Microdesk, which provides building information modeling (BIM) implementation, management, and modeling services, thinks three factors will improve planning and design over the next few years.

Building for social good

As the cost of technologies like computational fluid dynamics and finite element analysis falls, the drive to better meet the long-term needs of communities will lead to the development of industry standards.

“We’re also seeing increased dialogue around ‘building health’ and what it means to create facilities that take into account their impact on the environment as well as their inhabitants,” says Microdesk Chief Operating Officer Laura Guzman. “Truly, the two go hand in hand.”


Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) usage will grow exponentially as the devices become more capable, smaller, less expensive, and legal for commercial use.

In December 2014, the Federal Aviation Administration allowed four companies to use UAVs for surveying, construction site monitoring, and oil rig flare stack inspections. That decision opened the door for drone use on construction sites.

As 3D laser scanning, mobile and aerial LiDAR, and photogrammetry improve, consultants will be able to collect a lot more highly accurate information for less money. This will make them more efficient planners and designers.

Virtual and augmented reality

Virtual reality is a hot-ticket item as more facility owners and managers want to experience a building’s design before it’s built.

Many AEC professionals are using (video) gaming technologies to package their designs because they offer simple navigation controls, don’t alter the data, provide a multiuser experience, and are often free. The ability to engage the senses and interact within a model will provide the ability to make better design decisions during the planning process, before construction begins.