By Peter Tuffo, President of Suffolk's Southeast Region
Construction has become increasingly complex – especially as notable “star-chitects” are being hired to design one-of-a-kind buildings in hopes that they will ultimately become iconic additions to skylines around the world. To keep up with the trend and bring these unique blueprints to life, the construction industry is being challenged to create innovative solutions.
Some projects, like the first of its kind, 450-foot-tall guitar hotel at the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood Hotel and Casino, simply would have been impossible to imagine 10-15 years ago. Specific elements raised the level of complexity, including the distinct shape of the guitar hotel, exterior lighting system and other elements such as the lobby oculus featuring a synchronized sound, light and water show.
Yet, through the utilization of advanced technologies like virtual design and construction (VDC) and virtual reality (VR) to build models beyond the industry standard, general contractors are proving impossible wrong.
VDC and VR can not only boost predictability, coordinate logistics, eliminate costs and minimize waste, but these technologies can also allow for key decision-makers to experience the final product and adjust accordingly before the project even breaks ground, ultimately accelerating the project timeline. For example, on the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood Hotel and Casino project, VR was used to expedite smaller scale decisions such as tweaking backlit hallway panels or determining proper hoist sizes to ensure bathtubs could be installed in the rooms. Every detail matters, and without VR allowing decision makers to virtually experience the hotel rooms or casino, decisions can be prolonged and projects can easily be delayed. On the same project on a much larger scale, a line-of-sight VR study ensured that every view in the 13.5-acre resort pool complex was spectacular.
Qualified construction companies that can think differently, challenge the norm and utilize technologies to build these complex projects are in demand now more than ever.
In fact, employment of construction laborers and helpers is projected to grow 11 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. Yet, 81% of construction firms are reporting difficulty in filling salaried and hourly craft positions, and 65% of firms estimate that it will be as difficult or more difficult to hire over the next 12 months. To keep up with demand, construction companies need to evolve and invest in technological solutions like VDC, VR, drones, artificial intelligence and big data so ultra-complex projects can still be built efficiently despite the labor shortage.
While not every construction company is embracing new technologies, it will soon become imperative to keep up with the ever-changing industry. In the meantime, companies should look to embrace these technologies in order to ‘innovate on the edge’ and redefine what it means to be a builder.