Through the study of visualizations, virtual worlds and information exchange, the purpose of this paper is to reveal the complex connections between technology and the work of design and construction. The authors apply the sociotechnical view of technology and the ramifications this view has on successful use of technology in design and construction.
This is a discussion paper reviewing over a decade of research that connects three streams of research on architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) teams as these teams grappled with adapting work practices to new technologies and the opportunities these technologies promised.
From studies of design and construction practices with building information modeling and energy modeling, the authors show that given the constructed nature of models and the loose coupling of project teams, these team organizational practices need to mirror the modeling requirements. Second, looking at distributed teams, whose interaction is mediated by technology, the authors argue that virtual world visualizations enhance discovery, while distributed AEC teams also need more traditional forms of 2D abstraction, sketching and gestures to support integrated design dialogue. Finally, in information exchange research, the authors found that models and data have their own logic and structure and, as such, require creativity and ingenuity to exchange data across systems. Taken together, these streams of research suggest that process innovation is brought about by people developing new practices.
In this paper, the authors argue that technology alone does not change practice. People who modify practices with and through technology create process innovation.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos 0823338, IIS-0943069, 1300271 as well as funding from the US Army Corp of Engineers. The authors would like to thank the people involved in the design and construction teams for allowing us such extended access to their work practices as well as those who have contributed interviews, feedback and discussion.
Dossick, C., Osburn, L. and Neff, G. (2019), "Innovation through practice: The messy work of making technology useful for architecture, engineering and construction teams", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/ECAM-12-2017-0272Download as .RIS
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