Six Moments Over Five Years That Helped Define the BuiltWorlds Summit.

Today marks the start of our fifth annual US Summit, and though we are holding the five day event digitally this week, the rationale for the event is as strong as ever. There are many other Built World industry events and networks, just as there were when we launched the Summit five years ago. So, why BuiltWorlds? What is it about the BuiltWorlds Network and our Summit that has made us different from so many other industry groups? As we look to the future and the changes in front of us, let’s understand the uniqueness of BuiltWorlds’ exploration through a look at some key moments in our Summits over the years.

 1.Breaking Down Silos, Finding Insights in the “Cracks” Between Them: Future Architecture at Summit 2016

We are called BuiltWorlds for a reason. When we first started receiving inquiries from our blog posts back in 2014, it became apparent that the interest in making our Building and Infrastructure industry much better, came from people from a broad range of backgrounds who, although feeling deeply interconnected, were not having robust conversations with one another about how to accomplish their goals. Technologists, investors, architects, engineers, general contractors, specialty contractors, financial and risk services companies, tools and equipment companies, products and materials and other players surfaced with surprisingly similar interests, unique and valuable perspectives, and yet with little knowledge of or contact with the other stakeholders around the table.

Pictured above is a Andrew Balster, then with Archeworks,,  Neil Katz of  Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) and Tim Swanson, then with CannonDesign engaged in a frank discussion about the challenges and opportunities in the architecture profession in the face of change.

It was a little like the proverbial blind men and the elephant, each expert grasping a different part of the industry and, therefore, offering a different diagnoses. We developed the name BuiltWorlds as a reference to the fact that a fundamental part of our mission was to help foster dialogue and connection across and between these disparate groups – as peers in the network – so that, together, we might better see and understand the whole elephant. The Summit became a place where we made a deliberate effort to bring all those players together.

2. Recognizing that our Tools, Equipment, and Fabrication Shops Matter as Much as our Software and BIM Groups: Scott Peterson of Construction Robotics present “SAM” at Summit 2016. 

While most technology-centric networks and conferences prior to 2016 focused on software, delivering buildings and infrastructure is an intensely physical undertaking. At BuiltWorlds, intent on treating the “whole patient,” we recognized early in our exploration that software, alone, would not lead us to step-change productivity and quality gains, particularly in a tightening and increasingly costly labor environment. So, we embraced construction equipment, tools, and robotics – both in the field and in the shop – as a core area of our exploration, inseparable from the software discussions. With that, we were honored to feature Scott Peterson of Construction Robotics at our first Summit, back in 2016.


3. Welcoming the Industry’s Leading CEOs to the Conversation: Tom Scarangello, CEO of Thornton Thomasetti at Summit 2017

Real Change cannot happen without the support of the CEO’s who lead the industry’s largest organizations. Early on, there was a constant charge that those CEO’s, older and more risk averse, were not supportive of actual change in the industry. We know this assertion was false because we could see significant engagement from the c-suite of the larger companies, and we decided that the Summit should be a place for the industry’s CEOs to learn, connect, and share their perspective, along side others in the community. In this 2017 Summit talk, Tom Scarangello of  Thornton Thomasetti offers his perspective.

3. Helping Members get to know Members Across Mediums: 2018 Blue Carpet Interviews

From our original blog to our social media, BuiltWorlds has always been about helping our members get to know one another in order to create a more powerful network of change agents who could look to each other as helpful resources. A creature of the digital age, when we shared our thoughts, people shared back, and no medium was more powerful for helping us help all of you get to know each other than video. Here is a short illustration featuring members from companies like Adam Cohen of Skur, Chase Gilbert of Built Technologies, Michael Lawrence of True Autonomy, Roger Krulak of FullStack Modular, Gil Mildworth of siteAware, Chris Giattina of Blox, and Danielle Dy Buncio of VIATechnik.

4.  Recognizing, Supporting the Change Agents:The 2019 Maverick Awards

Taking a recalcitrant industry in a new direction can be a lonely and challenging road. The naysayers and early disbelievers are everywhere. It can be discouraging and draining to try to take the industry somewhere it is not ready to go. However, without these passionate trailblazers, progress is virtually impossible. Our Mavericks award is our attempt to recognize people like the winners pictured below – Roger Krulik of Full Stack Modular, Steve Muck of Advanced Construction Robotics, and Shane Matthews of IRISVR who have challenged our industry to think about the boundaries of high rise modularization, robotics, and AR/VR, respectively. Without those who truly commit to a vision of the industry before others do, the industry would be challenged to progress.

5.  Embracing The Global Community: Summit 2019 Interview With WakeCap’s Hassan Albalawi

We believe in the insights that can be gained by facilitating the exchange of ideas across the global built world ecosystem. We have found surprising differences and striking similarities. Different challenges and environments in different places around the world mean certain solutions take hold more quickly in certain places, but, fundamentally our challenges are the same, globally. So, a break through in one region can mean a profound learning opportunity for the rest of the ecosystem, and BuiltWorlds is there to help you meet your peers around the world and share what has been learned in order to fuel our gains, globally. Below is Hassan Albalawi of WakeCap’s interview from last year’s Summit, sharing some of what he sees in the Middle East with our many North American members.