Property Brothers, Jonathon and Drew Scott, are jumping from the fire of the small screen into the frying pan of real estate development and custom homebuilding with their latest venture, Dream Homes by Scott Living.

Lucy Cohen Blatter, of Mansion Global, has more in an exclusive interview with the brothers:

Jonathan, a professional contractor, takes care of construction and design, while Drew, a licensed broker, manages the selling on their shows. But the brothers have moved their empire beyond the small screen. In 2015, they launched Scott Living, a home furnishings and decor line.

And at the beginning of this year, they moved into the luxury marketplace, announcing the launch of Dream Homes by Scott Living, which invites luxury home buyers to purchase home designs created by them. Clients can shop from a portfolio and customize layouts to suit their needs, a trend that is becoming more popular. They decided to launch the company “to showcase another passion of ours,” they told Mansion Global, “creating one-of-a-kind dream homes on an epic scale.”

The interview covers a range of topics, but one thing that jumped out at me was when Drew was asked what he considered the most important amenity to include in a modern luxury home:

Smart tech. This can tie into literally any aspect of your home to make life more enjoyable… Technology is revolutionizing what it means to have a little luxury in our closets. Software that lets you scroll through visuals of all your shoes, accessories and outfits. If you can’t see it, you won’t wear it! Even cameras that give you a 360 degree view of your outfits in a full length interactive mirror.

So, there’s that.

Skilled labor shortages in the construction trades have had a major impact on the industry.  It drives costs up, can result in delays, but worst of all, it threatens the integrity of the built environment.

Perhaps the biggest issue contributing to the skilled labor shortages is the lack of young people entering the industry. For the past several decades in the US, educators have strongly pushed students away from vocational training and skill development to focus on college prep as the exclusive option following graduation from high school.

That isn’t likely to change anytime soon. The next problem the construction industry has in terms of skilled labor is how to train and educate those that do find themselves in the trades. And for that, most education techniques still go back to hundreds of years ago when guilds ruled various trades and workers apprenticed under masters to learn on the job.

That’s why I think this 360 VR video from the Eastern Illinois University represents what the future of education looks like for the construction industry:

To view the video properly, you’ll need the Chrome web browser on a computer, or use VR goggles with your mobile device.

Consulting is, in my opinion, one of the most noble professions that exists. Sadly, too many freelancers, subcontractors and outsourced laborers have diluted the meaning of the word “consultant.” For the purposes of this article, let’s agree that the true definition of a consultant is a professional who leverages many years of experience, knowledge, and training, often applying their own unique intellectual property, in order to improve their client’s outcome in a given situation.

So without clients, a consultant is actually just a pundit.

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to being successful as a consultant, therefore, is attracting clients and winning assignments.

Merilee Kern, writing for the Innovation Enterprise Strategy blog, observed the following:

But, even in a trade that’s rife with profit potential, actually earning that pot of gold can be extraordinarily difficult given there are two-plus million consultants, coaches, trainers, and similar professionals all fighting to find clients, win projects and make a living. Roughly half of these consultants are solo practitioners or in boutique firms—and the sad reality is most boutique consulting firms are perpetually six months away from bankruptcy. Their ‘new business procurement’ engine sputters along resulting in a persistent struggle to grow larger, while solo consultants capture average annual revenue under $70,000 (compared to $250,000 per consultant across the entire industry). To explore this disconnect, I connected with David A. Fields, author of ‘The Executive’s Guide to Consultants,’ and the soon-to-be-released follow-up title, ‘ The Irresistible Consultant’s Guide to Winning Clients .’ Himself a multi-million-dollar-earning independent consultant, this ‘expert’s expert’ has some sage advice on how people can realize success in the consulting trade—a profession, he concedes, that can be ‘as problematic as it is profitable.’ Since Fields has coached hundreds of successful consultants and other independent practitioners around the world on how to ‘make it rain,’ I asked him the obvious question: ‘Why do so many struggle in this field?’ Quite unequivocally, he asserted that too many consultants—the majority, in fact—are completely missing the mark with respect to their baseline approach and overarching mindset. To help give independent consultants a clearer path to that coveted yet elusive goal of financial freedom through what ‘could’ be a lifestyle-friendly career, here are six of Fields’ pragmatic, eye-opening tips:

  1. Think Right-Side Up
  2. Maximize Impact
  3. Build Visibility
  4. Connect, Connect, Connect
  5. Become the Obvious Choice
  6. Propose, Negotiate & Close

Make sure to read the full article for detailed explanations of Fields’ tips for closing more business as a consultant.

Architecture, as a profession, bears quite a few similarities to the consulting profession. Chief among those commonalities is the “feast or famine” cycle — there always seems to be either too much work to handle, or nothing but the sound of crickets. The same paradigm applies to that exalted class of designers known as “starchitects.”

Sometimes when architects get busy, they may have the capacity for completing the required work, but may not necessarily have the time for a completely fresh and unique design. Clients want the starchitect’s stamp on the drawings for the increased market value that comes with it, and may be willing to lower their expectations if time is in short supply.

It seems that the scenario described above may be the explanation for just how “un-Gehry” the latest Frank Gehry design to be unveiled seems. The project, known as Ascend, will result in an 80,000 square foot office building in El Segundo, not far from Los Angeles International Airport. Roger Vincent, reporting for the LA Times, has more (as well as renderings):

So-called creative office buildings, usually created by upgrading old structures that have outlived their original purpose such as manufacturing, are the darlings of today’s real estate market and often command higher rents than glitzy skyscrapers do.

