118: ‘The Development of Autodesk Forma’, with Carl Christensen

A conversation with Carl Christensen.

118: ‘The Development of Autodesk Forma’, with Carl Christensen

Carl Christensen of Autodesk joins the podcast to talk about the development of Forma and their focus on the early phases of the design process for better design outcomes. We talk about how his startup (originally Spacemaker AI) evolved into Forma, the use of AI as an assistant to designers rather than a replacement, and the potential for AI to help with rapid simulations and analysis. We also discuss the benefits of live collaboration, real time access to data, the openness of the platform, and about how Forma is expected to evolve after this first release.

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118: ‘The Development of Autodesk Forma’, with Carl Christensen
Carl Christensen of Autodesk joins the podcast to talk about the development of Forma and their focus on the early phases of the design process for better de…

Episode Transcript

118: ‘The Development of Autodesk Forma’, with Carl Christensen


Evan Troxel: [00:00:00] Welcome to the TRXL podcast. I'm Evan Troxel. This is the podcast where I have conversations with guests from the architectural community and beyond to talk about the co-evolution of architecture and technology. 

In this episode, I welcome Carl Christensen. He has a goal of deeply improving the way cities are built all over the world, which led him to co-found Spacemaker AI.

A cloud-based AI platform that helps urban designers and architects discover smarter ways to maximize the potential of a building site. With the acquisition of the company in 2020, Carl joined Autodesk in the role of Vice president of product. In his current role, he is pursuing his mission of improving the way cities are built all over the world.

Carl holds master's degrees in both computer science and business administration, and has more than 15 years of experience building software. Leading teams and experimenting with how AI can help support and improve different workflows and processes for better and more sustainable [00:01:00] outcomes. In this episode, we discuss the importance of focusing on the early phases of the design process, using AI as an assistant to designers rather than as a replacement, the potential for AI to help with rapid simulations and analysis.

Why the team chose to go with the benefits of live interactions and access to data, which naturally leads to the need for a constant internet connection versus having the ability to work offline and how form is expected to evolve after this first release. This was a fantastic conversation with Carl and I hope that you get as much out of it as I did.

So without further ado, I bring you my conversation with Carl Christensen.

Carl, thanks for joining me today. 

Carl Christensen: Thank you. Glad to be here.

Evan Troxel: Yeah, and congratulations on the release of Forma. I know this is probably a, a big deal, but it's also kind of the first step. What, what we would call a first step, [00:02:00] you know, in the, into this very, what I assume is gonna be a long journey. So before we get to that, maybe let's go back to where this chapter began, uh, for you, because I know you've been working on this for a long time.

This is one of those things where it's like all of a sudden there's this new thing, but let's talk about what it took to get to here.

Carl Christensen: Yeah, so, um, yeah, it, it has been a long time coming and, and, uh, even though this, uh, release is kind of a first iteration, um, it, it is, I'm, I'm not counting iterations anymore, but it, there has been some iterations, right? And, um,

for me, it started back in, in 2016. Um, I, I've been building software products, uh, for most of my career, but I've been building it in other industries.

So I, I had no previous connection with AEC when I met up with, uh, or, um, a friend of mine, um, [00:03:00] Anders Kale, uh, who ended up being one of the other founders of, of, uh, Spacemaker. And he introduced me to, uh, Harvard, uh, who's an architect, uh, who had been working as an architect for a couple years and was being, getting really frustrated with, with, uh, the processes or the things he, he felt that he had to kind of, uh, uh, put up with in, in his processes.

And, and, uh, he thought that there must be a better way and we started talking about it. And, uh, me coming from other, uh, uh, kind of, I, I worked with a lot of different industries that you could consider. Kind of, uh, established and not necessarily fast moving like finance and, and insurance and that kind of thing, and, and a lot of government.

But, um, what he described as, as the challenges that he had and the way he was working made me believe that he had to be some, uh, uh, um, that he wasn't doing it right, or there must be something wrong with the way he [00:04:00] was doing it, but it, because it sounded so difficult. 

And, so, there, there were so many different kind of childness, right?

It was kind of felt like everything was kind of wrong, , or that, and there were, there were so many things you could improve. And coming from the outside with that kind of, um, a little bit of a naive mindset, right? That that, that there must be something wrong here. Um, I think was a, was a good starting point to have.

