Testing Ground: How Labs Are Changing the Built Environment
At these four AEC labs, students and professionals come together and innovate for the future
As the AEC industry forges ahead in an atmosphere of environmental challenges, labor shortages and shrinking budgets, some organizations are creating laboratories where students and professionals can come together to innovate for the future. The labs, sponsored by universities and corporations, are already changing the built environment. Here are some of the best:
Data standards and interoperability are the name of the game at the Digital Building Lab (DBL), where faculty and students at one of the American South’s greatest universities collaborate. Scores of new software programs that aim to improve the construction process can be rendered impotent without data sharing capabilities. DBL aims to take data out of silos so its potential can be maximized.
Leveraging big data for insights into the built environment, the MIT Real Estate Innovation Lab (REIL) realizes there’s more to the built world than just piling brick upon brick. They study everything from traditional AEC fields to statistics and economics to gain a holistic view of the places we live, work and play. REIL is part of MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning and is associated with the university’s Center for Real Estate.
Funded by a donation from Laing O’Rourke, the UK’s largest private construction company, and housed at Cambridge University in England, the Centre for Construction Engineering and Technology has a heavy focus on sustainability and adaptive reuse. As part of the center, Ph.D. students and advisors harness technology to take building information modeling (BIM) to the next level.
This partnership between UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design, Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics, and the Haas School of Business is focused on improving affordability in housing, confronting climate challenges and improving building methods. Their early partnership with innovative modular building firm Factory_OS is indicative of their commitment to rethinking the way things are done. Factory_OS is a leader in modular offsite building, allowing for more housing—faster, cheaper and safer.