Reasons our future depends on landscape architecture

McNeil Civil Engineers UtahEarth’s landscape provides the fundamental support system for all of life. For billions of years, our landscape was and continues to be shaped by the interaction of natural forces and life itself. Since human civilization began some 6,000 years ago, we’ve made some significant transformations to our surroundings. Places like New York’s Central Park, the Vaux le Vicomte in France give a peek into our species’ creative imagination to shape the landscape in ways not even nature is capable of.

But how would the future look like? The truth is it’s almost impossible to know. But with the ever-growing population (currently about 7.8 billion), we know that our actions will continue to greatly impact the planet. Solving many of the arising problems requires a multidisciplinary approach, but this post focuses on the role landscape architects will have in shaping that future.

  • Climate Change

No one can doubt the impact our actions have had on the planet for the past three centuries. As we begin to concretely experience the negative impacts of climate change and global warming, including rising sea levels, affected water systems, disruption of weather patterns, and rising temperatures, we must adapt effectively to these changes if we are to thrive.

Landscape architects will continue to remain pivotal in our adaption process. Through their imagination, they will help create spaces that are better equipped to withstand the changing climate. But more importantly, they’ll help protect, enhance, and regenerate lost or fragile ecosystems.

  • Sustainable Transport

One of the major problems of cities is ineffective transport systems. There are 274 registered cars in the United States – that’s more than the number of adults over 18 years old. With the dwindling supply of oil, it’s high time to rethink how public transportation can be more efficient. It’s also high time to consider how cities can be more walkable strongly.

Hence, public transport and pedestrian prioritization are the keys to a sustainable future. Who else can we turn to accomplish that than landscape architects? With their creativity and expertise, they’ll create better pedestrian cities with pleasurable public transport systems.

  • Preservation and Restoration of Historic Sites

Part of what makes us human is the creation of cultural landscapes like formal gardens and parks. Similarly, heritage sites like the Pyramids of Giza or the Stonehenge in England are unique creations of humans. As the world changes in fundamental ways, we must preserve these significant sites as they reveal our cultural origins and pursuits. Landscape architects will play a crucial role in helping us preserve the integrity of many of these sites.

  • Mental Health

There’s something innate within us that gets aroused when we get entrenched in the tranquility of nature itself. That’s precisely why urban parks, gardens, beaches, and many other outdoor spaces help with relaxation.

With our current fast-paced lives, it’s intriguing to imagine if those in the future would lead even faster lives. If that’s the case, then preserving mental health becomes more important than ever before.

As cities become more crowded, landscape architects will play a crucial role in creating spaces to help inhabitants take a break. The landscapes they create will serve as a ground for people to connect with nature and preserve their mental health.

  • Social Integration

In less than three decades, the world is now connected than ever before – thanks to the internet. While we boast of diversity and multiculturalism, the truth is there are fewer opportunities for urban dwellers to form meaningful connections even with the person next door. We are all fixated on our phones, getting into mindless interactions most of the time.

Landscape architects carry the heavy burden of creating vibrant and welcoming destinations that will help humans from all walks of life interact in a traditional sense. And with what has been achieved by creating sites like Bryant Park, I’m convinced they are up to the task.

  • Food

If not for the revolution in technology and agriculture, there’s no conceivable way we would be able to sustain our population. But the human population keeps growing at an exponential rate. Conservative projections indicate the world population to hit 9.7 billion by 2050 – the majority of which will come from developing countries. How would we sustain our global food system?

I believe landscape architects have a role to play as all humans have a shared connection to food. Landscape architects are the key to fostering cultural awareness of food towards more reliant food systems. They’ll also help promote maximum food self-sufficiency.

Wrap Up

While we do not know exactly how the future will be, we are confident that landscape architects will play a strong role in shaping it. As they apply their expertise and creativity to solve these problems, we hope that humanity’s future is all for the better.

Contact us today for more details.


Tips for creating a minimalist landscape design

Landscape DesignLandscaping ideas mostly transcends the space or area that you design; it tells a lot about the owner of such an area. Your landscaping idea also gives the first impression to any visitor in your homes. So, you might want to take that aspect a little more seriously than you have so far.

There are plenty of landscape ideas to choose from, and people are even creating more terrific improvisations recently. From your ornate/fruit gardens to the lawn that adorns the ground, the hedges, fencing, and positioning of other landscape materials, there are over a hundred ways you can arrange them.

A landscaping idea that is “fit for all” spaces and almost ageless is the Minimalist landscape design. The Minimalist design style is not new to any landscape planner, and yet it has continued to be in vogue even hundreds of years later. Fairly, a minimalist design for your landscape is the easiest to maintain, simplest to plan, and the most classic compared to any other.

Whether you are into plants, rocks, fancy fencing, edible gardens, and whatever, there is always space for all these in a minimalist landscape design.

  • Simple, relevant landscape equipment

When creating minimalist designs, those huge rocks, fancy chairs at the center of dining tables and chairs, and other things which serve no useful purpose should go. Prune down on any scattered or shiny ornaments in the area, and focus on neat, clutter-free, and warm surroundings

  • Use more original elements

When going for elements around the area, it is better to use more original and native elements. Not only do these elements complement the surroundings, but they are also more resistant to diseases and pests in the area.

