From October 18 to 19, 2023, several esteemed members from DIALOG took centre stage at this year’s highly anticipated BUILDEX Alberta conference in Calgary. Among them were John Souleles, Partner, Architect; Tai Ziola, Partner, Architect; Greg Widmeyer, Director of Technology; Megan Brooks, Associate, Leader of Design Technology; Krigh Bachmann, Associate, Leader of Digital Innovation; Stephanie Fargas, Associate, Specifier; David Pesta, Associate, Structural Engineer; and Kyle Auch, Associate, Architect. Each presented thought-provoking sessions.
For more than 20 years, BUILDEX has been providing essential continuing education, new product sourcing, and networking opportunities for Alberta’s building and construction industry. The conference brings together colleagues, influencers, and industry peers from across the AEC profession for two days of educational seminars, panels, keynotes, workshops, and live demonstrations on the latest technologies and innovations.
Here are the highlights from each presenter’s session:
Practical Guidelines & Best Practices for Specifying Low Carbon Concrete, with Stephanie Fargas and David Pesta
Stephanie Fargas, an Associate and specifier who is one of the youngest registered female specifiers in Canada, presented alongside David Pesta, an Associate and structural engineer with extensive knowledge in fiber-reinforced concrete and a passion for increasing the use of sustainable materials.
In this session, they spoke about the best practices for specifying low-carbon concrete, specifically highlighting the importance of setting emissions benchmarks early in the project design. By doing so, clients will understand the potential energy savings, and project teams could use these benchmarks to track and analyze outcomes and propose efficient solutions.
Life Cycle Assessments: Current Gaps & Future Trends, with Stephanie Fargas
In the session “Life Cycle Assessments: Current Gaps & Future Trends”, Stephanie Fargas explored real-world cases focused on data utilization and the potential to drive significant carbon reductions with the aid of advanced software tools. She provided insight into conducting a Life Cycle Assessment and shared information and tools to radically reduce embodied carbon from buildings and infrastructure.
Creating Safe Spaces for Indigenous Students: Three Perspectives, with Tai Ziola
Tai Ziola, Partner and architect, discussed the DIALOG-designed kihêw waciston Indigenous Student Centre at MacEwan University, highlighting the mindset shift she experienced away from her Western culture to effectively engage with the Indigenous way of knowing and being. Tai shared her experiences and what she learned from the community and how they were woven into the fabric of the clinic.
Architecture Keynote: Glenbow Museum Revitalization: Showcasing Calgary as an Emerging Architectural Leader, with Kyle Auch
Kyle Auch, Associate and architect, showcased Calgary’s reimagined Glenbow Museum, with a question: What story was the original Glenbow telling?
In this session, Kyle walked attendees through the physical and cultural transformation of Glenbow’s design. He noted how the pandemic accelerated the perception of art being a real service and its ability to effect real change. In collaboration with Heavy, a creative placemaking consultancy, Kyle addressed the materiality of Glenbow’s façade and how the museum is a catalyst for the transition of downtown Calgary.
Case Studies of Emissions Neutral Building Projects in Alberta, with John Souleles
John Souleles, Partner and architect, joined a panel to showcase the University of Calgary – MacKimmie Tower, a deep energy retrofit that integrates high-performance systems to reduce building emissions and operational costs. The building’s systems include rainwater reuse, 100 per cent outside air ventilation, radiant heating and cooling, daylight controls, occupancy sensors, natural ventilation, and a night flush. John addressed the importance of the building’s continuous operation and why a user manual for the building is essential even with the integration of smart building technology.
Contractors + Consultants: Building Better Together to Meaningfully Improve Our Communities, with Megan Brooks
Megan Brooks, Associate and Leader of Design Technology, presented on the concept of early adoption of new technology, emphasizing that it must be paired with a collaborative approach before engaging with consultants and contractors to eliminate silos. Megan, alongside fellow speakers, explored advanced software tools that help track progress, assign tasks, and resolve issues in real-time, as well as technologies that visualize and interact with designs in a shared space, allowing for more effective collaboration and decision-making.
Artificial Intelligence & Its Impact on Architecture & Design, with Krigh Bachmann and Greg Widmeyer
Krigh Bachmann, Associate and leader of Digital Innovation, and Greg Widmeyer, Director of Technology, presented on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its impact on architecture and design. The discussion touched on how AI will impact the generation of proposals, pre-design, schematic design, and construction documents. They explored the current and future state of AI, identifying areas where it will be most valuable to professionals in these fields while examining its influence on the lifecycle of building projects. They also presented steps on how to use AI seamlessly and responsibly in an organizational setting.