If interested in Wikitecture, you might be interested in the architectural challenge that’s being run over at OpeningDesign.com.

It’s called The openAEC Challenge: a Collaboration Competition.  Unlike a typical competition, where the criteria for winning is solely based on how successful the final submission is, the criteria for winning this challenge will be solely based based on how well the participants collaborate, integrate, and build off each other’s ideas.

The sole purpose of this Challenge is to abolish a pervasive myth undoubtedly shared by a vast majority of architectural students around the world: That real-world buildings are designed by a sole, mastermind architect, working in isolation.

The Challenge will be broken down into eight, two-week long phases or charrettes, over the length of the Fall semester, 2012. OpenAEC participants will use the OpeningDesign.com to share their digital documents and to conduct real-time Peer Reviews via their whiteboarding tool: SketchSpace™.

After any one phase, the Challenge participants are encouraged and expected to re-use and re-appropriate the ideas and content (CAD/BIM files) submitted by others in earlier phases.

In other words, copying and using other’s work is not just encouraged in this Challenge, it’s essential!

Unlike a typical competition, the participants will be voting on the designs, not some panel of arbitrary juriers. The ultimate winners of the Challenge will be those teams/individuals who have won the most phases throughout the semester.

This Challenge will be centered around a real project—a 48 acre (19.5 ha) sustainable, agro-tourism farm, called Flocktown Farm, located an hour outside of New York City.

For more details, please visit the following link: http://staging.openingdesign.com/open_aec/home.html

For the past 4 years, Jon and I have been working together to find ways to apply ‘open source’ collaboration principles toward the design and production of both real and virtual architecture and urban planning.

While the Studio Wikitecture community continues to make progress toward that end, Jon and I have also maintained focus on our own individual career paths and interests as well.  To that end, Jon has continued to pursue his work designing both real and virtual architecture, and I, for the last year, have continued with my passion, channeling my efforts into a project that continues to explore ways to create a more open, integrated, and collaborative A/E/C industry: OpeningDesign.com.

In short, OpeningDesign is an online platform that allows other A/E/C firms and professionals the ability to explore, for themselves, the benefits of a more open way of working & designing.  A platform, however, that allows professionals to decide the degree they would like to share and collaborate with their fellow professionals—whether that degree be designing their project(s) entirely in the open, or simply a place where they can openly ask or answer some hairy technical/code question or problem they might be having.


The video above will provide a more detailed explanation of the ‘what’ and ‘why’, but in short…

OpeningDesign is an open, online community where building professionals can ask and answer all manner of building-related questions, whether it be a quick technical question, or quick peer review of a design or detail. A website where professionals can share content, from a simple BIM or CAD detail to complex spec document. OpeningDesign.com is also a place where you can solicit and bid on small scopes of work, whether that be a quick 3d rendering job or help drawing up simple building elevations. And finally, OpeningDesign is place where the online collaboration tools used to help the community run smoothly, can also be used privately, to help firms run their projects a little more smoothly as well. In this way, we like to think of OpeningDesign as 51% community, and 49% online tools.”

Similar to how ‘opening’ the industry will take time, we won’t get the OpeningDesign platform built in a day!  Having said that though, we have been able to build out a small part of it and would love to invite you in to take a look.   If interested, just go to OpeningDesign.com to register, and we’ll followup with your log-in/password.  Just mention in the ‘comments’ section that Studio Wikitecture referred you.

As you’ll see, when you log-in, we only have the ‘Question/Answer’ part of the site up and running now.   To understand, however, what we plan for future development, ‘hover’ your cursor over some of the pull-down menus. And, by all means, tell us what you think (after logging in). What are those things you like, or not, or think we should prioritize in the next phase of development. And don’t worry, we can handle the criticism, we’ve just started after all.

Since the Q/A part of the site is up and running, please, by all means, ‘ask’ or ‘answer’ any questions you would like! If you ‘ask’, please be patient, although we’re still a small community, we’ll try our best to find an answer for you.

And just know, launching OpeningDesign.com does not, in any way, mean that Studio Wikitecture will stop its exploration into Open Source Architecture.  We will continue wholeheartedly on taking on new projects and experimenting with ways to pursue a truly open source approach to practicing architecture.

