Autodesk BUILD Space
Launching a state-of-the-art 35,000 digital fabrication laboratory dedicated to advancing new technologies in the building industry.
The Autodesk BUILD Space is a 35,000 SF state of the art digital fabrication laboratory in Boston’s Innovation and Design Building. The space is chock full of incredible fabrication equipment, along with experts in building, machining, engineering, robotics, and fabrication, and it is all here for one purpose: advancing new technologies in the building industry.
Autodesk is a global software company that is best known for creating AutoCAD, which for a long time was the industry standard for architecture and construction. Essentially, Autodesk makes software for people who make things, and Boston is their unofficial headquarters for all things building-industry-related. The engineering and product teams that build Revit, Dynamo and other building industry softwares for Autodesk sit just a few floors above the BUILD Space.
This BUILD Space is essentially an inside-out product innovation laboratory for Autodesk: they invite innovators and researchers from universities, startups, architecture firms, and major construction companies to join them in the BUILD Space for residencies, and then the software teams get to mix and mingle with these experts on the forefront of industry change. This leads to better relationships, more direct feedback, and eventually, more leading-edge products.
The BUILD Space is like a playground if you like to make stuff. All the equipment is large-scale, so that it can handle building-industry-sized materials (i.e. 4’x8’ plywood, huge blocks of engineering foam, large-scale facade panel composites, etc.). The two floors of lab space feature a huge 5-axis CNC router, a 5’x10’ waterjet cutter than can cut through 20” blocks of titanium, welding and metalworking equipment, a composites laboratory with a room-size walk-in oven, glass and ceramics ovens, laser cutters and 3D printers, a full-scale wood shop, and, of course, a whole family of flexible-use robots. There’s also a 5-ton bridge crane to move large materials or machinery from floor to floor.
I joined Autodesk in 2016 as a Senior Manager for Innovation Engagement, with two major areas of focus.
First, I had to set up business processes and workflows to manage the flow of resident research teams through the BUILD Space. This involved building a CRM-based application system and a set of review and onboarding protocols that could be duplicated exactly with each group, managing liability and logistics carefully throughout the process.
Second, I built partnerships and programming with institutions, startup accelerators, nonprofits, companies, consulates and other innovation-focused groups in the Boston area, building up the brand and exposure of the BUILD Space to ensure a steady flow of exciting project applications for research residencies. Some of these key projects highlighted on this site in more detail: the BUILDing Forward exhibition at the Boston Society of Architects gallery, launching the Design Night Boston event series, and producing a fashion show in the BUILD Space with Project Runway winner Erin Robertson.