanov, Ken Flynn, Rodney Fiallo, Anthony Tiefenbach, Samuel Leo, Frank Núñez, as well as Curtis Harris on the 2018 Board of Directors. After a quick welcome address from Frank Núñez, Darick spoke about the current state of computational design & how it is here to stay. He didn’t stop there. Darick went on to discuss the future of our industry moving towards Artificial Intelligence & how this may influence change in our current roles at work. The presentation began with a review of the 4 eras, as defined by the tools used. The Stone Age, Agricultural, Industrial, ending with the Information Age. Each era was shorter than the previous era indicating that we should expect the next change soon. The next era could pass quickly giving way to yet another big shift in how we work. Darick went on to point out that our earliest tools are not so different from 2018 Revit. Both Stone tools & Revit still do nothing without us telling them exactly what to do. Jokingly, it was said that even dogs learn faster knowing that with little training and experience a dog will know that a leash in the hand means it is time to go out.

Next, the conversation shifted. Population growth in the next 35 years may demand as much as a thousand buildings per day be built. Currently, we can't meet that level of demand given our current tools. Wanting to drive the fact home that others are already working on solving these issues of better tools & that we need to learn them quickly, a YouTube clip was played. The room watched in silence as_the video of “P-zero” (as it is code named) created by back in 2014 was automatically designing entire buildings with all its internal systems based on codes downloaded from the web. As if that was not amazing enough, this software seemingly in reverse would display all applicable building codes for the building, chapter and verse when asked to do so. Two more videos of how Dynamo has been used to produce entire structures that can be updated on the fly requiring zero modeling were also used to make the idea stick.

“…it’s not that technology will soon leave us all without jobs… it’s here to improve what we produce” - Francisco J. Nunez

All this to make the point that the future can happen to us, or because of us. If we choose the latter, the Design Technology Orlando Hackathon & Conference is an event you must be a part of. This is an event where new tools and workflows are developed during the event by both the AEC and UCF student programmers over 2 days every fall. It was discussed that the skill to carry professionals through this next period of change will be computer programming applied to the use of building design.

“When I moved to America I learned English in order to survive & succeed & do what I love. Technology is changing our environment & I need to learn new languages that will shape our future . Bring it on!" - Juliana Milanov

Good conversation went around the room discussing the thoughts posed. Troy Mifsud of MyCADD Winter Haven Fl. answered Patrick Kreusch of Cuhaci & Peterson when he asked “how does one keep up with always learning new skills to stay relevant?” Troy: “these new needs like others we do not have time for will be subbed out to specialty consultants.” More conversation resumed and ideas of some new skills like programming that may allow professionals to create automated tasks, removing the mundane tasks from the workload, thus allowing more time for new pursuits. The meeting was very much a dialog and was engaging, spawning good thoughts and conversation. This is why ORUG is a good place for all professionals, regardless of level of experience, to come and be a part of the community.

Darick ended the night with his thoughts of what the building design professional of the near future may look like. He described how high resolution images of Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night have been analyzed by deep learning computers (AI). The computers learned every brush stroke pattern and detail of what exactly made the Starry night painting. This information was complied into an algorithm. We can now take a photo of the San Fran Bay bridge in an app on our phones and apply a Starry Night algorithm to it and it looks like ole Vincent is still painting. Similarly, Darick thinks a time will come where anyone can design, sketch, or draw and feed all this work into a learning computer to have your own styles generate an algorithm that can then be uploaded to the app-store. Developers could then download and use your algorithm on their next project. We will generate algorithms (rules of design) that are uniquely ours. We will spend a lifetime (career) refining and building different algorithms. These personal design algorithms can then be combined with software such as Flux’s “P-Zero” that generates a basic building, while meeting all the required codes and needs. Finally your algorithm will be applied to bring that human design to it.

Darick Brokaw can be reached at