What Does Katerra Mean by 'Integrated Design'?

Originally published by: IWBCSeptember 23, 2019

The following article was produced and published by the source linked to above, who is solely responsible for its content. SBC Magazine is publishing this story to raise awareness of information publicly available online and does not verify the accuracy of the author’s claims. As a consequence, SBC cannot vouch for the validity of any facts, claims or opinions made in the article.

Editor’s Note: SBCA is collaborating with Forest Economic Advisors (FEA) on its Industrialized Wood-Based Construction Conference (IWBC). SBCA is a sponsor for the November 4-6 event hosted at the Westin Boston Waterfront hotel in Boston, MA. SBCA and the IWBC are working together to highlight the benefits of structural component systems (such as reduced construction cycle times) and where they provide great economic solutions for emerging construction techniques, which include mass timber, CLT, offsite framing, and modular construction. The article below is an example of a trend in construction projects the conference seeks to highlight.

The lead architect at Katerra, the Silicon Valley startup that aims to revolutionize home building, has joined five other renowned industry experts who will deliver keynote addresses at the Industrialized Wood-Based Construction (IWBC) Conference in Boston on Nov. 4-6, IWBC’s organizers announced.

Katerra Architecture President Craig Curtis will share the stage with real estate consultant John Burns, BIM pioneer Phil Bernstein, innovative construction expert Robert Hairstans, visionary architect George Legendre, and construction finance expert Margaret Whelan. (See keynoter profiles.) Backing up those six are several dozen breakout speakers, enhancing IWBC’s reputation as wood-based construction’s most content-rich gathering. (See agenda.)

By bringing together leading-edge companies and thinkers from around the world, IWBC uniquely focuses on how to employ the processes and products that revolutionize how we build. These practical visionaries will reveal how to use mass timber, modular construction, building information modeling (BIM), artificial intelligence, robotics, and other advances to erect buildings that go up faster, perform better, and are comparatively cheaper than what’s commonly put up today.

“Curtis and all our other keynote speakers combine enlightened thinking about construction’s potential future with a clear-eyed view of where we are today,” said Art Schmon, IWBC’s managing director and a principal at Forest Economic Advisors, the consultancy that launched the conference in 2018. “They’ll tell you what it will take for the industry to embrace the new products and techniques emerging in wood-based construction. They help fulfill IWBC’s goal of going beyond just touting construction’s new world by providing a map for getting there.”

While other industries have made quantum leaps in productivity, construction is stuck in the 1950s. Now, in this age of labor shortages, rapidly growing demand, and a crisis in affordable housing, the construction industry is getting desperate for a solution. That solution is wood-based offsite construction.

Wood-based offsite construction is less dependent on skilled trades and can be built in a fraction of the time required for reinforced concrete, steelframed structures, and stick-built homes. It also wastes less raw materials, provides safer working conditions, and can help make housing more affordable.

As Schmon puts it: “We don’t build cars in our driveways. Why do we do that with houses?”

Katerra exemplifies the innovators who are exploiting those changes. The vertically integrated company employs experts in technology, manufacturing, design, and engineering who seek to make every aspect of construction more efficient and cost-effective. The company has one production facility in Arizona up and running, another in Northern California set to go live soon, and a third in Texas in the permitting stage. It also is building a cross-laminated timber mill in Washington state. The Katerra logo can be seen at projects from coast to coast, and press reports suggest its revenues could top $2 billion this year.

Curtis is an expert at integrated design approaches. He brings to Katerra 30 years as a partner with Miller Hull, whose projects include the Bullitt Center (the world’s first commercial office building to meet the requirements of the Living Building Challenge) and the replacement of the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry (the world’s busiest border crossing).

Representatives of more than 200 companies from several dozen countries attended IWBC last year. This year’s conference will take place on Nov. 4-6 at the Westin Boston Waterfront. To see the agenda, register and get information about exhibiting, visit www.iwbcc.com.