When planning your garden, plant more native crops or fruits or vegetables. It is also easier to maintain native plants compared to alien plants in the garden.

  • Learn to section off parts in your Landscapes

Every minimalist landscape design should have a clear-cut and distinguishable boundary from each other. Your gardens should be properly sectioned from the rest of the property, foot-paths and driveways should be distinct, preferably in orthogonal forms, and simple natural elements like trees, rocks, can serve as a boundary.

If the area is wide enough, you should separate each garden; vegetable from herb gardens, flower gardens, fruit gardens, and so on. These demarcations will make your landscape look simple, neater, and classy.

  • Make use of raised beds as much as possible

Raised beds (usually fenced with concrete) provide for simple, casual aesthetics in your landscape designs. It also draws focus to the basic and yet stylish way you arrange various plants on the bed. It also delineates the raised garden parts from other structures.

  • Rocks, vases, baskets, and more natural objects

There should be a place for everything in your Minimalist design, and alien materials should have no place. Some landscape designs even use little carved rocks as external dining tables and chairs, but it all depends on the other surrounding design elements.

In fencing your gardens, you can use creeping green plants. They add more beauty and interest to your gardens. However, overdoing these things will get you farther from the design styles.

  • A central piece of attraction

Whether it’s a bare large rock at the center, a flag, or a nice, simple water fountain that looks natural, it all fits the design well. No more than two of these landmarks should be within a landscape area, and you should place them in strategic areas too. Also, make sure to conceal the workings of whatever central piece you are installing.

  • Simple Colors and Toning

The color tones or theme is important in every landscape design. For minimalist designs, simple monochrome colors are the best. Lush deep green lawns, demarcated by wide sandy-colored footpaths, with furniture a shade of the grounds, and complementary colors of flowers will do just great.

You will be stupefied by what amazing wonder the sun has when reflecting on these elements.

  • Simple furniture, baskets, and plants

External furniture should be as simple, basic, and complimentary in color as ever. You can decide to use either metal or wooden furniture; it doesn’t matter as long as they blend in with the surroundings. The trees should also follow some sort of pattern; tall, slim, needle-pointed leaves plants, creeping plants, or dwarfed plants should all be adopted moderately in the surrounding.

  • Balance is all you need in a minimalist design

Nothing speaks balance than when you use elements that blend with the surroundings, architecture, and other landscape elements. A smooth, round rock as a central piece would go perfectly with low-cut lawns and green creeping plants around garden hedges. Some homes even make the color of the roof a shade of the colors of the plant trunks.

Make enough space among elements, define areas naturally, demarcate between sections, trim plants neatly, use simple furniture styles and do colors wisely.

Wrapping Up

A minimalist design style can be so easy and intriguing to create, and yet you can tweak your styles. Most people prefer it for its simple, ascetic, bare, and appealing look. It has a simple principle: Simple is best.

No design style comes close to a simple minimalist landscape design. For more information, contact us here today. We look forward to working with you on your next project.


The rising impact of robotics on land surveying

Laser ScanningLand surveying is one of the oldest engineering professions, dating back to the Bronze Age – and for a good reason. If you’re concerned about proper land development, then it’s important to have a strong grasp of the 3D positions of points and the distances and angles between them.

For the most part in the history of land surveying, humans have been the core feature, although several tools like theodolite have certainly made things easier. However, with the rise of automation and robotics in the 21st century, many industries are undergoing a massive transformation – and the land surveying industry isn’t excluded!

Although robotics is relatively new in land surveying, more companies are adopting it because of its benefits. And in a few years from now, the entire industry would have experienced a momentous shift. In this article, we explore some of the impacts of robotics on land surveying.

  • Improved Safety

While land surveying is a low-risk enterprise, there are still many inherent risks associated with the job. These risks range from attacks from wild animals to vehicle accidents to unsteady ground.

For instance, when surveying a congested area, surveyors are at risk of getting hit by a vehicle. Using robots to survey these high-risk areas minimize the risk of injuries for workers. Unlike humans, robots do not get distracted, so they’re better able to spot hazards. What’s more, an attack from a venomous snake or an insect’s sting does not affect robots.

And even in the eventuality that robot gets destroyed in an accident, they can be easily replaced – unlike human life, which is irreplaceable.

  • Speed and Efficiency

Machines are way faster and efficient for carrying out monotonous tasks like surveying. While a manual survey can take weeks, a robotic station can complete the same work in a few days.

In the past decade, drones have an increased role in land surveying because they can inspect land from a perspective humans can’t. Surveying from a bird’s-eye view makes drones way faster than foot surveys.

Land surveying also involves lots of mathematical calculations – and humans are prone to errors. Sophisticated robotic surveyors have in-built systems that automate these calculations, minimizing the possibility for error.

  • Reduced Cost

This is the direct result of the inefficiencies eliminated by robotics. Faster and more efficient processes typically cost less. Robotics have been shown to reduce the cost of some land surveys by up to $3,000. What’s better than having a faster, more efficient, and cheaper option to work with?

  • Accuracy and Precision

There’s a limit to how precise we can go due to our limitations as humans. On the other hand, machines can be designed with insane precision. For instance, technologies like the Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) drones can measure areas to the centimeter – thereby providing access to precise data that were once thought impossible.