Um, because you know, when you learn more and when you do more iterations, you realize there are good reasons for many of those things. But, uh, if you want to make changes, you also want need to believe that there are, that it is possible to, to do things in a new way. Right? So, so, uh, trying to kind of make the long story short, I'm, I'm sure we can dive more into it we developed this, this diagnosis, I guess you could say, uh, that, um, the, the part of this problem that there are many things you can address, right?

But, um, we considered [00:05:00] that the way, people were working with figuring out what to build, like figuring out what to solve for, it created a lot of gaps. and a lot of lost opportunity. So, so, so what we observed was that, most of the cost and most of the investment to reduce, um, risk or to produce output, uh, is done in the construction phase. And, um, at that point, uh, most of the, are kind of defining, uh, priorities and choices, uh, are set. And if you figure out in that phase that, uh, you've, you've done something that, uh, has consequences that, that you maybe didn't want, uh, is very hard to change in the early phase. Uh, on the contrary, you don't spend that much time, and you don't have that much money, but you end up inadvertently making a lot of choices. With, with very little information that sets the premise for [00:06:00] that later phase. 

And that was very, our inter intuition, what the, that, that, uh, people weren't kind of realizing the potential of making better choices, uh, early, seeing the consequences or kind of bearing the fruits of that in the later phase by having a better starting point or, or having accounting for, for more of the things that you want.

So, so we kind of, evolved that, that thinking and, and it, it has been a challenge even through these kind of, um, iterations that we've done to people, for people to kind of realize that this is a problem. Because since the, the, the early phase industry isn't really costing anyone much, it's, it's not necessarily perceived as a challenge.

and this, increasing complexity that at least, we saw then and I think is a, is a, is an even bigger problem now that the, the needs of, not only, owners right there, there's a lot of, there's a lot of, uh, different stakeholders that has specific requirements and whether it be [00:07:00] cost or Sony requirements or sustainability requirements, there's, there's a, a kind of societal need for managing growth in cities and managing, creating better cities and more affordable housing, et cetera.

is all kind of connected. And it's very hard. It's very hard. It's a very hard problem to fix. and I don't think, we're doing, or the way we're approaching it is the, is the. In any way, kind of the that solves everything, but it's, it, it really feels incredibly impactful to look at how one can, uh, extract the outcomes that people are seeking at an earlier phase and give them answers about what that might look like or the consequences that that might have at a later phase.

so, so that was kind of, that's, that's been the journey and it, it started as, uh, a startup that, that, as I [00:08:00] mentioned, me and Anderson Howard started that we call Spacemaker that was trying to be pretty literal about what we were doing. and since we figured that to make it easier for people to make these choices, we had to do a lot of heavy lifting for them.

we, that we needed to use. a lot of, technology, and, and AI to, to do that, uh, which was what we call the company Spacemaker AI at the outset. So that's kind of where, where it started and, and, I think, I could go into more of the iterations, but I, I think that's, we could touch on many different aspects.

So what's been difficult and what is difficult now, and, and how that journey will look going forward, if you'd like. But I where it started.

Evan Troxel: It's interesting to hear that you didn't come from AEC, and so you kind of dove into aec, and I'm just wondering what that experience was like for you because. there's this expectation out there, and you talked a little bit about it, like this increasing complexity, managing that complexity and what the needs are for at a societal level. [00:09:00] And also just the expectations that owners who are basically consumers of architecture on some level, uh, they're paying for these projects and they have expectations about what's possible. They have expectations, uh, based on other industries that surround architecture. You know, we see technology impacting us in so many other industries, and I think that there's just kind of this general sense that all of the industries are progressing at the same rate. And so those expectations from other industries get applied to AEC as well. And I think it's kind of shocking to find out, That it is lagging behind, right? We've all seen the McKinsey charts that talk about productivity gains or, you know, stagnation over the last, what, 40 years in eight in the construction sector. And I mean, I don't, I don't know how realistic those are. I think working in the profession, we definitely see productivity gains, but we also see the offset of the increasing [00:10:00] complexity that has to go into every project. And so that, I think, does start to cancel out those productivity gains on some level. Uh, and so I, I'm just wondering from your perspective coming into this industry, how shocking was that for you? I mean, did you see it more as opportunity or are you like, oh man, what did I get myself into here?

Carl Christensen: Um, that, that, um, that's an excellent question. And, uh, first of all, I think you're right that, that, that it's, it's a canceling out that's kind of the, the main driver of this kind of, when you look at it in a chart and it looks like you guys are, are kind of going backwards in time. Right. That's probably not accurate.

