Today’s visit is to one of Brad’s favorites of all the buildings he has ever designed. He remembers when the customer came in, anxious about having a building no one has ever been in before. That definitely threw down the gauntlet for his design team. And like the brilliant staff they are, they all came through.
Of course, things are much easier now with the new CAL computers, which are able to design and create images and produce buildings, just by speaking into the mike.
“We are speaking buildings into existence,” Brad says out loud. “What will be next?”
His hybrid Corvette approaches the site and automatically senses the ground is too low, so it rises up to prevent dragging the bottom. Brad pulls into a spot near the construction trailer and activates his comlink.
“Locate Justine,” he speaks into his comlink.
He doesn't have to yell on a job site anymore because of the receivers built into the cell phones. They can sense people by the information stashed in the memory. And the NOAA noise reduction equipment helped too.
“Hey Brad, what are you doing here?”
“Checking up on the construction progress.”
“You know, all you had to do is log in and you can see the progress on the computer.”
“True, but there is nothing like looking at the project with your own eyes. Seeing drawings come alive, how the materials are brought together to make one living entity,” replies Brad, with imagination running crazy through his mind.
“Or, it could just be an excuse to get out of the office,” continues Brad
“And I thought you were coming to see me,” Justine shot back, as she removed her hard hat and flashed him a Miss America–worthy smile.
“I'm a married man, I'm a married man, I'm a married man.”
“Now click your heels three time, Dorothy.”
“I'm glad you’re here; there is something I need to ask you about on the plans.”
Together they walk over to the construction trailer.
Justine grabs the plans. At the binder part is a long computer board about 2" wide and 36" long. In the middle is a ring that she pulls on and out stretches a long sheet about 48" long. Then Justine locks the sheet down by pressing a button, to prevent it from rolling back.
Next, she hits a button on the binder and cuts it on. Seconds later the sheet lights up and shows a menu of drawings. She touches the screen that says “Brad Jason, AIA” project. Up comes the plan for the building that is being constructed outside. The first page is the cover sheet, and Justine touches the cover and swipes her hand to the left, and the screen changes. Now it shows the abbreviation page. She continues to do this until she reaches the architectural page. Justine points to a part of the plans.
“We’re going to have an interference issue here.”
“Really, in what way?” questions Brad.
“Right here,” replies Justine, as she touches part of the screen with her hands and enlarges a part of the plan.
Still on the plan she touches the word mechanical and plumbing. They both show up overlaying on each other.
“There, we have a pipe going through the HVAC duct. That might make things difficult.”
“Let’s see here, what does the 3D show us,” replies Brad.
Brad touches another button saying 3D. The drawing is now in isometric.
Then he takes his finger and rotates the view.
“Well h***, you're right,” swears Brad.
Brad follows the pipe going through the duct, down to the first floor.
“It looks like we can move the pipe over out of the way to here. We will have to adjust the wall some.”
“S***, I just put that wall up. You mean I have to take out that whole wall!” Justine swears back.
“Settle down, let me look at the wall and see,” Brad says calmly.
He hits a couple of buttons and new sheets pop up.
“All right, it looks like you can stagger the wall at the pipe. Create a little chase, can't do much more than that,” Brad says. “There is just too much happening in that room.”
Justine replies, “At least we don't have to move the whole wall.”
Then, a voice over the comlink calls out, “Justine, come back.”
“Go ahead, John,” she replies.
John answers back, “One of our pads are down. Could we get another one out here on the north end?”
“You got it, be out on a moment.”
“Out of all our technological advances, the construction pads made with nanocellulose sometimes aren’t a substitute for a regular set of paper plans. The battery never goes dead on paper,” says Brad.
“Tell me about it,” replies Justine. “Come on, grab a helmet, and we’ll go see what else John needs. Then we’ll take a tour of the building.”
They each don a helmet that looks like an old bike helmet from the 1990s but is transparent.
“Hey, Justine, have you heard about the concrete building company in Bossier City that is taking rocks and melting them down to form walls? That's some very cutting-edge stuff.”
“Really?” replies Justine in a surprised tone. “You have got to be kidding me.”
“I’m telling you the truth. It's …”
People scatter at the warning shout as a beam falls to the ground.
Justine screams out, “Jesús!”
Everyone runs over to where Jesús is laying. One guy removes the carbon beam off Jesús. Carbon fibers developed in the late 20th century are now combined with nanocellulose, creating a material stronger than titanium and lighter than aluminum.
“Jesús, are you okay?” asks Justine.
“Yeah I think so,” replies Jesús.
“Alright, don't move, you’re going to the hospital to get checked out. John, have you called an ambulance?” Justine asks.
“It's on its way. ETA five minutes.”
“Really Justine, I'm okay. Nothing is broken.”
Justine says, “Thanks to the nano vest—carbon on the outside, nano gel on the inside.”
Brad pipes in, “Lord has his hand on you, and you had a vest that not even armor piercing bullets could puncture.” And it has a nice side effect of keeping the body cool, he thinks to himself.
Justine replies, “That’s true. A few years ago, you would have been likely been killed because the steel beams weighed tons. Having these carbon/nanocellulose beams have saved many lives and is stronger in strength then steel. It’s amazing stuff.”
Just then, the ambulance quietly arrived on the scene with its fifth-generation electric engine.
“Ms. Justine, Ms. Justine, I am okay to work. Let me work, please.”
“Sorry, Jesús, I'd rather have you working for a long time, rather than one day. You go to the hospital, and I'll make sure you’re taken care of.”
As soon as the ambulance drives away, Justine asks, “What happened, John? Did a cable break?”
“Are you kidding, a carbon cable breaking? The same material used to tether the new space station from earth? I don't think so. Its looks like a pulley failed, causing the beam to slip.”
“Human error?” questioned Justine.
“Hardly. The onboard crane computer would have caught it. Even though the machinery in construction is safer and better, you’re still going to have accidents,” John shot back.
“Make sure you get the incident report in by the end of the day. Oh, and here is the pad you needed. Keep me informed on Jesús, all right?”
“Yes ma’am,” answers John as he heads back to work.
“Well, the rest of this day will be tough to get going again. Let’s go ahead and finish your tour.”
As they walked around the building, through the walls that will have diamond board, which is made from real diamond dust, Brad reflects on all the changes that have taken place in the construction industry. From CSI having to add even more sections to the master spec, to the safety vest that bullets can't penetrate and that keeps you cool as well, to the drawings that have gone from paper to plastic.
“What do you think?” Justine asks.
“Awesome, everything is awesome,” Brad replies, smiling. “Everything is coming together as planned.”
“Well, Brad, I have some work to do, so if you will excuse me …”
“No problem Justine, it's time I head back to the office. Let me know how Jesús is doing.”
“I’ll keep you posted. Stop by anytime,” replies Justine.
Brad walks over to the parking lot and climbs into his Corvette. As soon as he does, his office calls. A prospective client is on the way to talk to him about a new office complex. Brad thinks to himself, “I hope it's as challenging as this one.” He doesn’t need 3D technology to see a building beginning to take shape.
Jeff Hart is Director of CAD Operations at GFRC Shelters in Bossier City, LA where he has spent the last 1-1/2 years in designing modular concrete buildings. He has worked in the architectural field for over 20 years. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi; Jeff majored in architectural engineering technology. In addition to his architectural background, Jeff also enjoys volunteering with his church and also in the community. He also runs a freelance design service on the side. Jeff currently resides in Shreveport, LA with his wife and three children.
To see all of the stories in ENR's Imagining Construction's Future science fiction collection, click here.