C+S March 2023 Vol. 9 Issue 3 (web)

Driving efficiencies At Kahler Slater, the combination of creativity and efficiency is key. Design teams are learning the benefits of design automation with more and more project managers, project architects, and specialists adopting the technology in their everyday work. The passion that team members have for Dynamo’s ability to create efficiencies and make a difference in their work is contagiously spreading to others. “People are starting to use the technology to create timesaving scripts and they quickly get the mindset of ‘Oh, I don’t have to do this all by hand. This could be a faster process.’ It’s starting to get the wheels turning internally with users,” explained BIM Manager Amanda Abbott-Wiemann at Kahler Slater. Dynamo and Revit together can be utilized to create individual scripts, combined for workflows, that can automate repetitive processes, mini - mize human error, and ultimately make the design process more effi - cient. Automation empowers people to do better work in more efficient ways. Using these innovative, custom tools, the designers can save time previously spent on tedious, repetitive tasks to be more produc- tive, enabling more meaningful work and raising the level of creativity and innovative thinking. “The time saved permits our team to focus not only on more interesting or innovative aspects of the job, but also allows us to better address specific client goals and needs. We move from “doing the job” to el - evating and expanding ideas, all to support our clients,” shared Tracie Parent, Chief Operating and Financial Officer at Kahler Slater. As an example, for one large Kahler Slater hospital project, the team was tasked with setting up all the views for specific rooms, including floor plans and interior elevations. “We developed a series of scripts to automate the process. And as a result, we laid out an entire set within a day, which would normally take more than a week to do,” said Paul Kitchen, Architect and Automation Leader at Kahler Slater. “Creating powerful tools that automate many, many small time-consuming tasks, executed in one touch of a button, opens up possibilities to do more – more leading-edge ideas and more for our clients.” Customization is key The automation that Revit and Dynamo provides works best because it is customized specifically for Kahler Slater’s needs and projects. “Everything is custom. Working with Microdesk allows us to go out of the box and create our own workflows for our own specific chal - lenges and goals,” said Kitchen. “We are able to reach the end goal faster by identifying the steps to solve the specific issue or task in front of us. This allows us to better focus on thinking through and solving problems for our clients.” Microdesk and Kahler Slater work together to develop the right process to accomplish each goal in the quickest and most efficient way. New scripts are developed by looking at what pain points and challenges exist in a design process. These customized tools connect the dots for each project with an eye toward “how can we do this better.”

Automation by Design: A Case Study

Behind the historical significance of the regal Wisconsin State Capitol, the warm elegance of Sentara Healthcare’s Martha Jefferson Hospital, and the clean and contemporary lines of the Hooper Corporation offices are countless hours of careful, detailed design work that go into a signa- ture Kahler Slater building or space. Founded in 1908, the Milwaukee- based architectural firm Kahler Slater with offices in Madison, WI, Chicago, IL, and Richmond, VA, has been creating beautiful, functional environments to meet the needs of clients for more than a century. What drives and fuels the team behind the scenes of these architectural feats? What tools and tricks of the trade help the designers to deliver state-of-the-art, purposeful design solutions for clients? Every architec - tural achievement they produce results from smart people, passion, and partnerships combined with powerful tools and technology that seam- lessly work together to elevate and innovate at every level of a project. Synergistic collaboration For the past two years, Kahler Slater has partnered with Microdesk, a leading global digital delivery and management consulting firm and part of Symetri, Addnode Group, for building information modeling (BIM) technology support, including customized design automation needs using Revit with Dynamo and utilizing Orkestra (sold indepen - dently by Mostafa) to deploy the scripts. The use of Dynamo, a visual programming add-in for Autodesk Revit, which provides open-source graphical programming, enables custom computational design and au- tomation processes for the BIM application. (Other technology includ - ing Autodesk Construction Cloud Docs for file exchange and tracking, Design Collaboration within the Autodesk Construction Cloud plat - form for client collaboration, and Camtasia for tooltips videos are also used throughout the process.) Together, the teams at Microdesk and Kahler Slater have worked close - ly and regularly to brainstorm and create customized scripts and work - flows that have led to timesaving, creative solutions, and ultimately, successfully designed products that help drive results for clients. Enabling possibilities New technology and digitization have been transforming the work of architects for decades – from BIM to 3D printing to artificial intelligence. Innovation and automation have propelled the industry to operate more efficiently, productively, and sustainably. It also opens up doors to be more creative in architectural design, aiding in the execution of complex tasks, and freeing designers to use their time and talents for larger scale ideas. Computational and genera - tive design tools like Revit and Dynamo, can be used to automate routine tasks, create highly complex designs, and enable creativity while improving efficiency.



March 2023

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