And , uh, and, uh, it is not, it's not like people are slower kind of on doing the exact same thing than they were in the 1950s. But, the development and the advancement of technology in other industries does drive expectation of change, [00:11:00] right. And, and the pace of change in the world drives those expectations.

And, and it's kind of an inevitability. And, and, and, and I think a lot of those demands that we're seeing are good demands. Like they're. Wanting to, to account for leaving qualities, better living qualities, and, and, and, and accounting for the people around, um, the, the new developments. Um, and, and, and accounting for the climate effect of, um, or kind of managing climate, um, when building all these things are valuable, right? It's just that I think when the society wasn't accustomed to technology, we, we didn't think that we could do those things. Uh, but now we kind of expect, like you said, but getting back to your, your question, I, I think I alluded to it a little bit, um, when I talked about how I kind of got into starting to ask Howard about how these things worked, right?

That [00:12:00] I was kind of incredulous. I, I, I didn't think that, It could be possible that this was, uh, that this was the way, like I accepted first okay, that these guys are working like that, right? And that there must be someone else that's, that's doing something, um, differently, uh, and radically differently. But I also realized, you know, um, I'm, I'm from Norway and, and, and we started talking about this in Norway, and, um, that's a very digitized country, one of the most digitized in the world.

And, and also for this industry, it's a very kind of digitally forward leaning, place in the world also for aec, which is possibly also one of the reasons why it was a pretty good place to get early adopters of what we did. But I, I couldn't, like, I spent, um, several months trying to get my head around whether this was an insurmountable challenge or an opportunity, and

Evan Troxel: Mm-hmm. 

Carl Christensen: I'm not sure I've completely figured that out yet. Uh, but I chose to look at it as an opportunity. I chose to [00:13:00] look at it as, and, and also, uh, really, um, look at it as an opportunity to have, a real impact with technology. I think it's very rare to have with where I'm, where I'm coming from, right? Where it's all digital 

Evan Troxel: Mm-hmm. 

Carl Christensen: digital improvements that can feel very meaningful within kind of a workflow or a value chain.

But thinking about that something you do with technology can actually help, uh, a process, um, come up with better, uh, physical results of, of, uh, literally a better world, uh, was extremely motivating. So, so that was really, to me, that was kind of the underlying motivator that made it feel like we had to be able to find some way of affecting this industry and helping it. Uh, even though you, you can have kind of an ambition that is sky high, but see that even the small impact can have an incredible. Um, effect. And, [00:14:00] and also, uh, when we did a lot of research, right, and we, we talked to a lot of stakeholders and we felt that, this effect that you could have in the early phase, it, it, it kind of leapfrog the challenges of kind of better construction processes or better materials, et cetera. and we found surveys, uh, that's, that's later been kind of reinforced that over 50% of the opportunity and the risk of what what happens in construction can actually be, uh, extracted in that early phase because it's about those choices that's made.

And that felt much more accessible to us as a, uh, as kind of outsiders, at least for me as an outsider, than to go kind of go in and fix, uh, this insanely complex value chains within construction that we realized were.

kind of easier to see, uh, how much needs to change and so in, in, in so many places to really, uh, tangibly change those. So I, I guess that's kind of, I looked at it. And, and I also felt that, um, [00:15:00] you know, the more we talked to different stakeholders, architects, but also the engineers and owners, et cetera, and the projects that there, there was a strong willingness to adopt technology.

It's just that the technology and the solutions also that were trying to adopt kind of, um, help solve these problems we're also becoming more complex. So there's a, there's a kind of complexity challenge that, that we put as a, as a very strong kind of, um, part of our North Star, even though we talked about ai, right?

Um, we were. very determined to make the technology, kind of invisible and that what what we made was, should be possible to start using without training is, which is a very hard thing to do, but it's, it's been a, a very important kind of part of our, that kind of problem diagnosis, right? That the, the industry and these, actors in the industry, whether they're architects or [00:16:00] they're owners or engineers, they, they don't really, they're not looking for technology, right?

They're looking for help in, uh, getting problems out of the way and complexity out of the way for them to focus on their craft. And, that is possible, uh, if you use technology to make it simple instead of kind of showing off technology because it's cool, which is very kind of easy to, which happens with, with technology like ai, I guess.