Asides from precision, robotics is paving the way for new measurable metrics. On top of traditional measurements, machine vision systems could start making atmospheric readings, thermal data, and land stability data.

  • Better Risk Assessment

Before land development begins, surveyors have to assess the area for potential risks. And during the first time, they have to do so without fully understanding the risks. Human surveyors can easily get distracted or miss a spot.

Conversely, robotic surveyors that are programmed to look for risks will do just that! Such machines can scan the area to look for potential hazards. But more interestingly, the data obtained can be fed into sophisticated computer algorithms to predict and assess future potential threats, like how the developed structures might be affected by flooding or earthquake. Better risk assessments invariably lead to the overall safety of the building industry.

  • Environmental Friendly

Although the land surveying industry isn’t carbon-intensive, some processes still produce undesirable emissions. Traditional tools run of fossil fuels, which release CO2 into the atmosphere. However, with the integration of robotics, these processes can be carried out more quickly and efficiently, reducing the amount of energy consumed per survey. What’s more, robots and drones can even be solar-powered, thereby eliminating the need for fossil fuels.

How Robotics Will Impact Surveying Jobs

While the benefits of robotics in surveying are awesome, a major concern has been how this new trend will affect land surveying jobs. Would people lose their jobs to robots? This has always been the question whenever automation replaces human labor.

The simple fact is that the rise of robotics will affect the jobs of humans in surveying. But rather than looking at it as a trend that will replace humans, it is better seen as a trend that will change the nature of humans’ jobs.

While fewer surveyors will be required on the field for labor-intensive measurements, more professionals will be needed to interpret the data obtained from robots and manage and maintain the robots. In summary, surveying will become more tech-oriented.

Contact us today for more information. We look forward to working with you on your next project!


Emerging trends in civil engineering

Civil Engineering UtahEver since the dawn of civilization, humans have always been fascinated with building structures – from houses to canals to bridges, and more. This makes civil engineering arguably the oldest engineering profession.

While advances in the civil engineering space have always progressed incrementally, this last decade has seen the rise of disruptive innovations and concepts that will immensely shape the future of the field. Many of these innovations have started to be adopted, and their immense value is undeniable. In the post, we examine some of these trends and the promise they hold for the future of civil engineering.

  • Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)

Although VR and AR have been around for quite some time now, their application in civil engineering is relatively new. Thanks to the advances in these technologies, it’s now possible for project teams and end-users alike to immersively visualize the results of projects.

With sophisticated VR headsets, cardboard viewers and more, stakeholders and designers can gain a virtual immersive experience of a planned construction even before implementation commences. On the other hand, AR weaves reality with graphics to enhance the building experience of the parties involved. These technologies are already making a wave in the industry, and they will continue to do so.

  • Building Information Modelling (BIM) for Large Scale Applications

Since the first BIM software tools were developed in the late 70s and early 80s, it has fundamentally redefined civil engineering processes. According to Autodesk, BIM is an intelligent 3D model-based process that gives architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) professionals the insight and tools to more efficiently plan, design, construct and manage buildings and infrastructure.

Over the past few years, the use of cloud framework has made collaboration easier than ever before. BIM data can be accessed by anyone from any location in real-time, thereby simplifying BIM model sharing. This opens up the opportunity for seamless collaboration between project teams and stakeholders for massive civil engineering projects.

  • Drones Are Here To Stay

Drones have been around for a long time, but their common application in the construction industry is fairly recent. Drones in civil engineering mean quick, accurate, and real-time access to data – thanks to the commercialization of drones and the technological advances that have significantly improved their flexibility and reliability.

From aerial surveying to carrying out safety inspections, drones have several applications in civil engineering. The great thing about drones is that they get the job done without risking the lives of construction personnel. Drone application in civil engineering is here to stay.

  • Focus on Sustainability

Since it became clear to us that our actions have led to the gradual deterioration of our planet, there’s been an ever-increasing cry towards adopting sustainability principles in all facets of life – and civil engineering isn’t exempted.

Sustainable design has been the hallmark of government and private organizations around the globe. Little wonder there’s been an increasing demand for smart materials, smart buildings with embedded sensors, intelligent electrical grids, and other major revolutionary ideas.

Solar panels for renewable energy production has exploded in the last few years, just as zero-energy buildings have also been on the rise. Green roofs as a thermoacoustic solution, skylights for lighting, ecological bricks, and the growing use of recycled materials are all aimed towards promoting sustainability in civil engineering.

  • Smart Buildings/Cities using Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical, digital machines, objects, and people equipped with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network. IoT leverages sensors and network connectivity for communication.

Incorporating IoT into buildings will allow for the accumulation of a large amount of data ranging from variation in concrete humidity, temperature/pressure differentials, and even abnormal deformations. This can be used to monitor the health of buildings in real-time. But more importantly, it can be analyzed to enhance future decisions.

  • Advanced Building Materials

A subsector of the construction industry, advanced building materials represent a new generation of construction materials with exceptional properties like enhanced fire resistance and better durability.

