The Autodesk Gallery at One Market in San Francisco celebrates design — the process of taking a great idea and turning it into a reality. With about 60 different exhibits regularly on display that showcase the innovative work of Autodesk customers, the gallery illustrates the role technology plays in great design and engineering. I am one of about 80 gallery ambassadors. As I have mentioned many times before, we chose the job title "ambassador" instead of "docent," because the correct way to address an ambassador is "your excellency" yet this never happens.
I give tours every once in a while — normally one or two a month. As of late, there have been a lot. If you've ever wondered who visits the gallery, here are my tours for last week and this week:
- A group of Congressional policy makers from The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation — a Washington, DC-based technology policy think tank (30 people)
- A group from the Danish Confederation of Industries (40 people)
- A group from Naval Academy and Lawrence Livermore National Labs (3 people)
- A group of Energy Ministers from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, the European Commission, Finland, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States (40 people)
- Our summer interns (two groups of about 75 college students)
- A group from CableLabs — a non-profit research and development consortium that is dedicated to creating innovative ideas that significantly impact cable TV and internet service industries (12 people)
- Two parents and their three teenage daughters (5 people)
For those of you who may never get a chance to visit San Francisco, I have taken a few pictures around the gallery.
- The Shanghai Tower building represents a "vertical city" with 8 stacked neighborhoods (128 floors) where each one is an open-to-the-public park with 14 stories above it.
- Autodesk analysis tools were used by Gensler to: reduce energy consumption 30-40%, reduce water usage 40%, and require 35% less material due to its twisted tapering shape (optimized via Autodesk Ecotect wind tunnel analysis).
- Whether its a facial implant specifically created for one patient or an efficient radiator constructed with minimal material, generative design (using a computer to generate thousands of possibilities given requirements defined by a human) can produce the best design in less time than even an army of human designers.
- Autodesk Within and Autodesk Within Medical allow reality capture/computing to be combined with generative design to produce strong yet lightweight objects that are perfectly suited for the medical industry and can only be fabricated using 3D printing.
- Autodesk continues to offer desktop applications, packaged into industry collections, but also offers cloud-based services that can leverage the connectivity of the internet and apply more than one computer to a problem — particularly in the areas of analysis, simulation, and collaboration.
- The open body structure of the RKS guitar allows body shells and ribs to be changed to suit diverse preferences for color, finish, materials, shape, and even sound.
- RKS used AliasStudio for sketching and surfacing to create customized bodies that feature no flat surfaces.
- Designed for poverty-stricken areas of the world that do not have access to electricity, children kick the SOCCKET soccer ball around for 30 minutes, and it stores enough energy to power an LED reading light for 3 hours.
- A member of Autodesk's Entrepreneur Impact Program, Unchartered Play (started by two Harvard coeds) used Inventor to redesign the energy harnessing mechanism after testing showed the original design was prone to breakage.
- The concept is that the Mercedes-Benz BIOME Symbiosis vehicle would be built from BioFibre, grown in the Mercedes-Benz Nursery through proprietary DNA, that collects energy from the sun and stores it in chemical bonds.
- Although most car manufacturers use Alias Automotive or Alias Surfacing, Mercedes-Benz used Autodesk Maya to pattern the shape of the vehicle after skeletal systems found in biology.
- One of the 3 busiest bridges in the world, the eastern span of the San Francisco Bay Bridge is the longest self-anchored suspension bridge in the world.
- Autodesk 3DS Max visualization software was used to gain legislative approval, bring contractors on board, and inform the public — often changing their behavior dramatically.
- Autodesk and Exploratorium teamed up to co-design 3 puzzles that are collections of slices that are arranged to construct a 3D object. Visitors can try them for themselves.
- Although designs are often created using Autodesk software via 3D modeling, other ways like generative design (where geometry is generated from requirements), parametric design (where geometry is defined by equations), or reality capture (like laser scanning, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)), or photogrammetry (where geometry is captured from real-world objects).
- By combining low-cost hardware with easy to use software, anyone can visualize themselves in a wind tunnel.
- Autodesk Flow Design, which started out on Autodesk Labs as Project Falcon, is easy to use computational fluid dynamics software.
- The laser-sintered nylon (formed by melting powder) dress consists of 3,000 triangular pieces and 5,000 hinges that, although rigid, behave like fabric.
- Nervous System, a recipient from the Spark Investment Fund, uses reality capture and mass customization to shape each dress and print them as folded because otherwise, they would be too big for the 3D printer.
- Showing we walk the walk with regard to the Maker Movement, Autodesk employee, David Thomasson, created this Ball Maze for his child's school's fair inspired by the hand-held toy many of us played with as children.
- 123D Design and Fusion 360 were used to design the overall structure and parts that attach the pieces to the structure were 3D printed.
- Playing with LEGOs has been the initial inspiration for many of today's architects and engineers, and the dinosaur mega model (62,500 bricks) is a replica from the LEGOLAND theme park that helps spur the imagination.
- The LEGO Group designs initial brick shapes using Maya, feeds that into a proprietary brick builder application, and then uses AutoCAD to create plans for LEGO exhibit construction.
- Although not as widely publicized, Autodesk is a dominant player in the film, games, and television industries.
- For the last 21 years in a row, all Oscar nominees for the best visual effects category have used Autodesk software for the films that were nominated.
Each tour is different. Some are an hour. Others are only 30 minutes. Even at an hour, there isn't enough time to cover every exhibit. So we normally wind our way through the gallery, pause at certain exhibits, and I tell a brief story about the exhibit and answer any questions. Then we move on to the next exhibit. In an hour tour, I typically cover 15 exhibits. Selecting which 15 to cover depends on the audience. I am always willing to cover an exhibit I have bypassed when asked.
The Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco is open to the public on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. There is a guided tour on Wednesdays at 12:30 pm and a self-guided audio tour available anytime. Admission is free. Visit us.
Touring is alive in the lab.