New approaches such as Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) have demonstrated the impressive efficiencies brought on by early, cross-company collaboration in the A/E/C industry.   At its core, IPD shares a core characteristic to the open source paradigm, that is, “given enough eyeballsall bugs are shallow“.  OpeningDesign would like to continue and build upon IPD’s collaborative trajectory and believes, wholeheartedly that even further efficiencies can be uncovered when a project is opened to the world in some varying degree.  “And what is that varying degree?”, you may ask.  Well, that is and will be up for debate for many years.  We hope, however, that OpeningDesign will continually afford us an opportunity to dial into that ‘sweet spot of efficiency and if we’re lucky, finally hand off our Most-Inefficient-Industry-in-the World award to some other wayward industry.

Thanks to all those that participated!  After a grueling last couple of days, we were finally able to pull together the final presentation and submit to the Safe Trestles Competition.   Our official entry can be viewed here: http://openarchitecturenetwork.org/projects/trestles_template-1563

…and here’s a link, if interested, what others have submitted: http://openarchitecturenetwork.org/projects/results/trestles

Thanks again, for everyone’s hard work!

If around the Chicago area, I’ll be talking about Studio Wikitecture at the IIT hosted colloquium on “integrating virtual realm design environments into integrated building delivery methodologies and curricular intents.”

It’s free, and open to the public.  So come on down.

Here’s the list of other speakers…

Sachin Anand, dbHMS – Envisioning Energy Flux

Keith R. Besserud, SOM – BlackBox Studio

David Bier, Futurity – Growing BIM: Creating Platforms for Engaging the Environment

Joseph Burns, Thornton Tomasetti – Structure not Unseenly

Aaron Greven, AG Design Works – Status of the BIMvolution

Neil Katz, SOM – BlackBox; Vibrant Vision

Robert J. Krawczyk, IIT – The Role of Exploration: What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

T.J. McLeish – Virtual Realms as Planning Tools/Digital Design and Fabrication

Matt Reimer, Gilbane Building Company – Preseeing and Its Impact on Process

Ryan Schultz, Studio Wikitecture – Task Definition for Distributed Management

Can we win this thing?!? We’ve done it before, and we could do it again, but we need your help, and it isn’t too late to be sure your name is on the contributing team list!

We’re now in the final lap, and need to quickly pull together our final presentation – due on Saturday, April 17th!

If you haven’t had time to contribute yet, it isn’t too late! There are still lots of ways you can help out. If you don’t know how to use the Wiki Tree, not a problem! That part of the design process is behind us now, and we’ve set up some simplified ways to gather your input and ideas. We need your help now more than ever, so please don’t hesitate to roll up your sleeves and help us win this thing!

There are three primary efforts underway that we need your help with.


First, we would like to invite you to contribute and vote on graphic layouts for our final poster board. We’re using Ideascale.com, which allows you to vote and contribute easily through their website. Here’s the link: http://studiowikitecture.ideascale.com/a/panel.do?id=4700

We will use this site to brainstorm the overall graphic concept and layout of the ‘Presentation Board’ portion of our entry. The concept we develop will then be used as a theme, or guideline for organizing the other required graphics. The ideascale can be someone flaky, so if you get stuck, try posting on our ning site for help.  Here’s what the competition organizers ask for, specifically:

“Presentation Board @ 24″x36″ Landscape format(REQUIRED) – The presentation board should clearly display the entrant’s approach. The organizers will use this image as the primary board to display in exhibitions, publications and in community meeting in the field. This board MUST be the first image to appear in the slideshow.”

I uploaded a sample concept that you should see on the Ideascale site (linked above) – called ‘Initial Concept Idea’. You should be able to vote for or against it (and any other ideas contributed)- even without logging in. If you care to submit a concept of your own, you’ll need to set up an account, then click ‘New Idea’. There, you will be able to name and describe your idea. After creating the idea, you can then upload an images or file of your design concept. Please upload your layered construction file as well (.psd, etc.) so other contributors can build from or modify your idea.


Everyone will have until end of the day Tuesday, April 13th to cast their votes. With that, we hope to have a relatively clear sense of which conceptual approach is most popular, and will go about developing the final presentation board and other graphics with it.


Another area we need help with is in polishing the final model and completing some of the remaining tasks required to help complete the entry. The Wiki Tree has been disabled, and we now have the ‘final’ model sitting in its appropriate position on the site on the ‘2nd Live’ sim. On that model, you will see ‘hovertext’ throughout the model, indicating parts of the model that need work. Please feel free to take up any of those tasks and help make this model look great!