Advanced building materials enable new technologies to be integrated into both buildings and infrastructures to make them smarter, energy-efficient, and more sustainable. For instance, the creation of sidewalks that harvest kinetic energy from pedestrian movement.

  • Robots for Mundane Tasks

If there are anything robots are good for, it’s to precisely execute monotonous tasks. Many of such tasks exist in the field of civil engineering. And in scenarios where such tasks pose significant risks to humans, adopting robots can help improve overall safety.

Robots in construction have been found to not only improve efficiency and safety but also save costs in the long run. For instance, bricklaying robots can build walls about six times faster than human workers!

However, many challenges are still facing the full-scale adoption of robots. Some of these include high initial cost, reliability, and full-scale feasibility. But with the continuous advances in the field of robotics, we are way closer than you think.

Contact us today for more information!


Applications of 3D printing in civil engineering

Building Information ModelingThere have been interesting and mind-blowing innovations in the science world over the years, but few might have the “hurricane” impact as 3D printing when it becomes the main scale. The internet rush of the late 20th century and the early 21st century resulted in many of the fascinating things we now enjoy including Blockchain tech, Data Analytics, Virtual meetings, and co. And yet many believe 3D printing will be bigger, especially for Civil Engineering; how inspiring!

While Additive manufacturing will become useful to every sector of our world, including medicine, art, prototyping, VR, and co, there is no better way people would see it implemented fully than in Civil Engineering.

Civil/Structural Engineering is one crucial sector that has touched and continues to impact many lives. It cuts across all phases of our daily living, from building construction to bridges, dams, roads, towers, storage centers, and other utilities in the city or community. It also has the task of maintaining and improving such facilities. Many consider it the oldest and most crucial branch of engineering, and one can only imagine the many possibilities of 3D printing and Civil Engineering.

Applications of 3D printing in Civil Engineering

The most valuable feature of 3D printing is its ability to create the most complex geometric shapes easily. And create the additive layers to form the structure. With this kind of “anything is possible” feature and the speed by which it makes them, it will advance the course of Civil Engineering.

  • Improvements in modes of Bridge construction

Nobody expected it when the first concrete bicycle bridge opened up to users in 2017 in The Netherlands or when Shanghai, China printed the longest 3D bridge (26 meters in 450 hours). These bridges were an important milestone in a battle that was turning to be one of feasibility. It is showing the world that Additive manufacturing can unlock higher levels of human development, including; emergency bridges constructed in seconds, quick response to disasters, and many more.

  • Improving roads and maintenance techniques

Transportation by road is still the most important and popular mode of transport today. Civil Engineers continue to research and employ different methods and techniques in improving the standards of roads, bridges, and other structures.

While working on roads, the heavy materials and methods used often lead to serious congestions and discomfort. However, improvements are being made to use tar, asphalt, and others in 3D printing.

  • Improving tools for analysis and sensor

To improve roads, bridges, and other construction designs, Civil Engineers often depend on fiber-optic sensors. While these sensors are important to the Engineer, they are also costly to install in the structures and often not compatible with the construction materials used.

However, advancement in 3D printing has developed a simple 3D printed packaging for sensors. These packagings are not only suitable for almost all construction materials but are simple to mount.

When these sensors and devices are fully developed and released, it will help Civil Engineers make a proper and accurate analysis of the structures.

  • Reduce waste and cost in construction

Each year billions of dollars are lost due to waste from construction worldwide, one of the many downsides to the traditional manufacturing process. And some of these wastes are the major constituents of the biological degradation of the earth.

Additive manufacturing produces nearly zero wastes throughout the process of construction. Besides, it creates even more complex shapes than any of the manufacturing processes listed above. Most of the machines, buildings, and other constructions made with 3D printing are achieved with far lesser costs each time. And the continuous advancement in the field will continue to drive down these prices.

  • Achieving more Complex Shapes in designs and constructions

One can only imagine how many designs have been abandoned in the past for being too complex or costly to manufacture. However, complexities in shapes are one of the most interesting features of 3D printers. It allows for more innovation, flexibility, adjustments in designs, and above all, makes it more cost-effective. It comes out as a perfect photocopy of what you see in the drawings, only this time; it becomes tangible.

  • Complete construction in fewer periods

Although improvements in some of the techs/methods used by Civil Engineers have greatly reduced construction periods, it is still a bit slow for the growth we aim to achieve.

Through 3D printing, medical supply grounds, houses, and other temporal utilities are being constructed. With 3D printing, it has become very possible to design more complex and difficult parts in fewer periods.

Wrapping Up

Among the many techs emerging to reshape our world, 3D printing is leading that charge. And many industries have not looked away from it. The sort of attention 3D printing is getting, including research, funding, investments, and patience, will make it the next “big thing” like the internet.

It would mean; Telecoms mast being assembled and mounted in minutes, massive improvements to the housing system, construction of durable roads, and more aesthetic malls and landmark buildings.

For the Civil Engineer, the only limitations to 3D printing are their imagination.

Contact us today with any questions you may have. We look forward to hearing from you!


Taking 3D Printing to the Next Industrial Level

3D PrintingFight it, resist it, romance it; do whatever you like with it; it falls upon us one way or the other. And it is Change. One thing that is ever sure in our stay on this planet is that Man always finds a way to improve on an existing process or innovate new ones. For now, the balance seems to rest on Additive manufacturing/3D printing.

