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January 2010
Construction & Generative Design

A paradigm shift is happening in the architecture, engineering & construction industry as a new class of software tools - collectively termed generative design - allows humans to control intellectual forces many times more powerful than human minds to design and construct buildings that could not otherwise exist. An application of parametric modeling technology, generative design has quickly swept through design schools and high-end architectural firms, and is now on the cusp of going main stream. Parametric modeling technology revolves around a basic knowledge of geometry and the relationships between components. 

February 2010
Elements of Outdoor Living

Builders take note: with more and more North Americans feeling the pinch of a tough economy, homeowners are increasingly looking to get more 'bang for their buck' from their residential investments. The trend for more people to stay at home and invest in their surroundings, rather than spend on pricey vacations, has stimulated great interest in outdoor settings that create a luxurious and resort-like atmosphere. The outdoor living trend encompasses anything from increased emphasis on traditional outdoor elements like decks, porches, and patios, to expanded outdoor cooking areas and well-appointed outdoor "rooms."

March 2010
Health, Fitness & Accessibility

The 2010 Olympic Winter Games held recently in Vancouver, British Columbia, were recognized as one of the most accessible Olympics ever held. With Vancouver already established as one of the world's most vibrant, inclusive cities, the Games took that one step further, ensuring barrier-free access for persons with mobility, visual or hearing impairments at all venues and facilities. With an estimated one in eight people worldwide living with a disability, and $13 billion being spent annually in North America by travelers with disabilities, Vancouver has tagged the group as one of the fastest growing market opportunities in the world.

April 2010
Art & Technology in the Landscape

As an artist works in oils or pastels on canvas or paper, designers use elements of color, texture and design to create expressions of art in our built environment. This article examines ways in which recent advancements in green building technology, from solar power generation, to the ecological art form of the living wall, have opened up new avenues for artistic expression in the AEC industry.

May 2010
Building Product Information

Since 1997, CADdetails has been dedicated to getting high quality manufacturer-specific product information into the working plans and specification documents of designers. Thousands of AEC professionals rely on CADdetails' trusted tools, information, resources and services to do their jobs faster, better and more competitively than ever before. Today, the unique integration of their digital product database,, attribute-based search engine, Search+Quote, inspirational AEC eNewsletter and MyProjects design network equips users with an efficient way to manage project workflow.

June 2010
Buildings & Cityscapes in the 21st Century

Building information modeling (BIM) and parametric modeling are very current themes in today's AEC industry. Instead of drawing lines, parametric building models are defined by rules and constraints, which identify aspects of the building - from physical characteristics to environmental parameters - and their relationships to each other. Creating and modifying these parameters, or the relationships between them, is an important part of the design process.

July 2010
Sustainable Design for Public Spaces

Sustainable cities are liveable cities where people from different backgrounds and with different aspirations and abilities can meet and interact with each other. Public spaces are the urban stages where these interactions take place. Public spaces include streets, sidewalks, squares, pedestrian plazas, parking areas, parks and other areas which are open and accessible to everyone. While sustainable design has seemed to focus primarily on buildings, some of the most innovative work is taking place in the realm of public spaces. Well designed and managed public space provide opportunities for social interaction, physical activity and play, encouraging community cohesion and improving quality of life, while enhancing the local environment and helping to mitigate climate change.

August 2010
Building Green: Water Conservation

Reducing water consumption and protecting water quality are key objectives in sustainable building. One critical issue of water conservation is that in many built areas, the demands on the supplying aquifer far exceed its ability to replenish itself. That is why, to the maximum extent feasible, "green" buildings should increase their dependence on water that is collected, used, purified, and reused on-site. There are a wide number of strategies for water conservation. To start, waste-water may be minimized by utilizing water conserving fixtures such as high efficiency, ultra-low flush toilets, water-saving sinks and low-flow shower heads.

September 2010
Hardscaping & Landscape Design

No landscape is all greenspace. In fact, there are two main components in any landscape design, softscape and hardscape. 'Softscaping' deals with the appropriate weaving and placement of grasses, plants, trees and shrubs, while 'hardscaping' is the brick-and-mortar approach to designing with stone, concrete, brick, asphalt and more. It is the hardscape and softscape, joined together, that give the landscape its beauty, vibrancy, and depth. For example, the Imaginary Garden, shown above, is a horizontal sculpture roughly 15 feet wide and 800 feet long. The promenade is made up of two intertwining vines that travel the length of Walnut Street Park in Cary, North Carolina.

October 2010
Boundless Play Environments

An estimated 41.3 million Americans suffer from a disability of some kind, according to the 2005 U.S. Census American Community Survey. From physical to cognitive, disabilities greatly impact those who suffer from them as well as their families. Meeting the needs of this portion of the public is a complex but important goal for any public park system. In the last ten years great strides have been made to create more "inclusive" play opportunities for children with disabilities. But creating an accessible playground doesn't only benefit children. Accessible playgrounds (and especially universally-designed inclusive playgrounds) offer improved play participation opportunities for parents, relatives and caregivers who themselves may have a disability.

November 2010
Biophilic Design & Urban Ecosystems

One design methodology that's gaining popularity in the green movement is "Biophilia". It's not a new idea - Harvard biologist Edward O Wilson first proposed it in 1984 - but in the last few years studies have begun to show it has significant and measurable effects on people's state of mind. The word Biophilia literally means "love of life". Wilson chose it to label what he defined as humans' innate and evolutionarily based affinity for nature. Biophilia dovetails perfectly with sustainable building design because it involves the inclusion of nature and natural elements in the built environment. These elements might include daylighting and natural ventilation, views to nature, and access to plants and water features.

December 2010
AEC 2010 Industry Report Card

2010 saw the growth of several trends in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry that will most likely carry over into 2011. This newsletter highlights just a few of the most noteworthy, as well as several innovative and inspiring products & projects that have received attention and accolades over the past 12 months...