We also have a spreadsheet with most of the remaining work to be done itemized and available for volunteers to sign up and take responsibility for each area that needs to be done. You can access that spreadsheet here. http://spreadsheets0.google.com/ccc?key=tNAETzOPmdR66uC0rChpADw&hl=en

…and by all means, if you see a task that needs completing, please add it to the list. The document should be modifiable by anyone, with or without logging in.


Finally, we need text to help describe this project. We will probably need someone familiar with the project to boil down all of the main points, principles, observations, or big ideas we came up with along the way (reading the comments on the voting site and ning site will help with that).

However, once that has been boiled down, anyone with good writing skills can help refine and revise the text and polish it into final form.

If this is an area you would like to help with, please check out the document available here:

http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=ddqzdng9_263fc3w67h4 …again, accessible by anyone.

That’s it! Again – we need your help now more than ever, so please consider jumping in and helping out in any way possible – even if only casting votes on the various concept entries on Ideascale.

Please don’t hesitate to IM Keystone Bouchard, Theory Shaw or Omei Turnbull with any questions, or email info@studiowikitecture.com

If interested and are in and around the Chicago area, I’ll be at this year’s Flourish Conference talking about Studio Wikitecture’s past projects and methodologies.  Stop by and say hello.


BTW… please continue to vote on the number of evolving design iterations for the OAN trestle’s project: http://www.studiowikitecture.com/Gyatso/all_designs.php5

It’s coming on 2 weeks since our first organizational meeting, and we’ve come a long way. Looking forward, we have 5 weeks before the deadline for submission to OAN. That seems like a good chunk of time, but things can be deceiving. Depending on who has the right skills and available time, we’ll probably need the final week or two just to transfer the final SL design into the RL files required by OAN. So we really only have three or so weeks left to come up with our consensus for the winning design.

I want to emphasize as much as I can that although our final design entry will be entered into a traditional design competition, the process within the Studio Wikitecture group is not structured primarily as a competition. The whole point of Studio Wikitecture is to discover and demonstrate how collaboration among a global cross-section of individuals (non-architects as well as architects) can combine their varied skills to produce a design that is superior to one done by one or two professional architects working in isolation.

What does this mean for the process? We certainly need people to submit their original ideas to the Wiki Tree, as many have and I hope more will. But just as important is for all the group members to consider those designs, discuss them, and then offer feedback, be it positive of negative. The quickest way to offer feedback is by voting. If you see a design that has something you like, click on its leaf in the Wiki tree to make it active (if it isn’t already) and then click on either of the thumbs-up prims near the top of the trunk. If you see a design you don’t like, click on the thumbs-down prim. Don’t wait; start doing that now. These votes are not expected to be your final opinion. As design refinement progresses, you’ll vote for or against other leaves. Each person only gets 3 positive and 3 negative active votes, so once you have reached 3, your oldest vote will get removed when you cast a new one.

Voting is quick, but by itself it can be ambiguous. When you vote for a design, you’re not saying that you think it is perfect for submission. What is it you like about it? Is it the grand concept? The sensitivity to the environment? The builder’s skills in presenting their ideas? Are there things you would like to see changed? Without augmenting your vote with comments, it is impossible for the submitter, or others, to know what aspects caused you to vote, and to take that into account in the next design iteration.

And then there is contributing by creating and submitting a design to the tree. Here, please don’t feel constrained to the submission of “original” work. If you have the building skills, the best way to give feedback on someone else’s design is to take a copy, modify it and submit it back to the tree. This is not plagiarism, it is an integral part of the collaborative design process. For some, this is a hard concept to get comfortable with. But think of how Wikipedia has come to be the greatest encyclopedia the world has ever seen. It would never have become what it is if individuals had each written their own version of an article, and then there was a judging to see which article would become the official one.

In summary, regardless of your particular skills, you can contribute right now. Please do. And don’t forget that we’ll be having a meeting on Monday at 1:00PM at 2nd Live for a synchronous discussion.


Besides inside SL, Communication and Collaboration around the OAN trestles project will occur in two locations:

  1. http://www.studiowikitecture.com/Gyatso/all_designs.php5

  2. http://studiowikitecture.ning.com/


A quick snapshop of the first design iteration…. hopefully more to come!  To view the ongoing projects and submit your own, please use the link above.

Studio Wikitecture Portfolio