Design trends are emerging in higher education.   

By Denny Crain

A new class of college freshman will soon be moving into their dorm rooms and transitioning into a new chapter in their lives. A generation raised on smartphones, the class of 2021 is in synch with the latest trends in design, technology and dining and are more connected with the happenings around the world. The way in which students experience the world around them, especially on a college campus, are pushing the boundaries of design.

OP TECHNOLOGYBy Dr. Eunseok Park 

Having long been set in its traditional ways of manual processes, the building construction industry is quietly undergoing a revolution by adopting innovative technologies to enhance jobsite safety and efficiency. This includes drones, IoT, and augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR). The result is a big opportunity for construction companies to differentiate themselves through their application of disruptive technology.

A panel discussion among construction professionals and project managers at the Groundbreak 2017 conference in Austin explored the rising trend of AR and VR. In many ways, the outlook for AR and VR in construction matches the current trajectory of these technologies overall. Although neither technology has reached mass adoption just yet, VR has been first to enter mainstream consciousness, but AR has more long-term potential. And just like other industries, there’s a reason for this in construction.

OP RESIDENTIALBy Blair Lichtenfels and Jonathan Pray   

Multifamily housing construction has been booming across the country, evidence of what has been dubbed the “back-to-downtown movement.” Much of the construction has been at the top end of the residential market, particularly in the luxury apartment sector. Despite this, in pockets of the country, condominium construction is at near all-time lows, in part due to legal frameworks that make it easy for HOAs to bring expensive construction defect suits against developers and contractors. Developers and contractors are natural (and sometimes easy) targets for HOA boards, who all too often view a construction defect lawsuit as a no-lose proposition. Once filed, construction defect lawsuits can last years, and the costs of defending them can be staggering — and in the meantime unit owners are frequently unable to sell their units.

OP INSTITUTIONALPhoto credit Shelly Harrison Photography

By Lee Dellicker

When most people think about modular construction, the double-wide trailer is often the first thing that comes to mind. This isn’t all that surprising since historically, modular construction was used for just that – mobile homes. These simple structures weren’t very aesthetically pleasing and were often made with low-quality aluminum. But fast-forward several decades, and today modular construction is something quite different. With the proper planning processes in place, any building can now be built using modern modular techniques.

Modular has evolved into a true planning process and building solution offering sophisticated structures, shortened on-site construction time, and improved safety performance. It’s also extremely versatile and allows builders to adapt to a variety of building situations to benefit clients. In other words, it’s not prescribed to one building type, but rather can be used to enhance a wide variety of building components or assemblies. And when planned and executed correctly, it’s also an approach that overcomes schedule challenges and enhances quality.

So, when should modular be used as an alternative building system?


For decision makers in the construction industry, keeping on top of the trends and best practices in building design can be an ongoing challenge as business priorities constantly shift to address changes in the market. 

Of course, energy efficiency is increasingly important as companies keep a close eye on the bottom line and look to improve the competitiveness of their operations for greater cost savings. In addition, indoor air quality (IAQ) in buildings is of increasing concern. A recent study by Harvard University indicated that even modest improvements to IAQ may have a profound impact on the decision-making performance of workers. Because of this, builders have to consider the needs of building owners, who are faced with growing apprehension from their tenants and workers about the quality of air and the environment where they work.

Given these challenges, the commercial building industry is hungry for innovative new solutions to achieve better, more cost-effective and energy efficient building designs. The following are some best practices to consider:


By Lisa Minniti-Soska

Recently, while out to dinner with friends, I mentioned that I was involved in an initiative with the goal of enhancing the development and retention of women accounting leaders in our firm. I asked one of my friends, a glazier, how many women he works with. He responded that there were none. I turned to my husband, who also works in the construction industry, and asked him how many women he works with in the field. He, too, responded none.

According to the Department of Labor's (DOL) Bureau of Labor Statistics, women represent 46.8 percent of the workforce. So where are all the women in construction and how does the lack of women affect the future of the industry? The same DOL statistics show that a mere 9.1 percent of women in the workforce participated in construction in 2016 and the majority of these women worked in administrative roles. While the number of women involved in other industries continues to increase, the same growth is not seen in construction.

CYBER SECURITYCyberthreats are shaking up infrastructure.
By Eric Chuang and Ian Shapiro

Increasing infrastructure spending to the tune of $1 trillion was a core pillar of Donald Trump’s campaign for office, and a welcome refrain for the construction industry. Whether the new administration will deliver on this promise remains to be seen. Despite some cuts to the Department of Transportation in the administration’s first budget blueprint for fiscal year 2018, the White House reaffirmed a commitment to support the nation’s critical infrastructure in subsequent proposals.

With infrastructure investment still occupying some of the political discourse in the early months of the Trump presidency, one vital consideration remains largely absent from the conversation: cybersecurity vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure.

ELECTRICAL TRENDSElectrical contractors are tapping into new methods.

By Philip Santoro

Although 2016 did not bring the momentum the construction industry was hoping for, the 2017 outlook remains strong with predictions for continued growth in nearly every sector. Dodge Data & Analytics’ 2017 Dodge Construction Outlook report predicts total U.S. construction starts will advance five percent to $713 billion, with commercial building increasing six percent. Following relatively flat growth in 2016, predictions like these may be music to contractors’ ears.

As the number of commercial projects taking place this year continues to grow, there are several electrical trends influencing new builds. The industry is increasingly looking for ways to improve workers’ efficiency and productivity, reduce costs associated with construction and save valuable space in new developments. This has led to the adoption of new technologies and equipment that help contractors meet the demands of the project while saving time, labor and space and reducing overall project costs. 

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