With New Digital Tools, Architects Expand High-Tech, Virtual Work (Carrier Johnson + CULTURE)

Casey Mahon

Today’s design tools are rapidly changing the work of architects and building teams — and giving the buildings they create longer and more adaptable lives. Design work is finetuned using 3-D virtual models, and construction teams build with computer-driven fabrication for customized creations, says San Diego-based Casey Mahon. The new buildings can even benefit from Internet-enabled systems, so they’re more responsive to end-user needs.

The latest design technology is Mahon’s daily focus at the award-winning firm Carrier Johnson + CULTURE, where he was recently named Digital Practice Manager, a new post.

In his role, Mahon oversees a number of initiatives that represent the leading edge of architectural design practice. Among the highlights:

  • Virtual reality. Mahon has been incorporating virtual reality systems, or VR, to improve design processes and make better presentations. The result? Clients can see what they’re going to get, and design teams can be more efficient.
  • Digital fabrication. The firm’s designers are expanding digital fabrication beyond 3-D printing for creating hand-sized models. Now the firm is turning to computer-numeric-controlled (CNC) machining, allowing them to prototype full-scale components for building interiors.
  • BIM capabilities. The firm has been a leader in the use of Building Information Modeling, a cost-effective approach which helps create the 3-D models for VR use as well as detailed databases of their project materials, specifications, and operation data.
  • Mixed-reality. By blending real-world objects with digital content, architects can work better and faster with construction teams, where information flow is often difficult especially in key stages of the building process. Mixed-reality is used for the project documentation — a high-tech replacement for blueprints of yore.
  • Internet-of-things. By connecting building elements to each other using sensors, actuators and the Internet, buildings with IoT can have automatic actions and monitoring capabilities that make them more efficient, user-friendly, and sustainable.

In addition, Mahon’s team is also introducing ways to analyze and simulate building performance, yet another way to make sure that the building works well and as intended. The tools can also be used after the facility opens, as part of conducting post-occupancy surveys. Either way, it means architects can predict and study how their projects work in real life.

About Casey Mahon
Casey Mahon is the director of the Design Technology Group at CarrierJohnson + CULTURE and an adjunct faculty member at Woodbury University. His academic and professional focus is centered around the role that computational modeling and new forms of representation can have on the outcome of the built environment. His work specializes in parametric methodologies, workflow optimization, and new technology deployment across a broad and diverse professional and academic environment. Originally from New Jersey he attended and later taught at the New Jersey Institute of Technology; upon arriving in San Diego later taught at Newschool of Architecture and Design.

About Carrier Johnson + CULTURE
Carrier Johnson + CULTURE reflects a new focus in the practice of architecture and design, reinventing a model for the design environments of the future.  As a design-centric architectural and strategic branding practice, CJ+C works in partnership with clients to provide innovative building, living, and communications solutions, reflecting the unique three-dimensional brand opportunities for each situation. www.carrierjohnson.com