3D printing VS Mass production

With the introduction of 3D printing – even at an infant stage, there are already fears that we might as well begin to kiss the old era of “mass production” goodbye. Where bulk production was made popular during the second industrialization era focused only on making bulk items, 3D printing can do both common and custom products.

The pertinent issue is not the ‘if’ but the ‘when.’ A McKinsey study reports a usage increase from 200{ffa1fb9a833dbe70b91c2563ca2a54067368c324c18ffac54b9412388222efff} to 400{ffa1fb9a833dbe70b91c2563ca2a54067368c324c18ffac54b9412388222efff} amongst personal enthusiasts. Yet, we can agree that irrespective of the great strides 3D printing technology is taking, there is a lot more to do.

3D printing so far…

Additive manufacturing continues to break natural barriers, thinning the lines between feasible and otherwise, and lots more. Below are some of the programs that are taking off as a result of Additive manufacturing. And how they will fare in the future.

Medicine and health

Since early times, the pursuit of better treatments/medicine has driven more people to innovate. Currently, 3D printing is being experimented with; in the printing of human tissues or the manufacture of specific human organs.

Noble, as the idea is, there is a likelihood it will run into many ethical strains and issues. However, the projected benefits and assistance to life throws a greater weight in its support. Others include regenerative medicine, prosthetics, stem cell regrowth, drugs, and so on.

Architecture and construction

A common practice for architects or engineers was to build a prototype from a design and scale the item higher. However, with recent “adventures” in 3D technology, newer and more sophisticated prototypes and fabrications can be actualized.

Recently, advanced studies are ongoing about printing livable, life-sized houses using concrete and similar materials. As ludicrous as it sounds, many pioneers are already testing this concept with temporal buildings/attachments.

The future benefits of this are innumerable; think about it. Houses/Apartments will be completed in record time, intricate designs can be realized, plus you can get your custom home.

Transport and the Aerospace

The movement of man and his properties from place to place is a constant occurrence. And “how easier it will be for a man if his “journeys” are as efficient as ever.”

Many intricate and spare parts of the automobile are now produced with 3D printers. We also expect this to increase to full car production, chassis, engines, and all.

Also taking another wise further look is the International Space Station, which feeds information to our Earth. Asides from housing a handful of astronauts, it houses 3D printers. These printers make otherwise complex parts that would be dangerous to transport from the Earth.

Another area where 3D printing is being pretty efficient and ingenious is in art and fashion. Once people saw its amazing “powers,” it was only a matter of time before they started using it to create awesome pieces. It continues to expand the scope of fashion and art.

Problems the current 3D printing process face

It is not rocket science that so far, Mass production has become very comfortable and efficient for our “industrialization.” Also, most of the improvements that 3D printing gives, like; instant fabrication, customization, and the ability to create intricate designs, might be less useful.

Here are some ways to conquer some of these problems and take 3D printing to the next level

Producing should begin on a large scale.

One of the fundamental causes for the stunt in 3D printing is its non-viable use in large-scale production. However, as research and improvements continue, better ways to bulk producing with 3D printers will be discovered.

Laser technology as a panacea

For many, the quality of an item has been an issue with 3D printed materials. Since layers are stacked on top of each other, structural quality might be affected. Also, visual appeal is lost through the stripes generated from the layering.

The most viable option so far is using laser-based systems at high resolutions. Though, it might increase the fabrication time of the material.

Improvements in Energy source

The amount of energy used to run a 3D printer is usually greater than used in conventional Manufacturing. Therefore, there is a need to improve on the energy source, especially renewable/green energy.

Powering 3D printers through a “green” energy supply will reposition Addition Manufacturing in the industry dynamics.

Wrapping Up

There are lots of potentials and market for additive manufacturing, but funding seems very low. There is every likelihood that additive manufacturing will drive economies in the nearest future. However, it is the collective jobs of scientists, engineers, investors, and the government to strive to improve the process.

Contact us today for more information. We look forward to working with you on your next project.


5 Game-Changing Trends Transforming BIM

Building Information Modeling (BIM)Building Information Modeling (BIM) has transformed the Architecture, Engineering, & Construction (AEC) industry by improving conventional design processes’ efficiency. Many studies have found collaborative solutions on BIM to improve client/team design relationships, accelerate the decision-making process, and significantly improve the ROI. But this is only the beginning.

New trends, rising daily, promise to push BIM applications to unprecedented levels. In this post, we explore the top 5 innovative trends shaping the future of BIM:

3D Printing

While 3D printing is now considered a consolidated technology (at least, in its technical parts), its adoption to AEC is not yet widespread, although it is beginning to make waves. 3D printing has made it easier for professionals to create building elements quickly and efficiently. When incorporated with BIM processes, 3D printing can help accelerate prototypes’ development, thereby hastening the speed of a construction project.

Since BIM already serves as a rich source of geometric information for large-scale, commercially existing, and automated 3D machines, incorporating 3D printing and human workers on construction sites can be coordinated for improved safety and productivity.

