Monday, August 14, 2017

Reflecting on BILT-NA 2017 in Toronto Canada

The BILT-NA 2017 conference in Toronto, Canada is now behind us. In this post I will share some highlights using the wonderful professional photographs provided to attendees by BILT and captured by SKYART MEDIA. If you have never been to an RTC/BILT conference, I highly recommend you get it on your radar for next year. Or even better, sign up for BILT-EUR 2017 in Aarhus, Denmark later this year (Oct. 5-6, 2017) like me!

The setting for the conference was spectacular; Toronto, at the Westin Harbour Castle, nestled along the shoreline of Lake Ontario. You have to love the ocean-like presence of the massive freshwater lakes the make up the Great Lakes... btw, I live on the even larger Lake Superior. The location was reminiscent of the previous 2013 Canadian conference in Vancouver; at a Westin, on a shoreline with a vibrant lakewalk.


I hope everyone who went had a change to...
walk over to St. Lawrence Market. It was ranked the world's best food market by National Geographic. I did, and it was definitely worthy of the title.


The conference space was on-site at the Westin. The classrooms were split between the main hotel building and a dedicated conference facility across the street. The nice thing about this is we got to see a lot more daylight while traversing the pedestrian bridge shown in the next two images.


Three times, during the conference, the entire group assembled to hear opening and closing comments as well as a special presentation by Anthony Hauck, plus the crowd pleasing Glorious Gadgets session lead by committee members Nicholas Kramer and Desiree Mackey.

Anthony spoke about the work his group at Autodesk is doing in generative design and also gave us a sneak peak at an AI component! Two words: scary cool!

During the opening session, Andrew Rink from NVIDIA had the opportunity to talk about what they are working on as a major sponsor of the conference. On a side note, I worked with Andrew when NVIDIA was writing a customer case study on our VR work; How VR Is Helping Revitalize Downtown Duluth.

Sean Young introduced HP's new VR backpack and their new competition "Reinvent Life on Mars". Read more about that here: Click here to learn more.

I was not able to attend a lab, but thought I would include one picture. When signing up for a lab you could sit at a provided computer or in an area called the gallery. The gallery had power and a place to use your own computer if desired.

Here is a pic where I am taking a question in the What's New in Revit 2018 session I did with Clay Hickling (Clay is a BILT-ANZ committee member).

The infamous Marcello Sgamelluri gave an exciting presentation, along with Don Bookmiller, on VR in the structural and MEP realm. These guys have been discussing this session on the Simply Complex podcast over the last few months. FYI: I just recorded a podcast session with Marcello, so stay tuned for that:)

Heather Lech, from Autodesk, ran an interesting session were attendees could create a new feature in Revit. This gave attendees insight into how Autodesk runs user experience workshops to develop new functionality within Revit. This is similar to the breakout sessions I participated in while at Revit Live: Inside the Factory in Shanghai China last year.

BILT-NA's new fearless leader Robert Bell on the main stage...

Autodesk's Sasha Crotty also had the opportunity to address the entire group. She used this time to talk about the things being developed in and around the Revit ecosystem. She mentioned Mortenson's work on the Minnesota Vikings stadium, a successful project in my "backyard".


During the glorious gadgets session, we got to say hello to Paul F. Aubin who was not able to attend the conference this year. He appeared via a robotic telepresence unit! Here we see Paul chill'n with Brian Mackey.

The exhibit hall had a lot of great vendors. Here is Jon Atkinson from Cad Technology Center talking to Brian Brinkley. I have been working with Jon over the last several months on a new product; MEP Productivity Pack (along with another BILT-NA speaker, Blake Guither from Gausman and Moore).

Here is a nice photo of Alfredo Medina who is a knowledge-sharing legend on the forums. I had a chance to chat with him and hear about the amazing project his is currently working on.

The next image is of me and Matt Kincaid, from Lighting Analysts, presenting on light fixture families.

The telepresense unit was used by Chris Needham, to present from Australia, on his firm's recent work at the Sydney Opera House. I had seen this presentation before, but did not catch this "special" version.

Like me, Desiree and Brian Mackey often bring their kids to the conferences. I think our families have crossed paths in four countries now! Some of the older kids were put to work at the conference, like the Read and Vandzande kids.

Speaking of my family, here is a pic of us at a French restaurant, Le Select, in Toronto.

The wonderful Heidi Lam, longtime RTC Events planner, had an medical complication and could not be at the conference. Thoughtfully, Robert Bell had the entire group make the heart symbol with their hands for a photo to let her know we miss her and hope she recovers quickly. I just want to add that Heidi has been super helpful over the years. She even gave my family a tip on a cool little zoo, near where she lives, in Sydney while we were there for an RTC conference last year!

The man who started it all... the RTC/BILT founder Wesley Benn. In an unusual turn of events, he still had his voice at the end of the conference.

My co-speaker for the lighting class... Matt is showing an attendee what ElumTools can do at their booth in the exhibit hall.

A large group photo of all attendees, speakers, exhibitors and the committee members in the exhibit hall.

There are several evening functions I did not attend as my family was with me. So I did not include any of those photos.

In closing, this conference offers a nice focused opportunity for like-minded designers to get together and share knowledge. At just over 500 people registered, this smaller venue provides a great opportunity to chat with people working on some amazing things. And not just in the classrooms, but in the hallways, provided meals and evening functions. If you have never attended one, I highly recommend you give it a try. Next year's conference will be in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, at the historic Hilton union Station.

I wrote another related post; BILT-NA 2017 Toronto Canada; Day One.

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