Ernesto Pacheco, ASAI, DVAB, Firm Visualization Leader, CannonDesign

In the last couple of decades, financial difficulties have tested the AEC industry. These experiences have taught us to be resilient. More importantly, they have reawakened our collective imagination to overcome these challenges while also fueling research and development in more efficient ways. Fast -forward to 2020, COVID-19 restrictions brought to light the importance of technology in our industry, and how indispensable remote collaboration has become for modern day to day business.

Architecture, Engineering and Construction have always been at the forefront of technological advances. It is amazing to think that just 30 years ago, most of the industry was still hand-drafting over long hours to produce the same amount of work we can now deliver in a fraction of that time. CAD drafting revolutionized workflows to later introduce practical 3D modeling, which, in turn, evolved into BIM execution plans and parametric design. It is important to mention that the driving force behind all these advancements has always been hardware innovation. Most recently, GPU advancements have materialized exponentially. This has bolstered the establishment of production-ready, real-time rendering workflows into our design practice. While this enabled the production of high-quality deliverables in more efficient ways than ever, it translates into more time for teams to iterate while meeting client demands. Most importantly, it allows designers more time to focus on their craft.

  

​The road to the future of AEC workflows has been laid out. This new revolutionizing step is being boosted by new hardware evolutions

   

 

In 2015, CannonDesign transitioned from standalone desktops to a more flexible Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. This has empowered CannonDesigners to get access to their systems practically from anywhere, any time and on any device. This means we can conduct business even in the toughest of situations while allowing flexible schedules for our staff. This imaginative forethinking opened the doors to a new range of setup possibilities that can fit any need conceivable within our firm. Nowadays, we are more effective when grating the right amount of processing power for specific tasks to our users. We are also more in control and efficient on how we roll out updates and fixes to our ecosystem. This has also enhanced our security. VDIs have given our IT teams the means to support and protect our data centers even in the most challenging times. They are the real wizards behind the success of our design firm.

If there is anything positive to gather from the pandemic, it is that it helped propel technology adoption and fast-track innovative research and development within our firm. During 2020, we were able to secure high profile projects due to our readiness to move our ideation spaces virtually; we transitioned to work-from-home orders without missing a beat. In 2021, we are focusing our efforts into securing assets to help with the adoption of real-time collaborative platforms like NVIDIA’s Omniverse and Epic Game’s Datasmith. File translation is the one task that is not only repetitive but that has also absorbed a lot of our resources in the past. Added to the fact that our designers are free to use any digital content creation tool they like to meet expectations, it demands an update to our current standards. Therefore, we have invested into the investigation of future true software interoperability within our design practice. In the last year we have been involved in this exploration in collaboration with our partners at NVIDIA and Adobe 3D&I. The goal of these exercises has been to verify that the adoption of the Universal Scene Description file format, or USD, will check all the boxes for the type of design processes we engage with daily. Regarding visualization, new platforms most align with our previous technology adoptions. For example, making sure that the hard work that has gone into implementing a Physically Based Rendering, or PBR, workflow for material creation is able to transition organically into any new implementations is very important. That is why I was very excited to learn that Substance by Adobe was invested into the support of NVDIA’s Omniverse and the adoption of a USD workflow for all their tools. You can catch my GTC 2021 session here to learn more about our findings during this research and development opportunity.

It is fair to say that the next leap in innovation within our industry is tied to software interoperability. This is a transformation; we are trying to understand how this will look like for our industry by assembling the parts. One thing we know is that it will help democratize modern processes within our design culture. The road to the future of AEC workflows has been laid out. This new revolutionizing step is being boosted by new hardware evolutions. To ensure we are ready for the next challenge, we must think outside the box and pick up the imaginative hat once again, to squint our foreseeing eye and glimpse the future of architectural design.



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