3D printing allows the printing of digital files by layering down thin layers in successions. By creating physical forms quickly, teams can better collaborate on projects by equipping them to better understand and analyze the dynamics, functioning, and efficiency of structures. With the growing sophistication of 3D printing technology and its increasing adoption in the AEC industry, it can make a massive impact on BIM processes.

Augmented Reality (AR) & Virtual Reality (VR)

BIM is the process of generating, storing, managing, exchanging, and sharing building information. A hot-spot in today’s technological space is the possible integration of BIM with virtual reality, where the user visualizes the virtual world and interacts with it.

By incorporating AR and VR, BIM can effectively address the problem of retrieving and presenting information concretely. Stakeholders will have a comprehensive and clear image of designs by immersing themselves in realistic 3D virtual environments. This makes it easy to follow every stage of the design process, identify errors, and engage in interactive and collaborative projects.

BIM and VR can be combined and proposed as a solution that allows the client’s inclusion into the design world. The possibilities are endless as a more sophisticated integration of BIM and VR comes into the picture.

Cloud Software

Cloud-based collaboration continues to overtake functions that once consumed hard drive space on a designer or BIM manager’s computer. This boon has more data to be transferred to the cloud, making it easier for building team members to interact with centralized 3D models. With advanced data management tools like Assemble Systems, it is now easy to manage, store, and share project data over the cloud. Panzura Global Cloud Storage System is another software that includes a web-based OS, file-sharing system, and hardware controller.

Using a cloud framework makes BIM data accessible by anyone from anywhere, in real-time. This simplifies the BIM model sharing. Through this seamless connection, information can be quickly communicated to team members. And as you probably know, efficient communication saves time and money in the long run.

Internet of Things (IoT)

BIM is typically used to model a building’s structure and systems during design and construction so that changes in one set of plans can be simultaneously updated in other affected plans. Incorporating IoT into BIM can be the catalyst we need for smart building projects.

If you’re wondering what IoT is, it refers to a system of interrelated, internet-connected objects that can collect and transfer data over a wireless network without human intervention.

IoT devices (sensors) can be used to capture real-time data into the BIM. This can then be used to model things like temperature trends, energy usage patterns, and even movements through the building. This information can be used to design more efficient future building projects.

Drone Usage

AEC professionals and project managers are using drones for recording and reporting the progress of building projects. Being able to capture data of large areas in a short time accurately makes it feasible to easily refine BIM models to make them more reliable.

In the operation phase, the use of drones also protects human surveyors from risky situations. Easy monitoring with drones makes it possible to collect real-time pictures and videos uploaded to BIM collaboration platforms for involved professionals to access.

Drones are also applicable in the facility management phase. The long-life span of a building makes it difficult to ensure that maintenance will be consistently done responsibly. Drones allow for the easy updating of BIM models, which can be used for maintenance intervention plans.

Wrap Up

The possibilities of BIM are endless – thanks to the current innovative trends that are transforming the future of BIM. Some of the other game-changing trends worth mentioning include:

  • Modular construction and prefabrication
  • 3D laser scans
  • Going green
  • Direct product ordering

We’re here to help. Contact us today for more information.


Eco-Friendly Landscape Architect Ideas

Landscape DesignFrom the mountains to valleys to the streams to the forests to diverse species, nature itself is filled with so much life and beauty. But in our quest to reshape the earth to suit our comfortability, we have caused so much damage. The industrial revolution started the uncontrolled emissions of CO2, resulting in the problem of global warming and climate change we’ve experienced in the last few decades. By the day, more and more natural habitats are being eradicated to obtain the resources we need to sustain our civilization.

But here’s the good news: we can reverse all of that! But it starts with you. Nature and humans don’t have to be at odds all the time. One small way you can promote harmony is by incorporating eco-friendly landscape designs. Green landscaping – also known as sustainable or eco-landscaping – is the act of designing, creating, and maintaining your landscape to save time, money, energy, and other resources. In this post, we explore some ideas on how to accomplish that.

Use Native Plant Species

Plants are important when it comes to sustainable design. First, plants help to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere while producing oxygen. Moreover, they reduce the possibility of severe erosion just as they serve as effective filters for the water that gets drained into the soil. Not to mention the shade tree species provide in the summer and the warmth they provide in the winter.

While there are plant species you’d love to include in your landscape, it’s always a great idea to throw in native species into the mix. Native plant species, for thousands to millions of years, have developed the necessary biological features needed to adapt to the peculiarities of their environment. This drastically cuts down the maintenance they require in terms of irrigation and fertilization.

Adopt Xeriscaping

Xeriscaping is the process of landscaping or gardening that lowers or eliminates the need for irrigation. Although this concept has been around since the 80s with the main focus of getting through a drought, its importance cannot be more emphasized than in today’s world where immense pressure is being put on freshwater resources.

There are many xeriscaping methods, but one common one involves grouping plants together based on their water requirements. This allows for more efficient irrigation. Also, drought-prone grass in your landscape can be replaced with drought-resistant species like yellow pampas grass or blue oat grass to reduce the water required.

By combining efficient irrigation with intelligent plant selection, you can maintain a nice, fresh, vibrant green hue in your grasses, plants, and trees with minimal effort and resources.

