Leica Geosystems Celebrates Archtober

It’s Archtober, a month-long celebration of architects and architecture. While the majority of activity is happening in NYC, there’s also a strong online component this year. In celebration of Archtober, Leica Geosystems spoke with architect Kyle Barker and architectural designer Elias Logan.

Kyle Barker on being and architect and using a digital scanner for the first time

Kyle is a senior associate at Boston-based Merge Architects. He has worked on multi-family housing and commercial & institutional work and has become an expert on the use of imaging laser scanning. Kyle holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Interior Design from the University of Cincinnati and a Master of Architecture degree from MIT. We spoke with Kyle about being an architect and the first time he used an imaging laser scanner on a jobsite.

What do you love about being an architect?
I love design, and being an architect has allowed me to make a career out of that.

Tell us about the first time you used a laser scanner.
Three years ago, I used an imaging laser scanner for the first time – the Leica BLK360. Prior to using laser scanning, we went to job sites and measured the space using tape and laser, a print out of the space, and a camera.

According to Kyle, this process was always stressful because it wasn’t until the team returned to the office that they would know if everything was captured or if they missed a critical dimension.

Using the BLK360, Kyle could work autonomously to take accurate measurements. His first project was a 1200 square foot storefront with 20-foot ceilings.

According to Kyle, “With the press of a single button on an iPad to initiate the scan, the BLK360 captured the detail of the space and turned the measurement data into a point cloud. Within minutes, the first scan was complete.”

Kyle could then move onto the next phase of the project, relocating the scanner to start the next scan. While the BLK360 was working on the second scan, Kyle was able to view the previous scan. As more locations were scanned, he stitched them together to get a picture of the overall space. It commented on the ease of the workflow and how it eliminates the “did I get everything?” worry that so many architects face.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an architect. For a while I wanted to be a packaging designer because I didn't realize at the time that graphic design was a broader discipline with many possibilities.

How is digital technology changing the profession?
I see digital technology as another tool. Like any other tool, it enables us to think in different ways and see new possibilities, but I think the fundamentals of architecture remain the same.


Eli Logan on Being An Architectural Designer

Eli is an architectural designer and researcher at Merge Architects. He is presently serving in the design and construction documentation phases of multi-family housing projects in Detroit, Michigan and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Concurrently, Eli is completing small scale renovations to various municipal facilities in Boston, Massachusetts. He holds a Master of Architecture II with Distinction, Architecture from Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

What do you love about being in architecture? 

I should begin with a disclaimer that, despite a decade of education and experience in the discipline, I'm not yet licensed so am not (legally) an architect. I’m currently an architectural designer. Aside from that technicality, I love the questions prompted in the architectural field; not only how something ought to be built but how we ought to live in something we build. The decisions - seemingly minute, mundane, or monumental - express and impact how we shape a society. To that end, I love the process of designing; creative, collaborative, continually challenging one to acquire and integrate new knowledge.  

Tell us about the first time you used a laser scanner.

My foray into laser scanning came during graduate thesis efforts; I had tasked myself with designing structures of straw bale and a corresponding argument about the conventions of architectural representation. The traditional tools of orthographic projection - and contemporary computational platforms built upon them -  resort to abstract or analogous methods to draw or image something as unruly, irregular, or as a straw bale. Laser scanning offered the prospect of an alternative kind of representation based upon resolution. While my initial bale scans were nothing more than computer-crashing clouds and million-faceted meshes, developing workflows and discovering the capabilities of this 'resolving' method in the context of documentation and design continues to fascinate me.   

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

While my parents and much younger self recall more grandiose professional aims (baseball player, rock star, lawyer), my longtime desire - and my sixth grade yearbook will back me up on this -  has been to become an architect. Per my earlier disclaimer, I'm still not formally an architect so can perhaps interpret this to mean that I'm still 'growing up'. While I've been fortunate to pursue and remain focused on this goal, I also appreciate that the architectural field - in both practice and pedagogy - intersects with so many others: art, engineering, ecology, philosophy, sociology, archaeology, the list goes on. I'm prone to long walks down any number of these tangential disciplinary paths in hopes of finding the point where they rejoin the architectural one. 

How is digital technology changing the profession? 

A great question, perhaps better answered by one whose career has spanned still greater development in the realm of the digital. While several semesters of my architectural studies were strictly analog (or by hand), all of my professional experience has been dependent upon computation. With that in mind, my impression is that there are simultaneously many new - or newly accessible - digital tools impacting architectural processes (I think especially of digital fabrication, laser scanning) and a perceived stabilizing set of workaday tools (I think of the two decades of BIM, nearly four of CAD, etc.).  Perhaps this is simply two attitudes or interpretations of digital technology, with one more consistent with advancing and advocating for digital tools to play a larger role in bridging between design and construction or even automating parts of these processes and the other committed to retaining aspects of authorship, craft, and the embodied aspects of architecture seemingly at odds with these capabilities. Regardless, I think these oppositional attitudes and the spectrum in between attest to the reality that it is ultimately not the technology but the role of those critical thinking about the technology that will determine the continued impact of the digital on the profession. 

As we come to the end of another Archtober, we’re looking forward to seeing what 2021 brings in architecture and design.

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