The $50 million building in El Segundo with one big floor containing 80,000 square feet is intentionally unassuming, the architect said in a videotaped interview.

“It’s not architectural in the sense that you are making an architectural statement,” Gehry said. “It is really creating an environment that energizes and promotes interactivity in a less formal way.”

Not sure if I buy that statement. Commissioning Gehry to design a 1-story, open floor plan office building contained within a relatively unimaginative plain box for some reason seems akin to hiring Salvador Dalí to paint a fence.

All this week I’ve been observing destructive testing at a high rise. At a building across the street, workers are taking down scaffolding from a 20+ story condo project after repairs were made to the building’s exterior.

More than a few times over the past several days my colleagues and I have observed workers not tied off to proper fall protection performing extreme acrobatic feats while carrying fairly large and unwieldy sections of scaffolding using both hands.

Watching these hard working folks putting their life on the line with every step has been eye-opening  and terrifying, while at the same time providing me a real sense of gratitude that my job isn’t nearly as risky.

And then I saw this: 

(Via Construction Junkie)

Construction Dive’s Kim Slowey reports that stachitect Bjarke Ingels’ firm, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), has made quite the strategic move:

BIG is nothing if not innovative, so there’s no doubt the architecture firm will be able to amp up its edgy creations with the addition of an in-house engineering unit. BIG said the new division will also work with its BIG Ideas research group, which helped develop the concept behind Copenhagen’s Bakke Waste-to-Energy Plant.

Ingels has long been one of my favorite living architects, and his innovative thinking clearly isn’t limited to design, but also firm management.

Smart homes of the future may just as readily respond to instructions sent by text, as the voice-powered interfaces that dominate the early entrants to the market for the Internet of Things in the home. Amazon, Google and Apple all have technologies largely relying on speech recognition, but as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg discovered after installing an extremely sophisticated voice-powered smart home system, not everyone is comfortable with that style of user interface.

Jeremy Wagstaff, writing for Reuters:

Facebook (FB.O) founder Mark Zuckerberg, for example, was working on Jarvis, his own voice-powered AI home automation, and found he preferred communicating by text because, he wrote, “mostly it feels less disturbing to people around me.”

A small Singapore-based firm called Unified Inbox is working on the challenge:

At Unified Inbox, Ruckert looks ahead to being able to communicate not only with one’s own appliances, but with machines elsewhere. Bosch executives in Singapore, for example, have demonstrated how a user could ask a smart CCTV camera how many people were in a particular room.

As famous inventor James Dyson stated in a recent interview:

For me, the future is making everything happen for you without you being particularly involved in it.

Who even knew that there was a contest to see who can demolish stuff the best? Canadian firm Priestly Demolition, Inc. (PDI) won the 2016 World Demolition Award for best project for their masterful work on a project in Ontario, Canada.

Due to environmental concerns, a bridge needed to be removed without using explosives. In just a week’s time, braving subzero temperatures, PDI successfully dismantled the bridge. Construction Junkie’s Shane Hedmond has more:

The original Nipigon River Bridge was constructed in 1937 as a simple steel deck truss bridge. 37 years later, in 1974, steel girders replaced the truss and it had remained the same ever since. In 2013, a $106 project was started that would replace the old bridge with a new 4 lane bridge and close down the old one. PDI was contracted as the demolition company responsible for removing the old bridge.

The Nipigon River is the largest tributary of Lake Superior and, because of that, there were many environmental concerns for the river wildlife and surrounding habitats. Not only that, but the company had to worry about the recently constructed first half of the new bridge which sat directly adjacent to the old bridge. The old bridge stood 100 feet (30m) above the water and spanned 827 feet (252 meters). Without being able to disturb the water below, the team ultimately decided to jack the bridge up and use hydraulic rollers to move the girders off of the supporting piers and onto land.

Without further ado, I present a 24-minute long video produced by PDI showing the process in depth:

Microsoft’s HoloLens is yet another entrant in the race for virtual/mixed/augmented reality domination. Via the Microsoft website:

World-famous architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha has expressed his delight after Microsoft and Trimble helped to recreate some of his most well-known buildings using HoloLens.

The 88-year-old Brazilian said it was “fantastic” that he could see his creations using Microsoft’s mixed-reality headset, which places computer-generated holograms in the real world.

Mendes da Rocha’s designs were recreated using Trimble’s SketchUp, before being uploaded to SketchUp Viewer for HoloLens, the first commercial app for HoloLens available via the Microsoft Store.

Here’s a short video:

Bryan Clark, via The Next Web:

After five years of fighting to increase profits, J.C. Penney is shutting down 130 stores nationwide. For one California startup — and anyone who’s been inside J.C. Penney lately — this didn’t come as a surprise.

Orbital Insight, a venture-funded startup in Palo Alto, uses satellite imagery to track the health of major retailers by analyzing car groupings in the parking lot. Year-over-year, J.C. Penney saw a five percent decrease in the number of cars parked outside, and down over 10 percent for Q1 so far, according to Orbital Insight.

The Outline’s Adrienne Jeffries has more:

The number of cars in J.C. Penney lots was down 5 percent year-over-year in Q4 of 2016, and is down 10 percent year-over-year for Q1 so far, Orbital Insight said.

Orbital Insight, a venture capital-funded satellite intelligence startup based in Palo Alto, tracks 250,000 parking lots for 96 retail chains across the U.S.