Consider Solar Energy

Thanks to advances in solar technology, utilizing solar energy has become cheaper in the long run. Adopting solar energy wherever you get a chance in your landscape is not only a way to save on your energy bills, but also to protect the environment. You can make use of solar-powered lamps to provide lighting for your landscape or solar energy to power your pool heater. Solar powering helps you reduce your carbon footprint. Nothing trumps the feeling of knowing that your landscape runs on a near-infinite, renewable energy source.

Use Recycled Materials

Over 22 billion plastic bottles end up in landfills and incinerators every year! It’s 28 billion for glass bottles! Not to think about the many other wastes that have to be incinerated, releasing an insane amount of CO2 to the atmosphere, or those that end in water bodies drastically impacting marine life.

While no one individual can save our planet from waste, we can make a tremendous impact through collective action. That’s why we should all adopt recycling wherever possible. In the past few decades, innovative applications of recycled materials in landscape design has been on the rise.

From recycled glass countertops to glass-concrete composite pavers to wood-plastic composite decking, the design options are limitless. What’s more, recycled products are generally more durable than the sum of their original components. This means you not only get to contribute towards preserving our planet in style, but you also get to adopt a style that’s guaranteed to last.

Think Sustainably

The great thing about sustainable landscaping is that it triggers the creative imagination of humans to develop new and exciting solutions to the environmental challenges we face. That’s why you constantly have to think in terms of sustainability.

Before purchasing a property, keep your eye out for its prevailing features. For instance, uneven surfaces cause soil erosion. If that’s the case, you can preemptively build protection barriers to prevent future erosion. When building a house, having south-facing windows will help you take better advantage of sunlight. Creating a robust rainwater collection system can help you make better use of water resources. And the list goes on … you just have to learn and think!

Wrap Up

The earth system is unimaginably more resilient than we think. By factoring in sustainability into our landscape design, we not only get to preserve our natural habitat, but we provide nature with the chance to restore itself where damage has been done.

Contact us today for more information. We look forward to working with you on your next project!


McNeil Engineering’s Winter 2020 Project Recap

McNeil Engineering’s winter 2020 project recapFor over three decades, McNeil Engineering has provided sustainable engineering and surveying services to countless clients. We’ve built our reputation to become the very best in the Salt Lake City Area, and we remain true to our commitment.

This winter has been an exciting time for us at McNeil Engineering as we were involved in several impactful projects, where we applied our ingenuity and expertise to bring solutions to engineering problems. In this blog, we explore five of these inspiring projects and developments.

Traeger’s New Home

Traeger Grills recently announced its plan to expand its headquarters into the Post-District of downtown Salt Lake City. We were super excited when we were contacted to join the design team for this project.

This project involves the renovation of the former Newspaper Agency Corp to serve as the extended Traegars headquarters. Led by our president, Ted Didas, we would cater to the civil engineering needs of this project and we look forward to bringing our A-game.

Our goal is to give this new building superior aesthetics and life, just as it will bring life through the 120 new well-paid jobs it will provide.

Bri Village Apartments

This project involved the construction of luxury apartments. This retort-styled four-story timber-framed complex features 166 units above a 209-stall post-tensioned concrete parking garage, as well as several custom designs and amenities.

While the construction was led by Brighton Ventures and Anderson Construction, McNeil Engineering provided structural design services throughout the project phase. Our team, led by professional engineer Walter Travis, was able to provide a cost-effective solution within the budgetary constraints without sacrificing aesthetic appeal.

Although McNeil Engineering is relatively new in the structural engineering sphere, our work on this project cemented our reputation as an effective and robust engineering firm.

Blackstone Farms

We were invited to this project by Fig Development, and this was perhaps the most complicated project we worked on this winter. Blackstone Farms PUD is a beautiful 52 unit, four-plex development located in Downtown Provo. We rendered multiple services to the project, ranging from landscape engineering to civil engineering.

The complexity and size of the project made it crucial that we communicated with other engineering firms involved to ensure consistency in site improvements.

Our in-house team involved in this project was led by Survey Manager Michael Hoffman. We began by performing the ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey to provide multiple insights into the property. After the design phase, our Civil Engineering team developed the conceptual plats and engineering plans. Preliminary landscape plans were designed by our Landscape Architecture team.

As you can see, it took all hands on deck to make this project a success. At McNeil Engineering, we love taking on new challenges — and we’re always up to the task!

Designing with STEPPE

After a thorough analysis of our native environment, we decided to incorporate STEPPE plants into our landscape designs.

For sake of clarity, a steppe is an eco-region characterized by grassland plains, and largely the absence of trees. This landscape layout invariably results in a wide temperature variation, ranging from hot dry summers to cold rainy winters.

Sagebrush steppe is the dominant landscape throughout much of Utah. However, it is an endangered ecosystem, due to fragmentation, despite the seemingly large area it inhabits. As a company that believes in protecting the ecosystem, we have started using STEPPE plants in our designs.

This decision comes with several other benefits. First, because we predominately operate in a STEPPE region, steppe plants are better adapted to thrive with less water and maintenance. The result is a seamless growth that brings out the visual appeal of the landscape.

For our clients, utilizing STEPPE in our design saves their time and money without compromising looks. But most importantly, our clients will feel better at home and connected to nature. Our Principal Landscape Architect, Scott Schoonover, leads our STEPPE initiative.

