1. Shared Coordinates
Recently implemented on one of the region’s most expansive corporate campuses, the Shared Coordinates system linked 586 models and connected the project’s more than 1,900 collaborators. A testament to its effectiveness, every one of the models landed onsite exactly as it should. This system is powerful! And makes the list because our 2022 projects will be so affected by it. We plan to leverage Shared Coordinates on every project that our civil group touches this year.
How it works: Shared Coordinates uses geolocation to establish a detailed coordinate system to which a full project team bases its design models. Models are populated within the system where they’re contextualized with precise coordinates that factor in local topographies, survey files and property line geometries. Consultants can access these models to collaborate and populate data, sharing information rapidly in real time. Different projects and associated infrastructure can be linked offering a big picture view, which is especially useful for large, multi-building developments.
It’s a time, money and headache saver, and a game-changer when it comes to getting the team on the same page during the design process, getting the details precise and correct, and avoiding surprises and errors during construction.
For example, using a location-activated device, a photo taken on site can be automatically synced to a corresponding CAD detail using geolocation. So when you get back to the office and you’re scrolling through hundreds of site photos (thinking what the heck connection am I looking at again?) the software automatically recognizes the precise detail and matches it accordingly. It’s an efficient way to catalog and share information not just internally but between multiple consultants. Models can be linked together, creating a clearer picture and more comprehensive master. The shared coordinates “map” becomes more and more sophisticated as contributors add data.
If you begin the project using Shared Coordinates as the foundation of information sharing, it creates a cohesive and integrated workflow. We’re told often by clients who’ve never used the program how much setting this framework from the beginning helped guide the project along. This is why we use this technology, in collaboration with clients and our AEC partners, with as many projects as possible.
2. A Changing Urban Landscape
Cities all over the globe are changing. In the wake of COVID, people are living, working, and experiencing downtowns differently. This evolution, and subsequently what it means for AEC, is absolutely something to track in the coming year.
We really value Richard Florida’s take, an author, urbanist and educator who we heard speak at Downtown Seattle Association’s State of Downtown 2022 event. The message of his keynote is echoed in the Puget Sound Business Journal’s recent article, “America’s New Main Streets: Why Richard Florida envisions an upside for downtowns in COVID’s wake.” Florida says, “we’ve misunderstood downtowns as either places to go to work, or in some cases just places to live. What really distinguishes downtowns is that they are centers for human connection and human connectivity. And that’s their future. I think their future is bright. I think downtowns have the best locations. They’re served by the best roads and the best transit. They have the best architecture. They often have a lot of great nightlife like stadiums and cultural institutions around them. If they play their hand right, they can come back stronger.” (You can also view the suite of DSA State of Downtown presentations here!)
What does this mean for future projects here in Seattle? It means that all of us in AEC must strive to back up and see the bigger picture. We must challenge our status quos, asking questions like: How can we partner with one another to adapt to changing city life? What is the forecast for downtown office and living spaces? Are we exploring the nuances of mixed-use, change-use, and beyond? Has flex space ever been more important!?
We’ll also evaluate how our designs help foster community, especially in the evolving office landscape. According to Florida, “The office of the future isn’t an office. I think it’s a community. I think that’s what we’re getting to. It’s not just build a skyscraper, build an office building and people come in. It really is building a community of offerings. And it’s all going to be about managing connections. And I think that’s the real role of the city.” We look forward to working through these questions with our partners in the coming year.
3. Emergency-Ready Kits and Know-How
Just one hour of planning and activity per month can lead to successful preparedness. We’re committing to being disaster-ready with the “Prepare in a Year” Booklet from Washington State, Emergency Management Division.
The “Prepare in a Year” program focuses on learning your hazards, creating a plan, and building a kit. It encourages participants to “think of disaster preparedness not as a checkbox, something to do once and never again, but rather a continual process of learning, restocking supplies, and encouraging others to be prepared.” We like that the booklet covers a wide spectrum (it includes everything from detailed supply lists to a home hazard hunt), and that it’s organized into such manageable to-do’s. Approachable and family-friendly, it’s a great opportunity to get the whole family involved in a safety plan and have important conversations about emergencies. Working through this booklet together is sure to benefit everyone, but will especially help the youngsters in the households better understand emergencies and feel equipped with tools and plans.
4. A Design-Build Boost
Design-build continues to gain momentum, and we’ll continue to build successful D-B teams. We’ll also continue to pursue best practices. Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) helps on that front. As members, we’re able to collaborate with peers and partners to grow our collective knowledge about all things design-build. (Shout out to Kyle Malaspino and Keith Kruger who both hold Associate DBIA certifications and serve as our in-house leads.)
Some key takeaways emphasize the importance of an integrated, cohesive team and balance of the “Three-Legged Stool.” The stool refers to the ever-essential project management team: owner, architect, and contractor. It’s important for this core trio to take the time to set the stage with initial project planning, structure and processes. DBIA confirms that a design-build project requires both an integrated team, where the trio is reliant on one another, and a cohesive team, where project team members are committed to sticking together. (If you want to dive deeper, we’ve assembled more of our design-build insights on our blog.)