A Roof That Lasts for a Utah State University Chapel

A chapel means different things to different people, but most will agree it’s a place to meditate, get inspired or connect with the divine. That’s why we associate a chapel with tranquility.

This was the case for the church used by married couples at the Utah State University until the roof fell into severe disrepair. It had deteriorated to the point that a large tarp had to be temporarily installed over one of the three shingled roofs. The building housed two-sized chapels, a gymnasium and several other rooms and interconnected walkways, all covered by a flat roof.

A team at McNeil Engineering — led by Consulting Manager, Carl Greene — was able to perform a full restoration. The process started with the design and construction of a better roofing system after the existing roof was removed. We used the highest quality shingle, single-ply roofing membrane, insulation, cover boards and wood deck. The new roof is guaranteed to last over 30 years — that’s why we gave USU a 30-year warranty.

At McNeil Engineering, we are confident in our expertise, and we only deliver the best!

This winter was an exciting time for us at McNeil Engineering — thanks to the intriguing projects we worked on, as well as the new initiatives we explored. Continuous learning and innovation are the heart of McNeil Engineering, and that’s why we always achieve spectacular results for our clients!

Feel free to reach out to us today for more information. We are looking forward to working with you.


7 Principles of Landscape Design

landscape architectureFrom countless human-made objects to nature itself, different designs are everywhere. Though we instinctively know an aesthetic design when we see one, describing why such an object or scenery is visually appealing gets elusive for most people. But as you can probably guess, there are underlying principles that evoke the appreciation of beauty in humans. They are referred to as the principles of design.

When these principles are applied to landscape design, it gives your landscape a sense of cohesion and aesthetics. Armed with these principles, you can push your creativity to bring even your wildest ideas to fruition. In this post, we’ll explore these principles.

Unity

Unity refers to how different elements of a design work come together to create a sense of wholeness. In terms of landscape design, this means landscape elements such as grass, bushes, trees, and more are supposed to complement one another to create a central theme.

Unity in landscape design can be achieved in a variety of ways. Arranging plants based on their shape is a great way to attain that. Hence, consider making the trees surrounding your lawn, as well as the bushes in your yard, uniformly shaped. Consequently, you may have to avoid trees that have different shapes.

But if you want to incorporate several shapes, then repetition is a great way to attain unity. Arranging objects repetitively can add life to your landscape. Common patterns you should consider include short-high-short, small-big-small, and square-round-square. Repetition allows you to explore the diversification of design without compromising unity.

Balance

Balance is the distribution of the visual weight of objects, colors, textures, and space. In simpler terms, it’s all about creating a sense of equality, which, in turn, boosts visual attractiveness. There are two types of balance: symmetrical (formal) and asymmetrical (informal) balance.

In symmetrical balance, the two sides of the landscape are mirror images of each other. A tree lying to the left of the symmetry line is directly replicated at the right with the same dimensions. Taking this approach requires constant maintenance to ensure that both sides continually look identical.

On the other hand, asymmetrical balance allows for the arrangement of objects in a more chaotic way. Consequently, it allows for greater freedom. While different elements are used in their landscape composition, they are balanced using their imaginary weights.

Simplicity

Simplicity is the discipline of minimizing and refining a design. Keeping landscapes simple, not cluttered or fussy, is always a good practice. However, simplicity does not mean you should avoid complex features. Many landscapes have complex features, including water features, extensive lighting features, and complex architectural designs. What you should avoid is the use of too many colors, shapes, curves, and textures. But again, that doesn’t mean you stifle your creativity. Ultimately, it’s about finding the right balance that will give a cohesive theme.

Proportion

Proportion refers to the size relationship that parts of the design have to each other and the design as a whole. Just think about how the size of a chair’s back is built in proportion to its legs’ size. In the same way, the buildings, plants, space, elements of décor, and other elements of your landscape have to be proportionately sized. This means taking into account vertical, horizontal, and spatial relationships.

Focalization

Any good landscape design has a focal point where the viewers’ eyes are drawn to. For instance, think of a fountain surrounded by bushes. The fountain is the focal point as it draws viewers’ attention to the centerpiece. Common features that attract viewers’ attention include bright colors, complex shapes, statues, high-tech features, and many more.

In most landscape designs, there is usually one main focal point with several other focalization points in different areas of the landscape. However, overusing this principle can lead to the opposite effect.

Rhythm

Rhythm is about repetition and the strategic placement of elements that contribute to a landscape’s underlying structure. A rhythm is established in layman’s terms when something in the landscape is repeated with a standard interval. This can be a row of plants, benches, or lamp posts positioned at an equal interval from one another. This principle gives a landscape a sense of movement, which can draw people into the landscape, thereby calming their souls.

Contrast

Contrast refers to placing opposing elements together (black/white, light/dark, smooth/rough, etc.) to create visual interest. By arranging color in alternating ways, you can transform your landscape into a strikingly fresh and appealing scenery. Contrast can also be used to create perspective in your landscape design. For instance, warm colors like orange and red make an object stand out and appear closer to you. On the other hand, cold colors like green and blue make objects appear farther.

We’re here to help and look forward to working with you on your next project. Contact us today!