Our current design-build projects include Fairview Middle School and UW IMA Locker Rooms and Pool Upgrades. The May DBIA conference was great, and we enjoyed seeing many of you there!
5. The Jack
We have lots of projects crossing the finish line in 2022. But one of our favorites is The Jack (74 S. Jackson). It may be because it’s located in our beloved Pioneer Square, or because we have a front row seat to its progress from our ninth floor windows. Either way, it’s an exciting project for downtown Seattle!
Led by Urban Visions and designed by Olson Kundig Architects, the team calls The Jack, “a modern heritage building” and has designed it to fit seamlessly into historic Pioneer Square. The new building will include street-level retail, one level of below-grade parking, and seven floors of creative office space and rooftop amenity space above. The project is also targeting LEED® v4 Gold certification.
As design marries the trademark charm of the neighborhood with all the benefits of a new, modern build, our team was challenged with finding the balance and ensuring we delivered against the architectural vision. A prominent and practical design element, six levels of canted windows on the north side of the structure abut the adjacent building and act as a lightwell. Additionally, the all-concrete structure has an offset core and required unique structural solutions to accommodate the vision for an open floor plan and intricate brick cladding system.
In early may, JTM Construction and Conco poured the first above grade floor. It was a major milestone for the project and we can’t wait to watch the progress and see it rise!
6. 3D Printing
We’re always keeping our eyes on trends and cool stuff that’s happening in AEC. And there are amazing things happening in the world of 3D printing.
- Ekotekt, is a Helsinki-based construction tech startup using robots, 3D printers, and CNC machines to create prefabricated building components in a factory environment. The structures are lightweight and consume 25% less materials than an average build. (Check out Founder and CEO Abhishek Kumar Devjibhai’s episode on the AEC Business Podcast.)
- Dutch architecture company Aectual launched a digital 3D printing platform that allows architects and designers to create customized finishes. All products are made from bio-based and/or recycled materials in a zero waste and carbon neutral production.
- Last Spring, a 3D-printed pedestrian bridge designed by Joris Laarman and built by Dutch robotics company MX3D opened in Amsterdam. The bridge is fabricated from stainless steel rods, the first 3D-printed stainless steel bridge in existence.
7. Code and Class Changes
The past two years we’ve spent lots of time on code road shows, sharing (both virtually and in-person) code presentations. Code development is something we will continue to monitor and contribute to! Coughlin Porter Lundeen staff members serve on committees – writing standards and shaping the development of the latest regulations. We also support the growth of our own in-house peer review specialists, team members who become experts, educate the firm, and who support our commitment to helping clients understand how their buildings will be affected by new codes.
Current affiliations and items we’re watching:
- American Society of Civil Engineers, National Standards Committee: ASCE 41 Seismic Rehabilitation of Existing Buildings.
ASCE/SEI Standard 41 represents state-of-the-art knowledge in earthquake engineering and is a valuable tool for the structural engineers as they improve building performance before the next earthquake.
- Applied Technology Council: ATC-140 Update of Seismic Evaluation and Retrofit of Existing Buildings Guidance.
This ATC group is conducting investigative project work and generating case studies that will inform future code changes. We’re already writing standards in anticipation of 2023 code changes!
- 2021 International Building Code (IBC)
The building code influences all our work, from the loads used in design, to material strengths and properties, and even how systems are laid out and protected. As the 2021 IBC will be adopted next year, we have our eye on it and will help clients be prepared! We anticipate having presentations for both the seismic and mass timber impacts.
- 2021 King County Surface Water Design Manual
The most significant change in this Stormwater Manual update is related to sizing commercial development detention facilities. Impervious surface reduction credits for low impact development – such as porous paving and bioretention areas – have been eliminated. We anticipate detention systems in unincorporated King County may become about 10 percent larger than vaults designed under previous manuals.
- American Society of Civil Engineers, National Standards Committee: ASCE 41 Seismic Rehabilitation of Existing Buildings.
8. Innovation in Steel
Last month we attended 2022 NASCC: The Steel Conference. There were so many great sessions and lessons and opportunities to network, but it was “Hybrid Steel Frames with Mass Timber Floors” that stole the show. The seminar stepped through the upcoming AISC Design Guide which will help outline the lateral design of CLT decking. It was our favorite technical presentation by far and we foresee it being very applicable to the types of projects in our pipeline. (Shout out and much thanks to speakers Michelle Roelofs, PE, and John Hand, SE, PE, LEED AP, of Arup.)
As mass timber becomes more and more prevalent in design, utilizing the strengths of a hybrid system can create a visually appealing and efficient system. With the help of new AISC Design Guides and updated code standards, there is a clearer code path for using the mass timber decking in lateral design as our diaphragms.
The design of hybrid steel-timber structures has multi-disciplinary considerations that affect structural design and performance. There are lots of factors that, as structural engineers, we must consider and let inform our design. Considerations (and advantages!) include aesthetics, sustainability, long beam span, a reduced weight, reduced column size, MEP coordination, vibration, speed of construction, tall building constraints, and prefabrication.
Our final item on the list is something we’re looking forward to immensely: being together! We’re thrilled that the 2022 forecast includes in-person events, meetings and collaboration. We truly can’t wait to be reunited with our clients, partners and friends!