Evan Troxel: Yeah. The technology naval gazing is, is definitely a thing that happens in this industry, but you're absolutely right with this idea of the point is to get the, barriers outta the way so that the true value of an architect can. That's where we can spend our time. That's where we need to be spending our time.

Not on these minuscule, Issues that pop up these, these problems that pop up. And so I, I, I want to get back to this part where you talked about kind of really focusing on the early part of the equation and the decisions and the things that happened [00:17:00] earlier have the bigger impact throughout the whole project. Because I, I totally agree with that. And it is something that I don't know that architects look at it that way, like you were saying, but they, they understand that when you say it out loud, right? Because everybody has been at the other end of that spectrum, which is in reaction mode, extreme reaction mode during construction, solve a problem right now, substitute this, swap that, um, we have a new problem that nobody saw coming. and because construction takes long and because you have to be so focused that it, it really takes the focus away from what if. we could have figured this all out sooner. And that idea, I, I think it's really interesting because there's been so much focus in the Revit world, right?

Of construction documentation and solving automation issues and, um, data issues and, [00:18:00] uh, making sure that things are coordinated well and clash detection and all these things that are the later phases of the project. I, you know, that they're all serving that. It is interesting that the early phases of design, have gotten a lot less love when it comes to tools, right?

And so there's just kind of the usual suspects sitting in the toolbox of the designer, which don't have, there just hasn't been as much attention there. I think it's, it's telling that. Anybody who's a designer does not want to design in Revit, and I'm generalizing here, but it's not a tool for design as much as it's a tool for documentation as much as it is a tool for, making decisions about the design as we document it.

Right. And so when you saw this opportunity to kind of go early and have a bigger impact, and focus on the earlier phases when, when you're talking about feasibility and, and, and actually being [00:19:00] able to kind of foresee the outcomes, uh, outcomes is a big word in this conversation, right? Like that's the point is to. Turn these ideas into reality, but also have an understanding of where things are going. Like you have this big picture sense the whole time, but you can focus on making the best decisions early. I, I just want to congratulate you that I don't even know what the right word is here, but it's like, I, I am so happy that you decided to focus on the early part of that equation because the tool set there, the focus hasn't been in that very much, right?

We have, we have, we have SketchUp, we've got Rhino, we had, Autodesk has FormIt, They are decision making tools, but they're also kind of a lot more generalized form making tools. And there wasn't a lot of focus placed on, the longer outcome impact of making decisions in those tools.

And so it's really interesting to me that you decided to go there first. Can you must have had your eyes [00:20:00] open when you talked to your, your, your one architect, but then also started to open that door to a lot more architects to really see their design process.

There's must have been something there that kind of catalyzed it for you that No, we have to focus on the early phases of the design process.

Carl Christensen: yes. there were, and, but I think part of it was that we, we looked at, um, the process as, as a whole, as a process problem. And we didn't necessarily assume that it was only about the architect, because when we spoke with architects and owners and also municipalities and engineers, they all had.

Um, a description of the process with themselves in the center. So, so it was,

uh, uh, there wasn't a shared understanding of a shared process of collaboration. And that's not necessarily wrong or right, but it, it creates this, different understanding so of, of what the most important problems are. Uh, but our [00:21:00] intuition was that the, the, and, and I guess insight, I guess is another, uh, way of saying it was that these outcomes that we're talking about, they really, the, the product of a, of a project, a building project, a construction project isn't really, A building, it's a utility for someone.

Like someone's, someone needs something. So if you look at it from a kind of software product assigned methodology kind of perspective, right? You're looking for kind of how do we solve these problems and burst the value? And the value isn't really the building. It's just a, it's just a vehicle to provide some kind of benefit.

And, and what you're looking for is to figure out what those benefits are and who, who's, who's looking for them. And you realize that it's like, it, it's, that's still complex, right? But you, you're kind of onto a different way of describing the problems. You're looking at the end users of the building, uh, of course, but they're also, uh, like urban kind of [00:22:00] inhabitants around the building and other, kind of buildings around it.

And there's traffic and there's kind of, uh, 

long term effects on the city, all these kinds of things. So there are different, uh, kind of outcomes, right? And it's, it's outcomes, but. . But the, if, if you're not an architect, you're gonna have to be a little bit more pragmatic about that. The, the, the, the building and the design is actually not the outcome.

It's, uh, and it's, that can be controversial when you kind of describe it without context, right? But it's, that doesn't mean that it's not important, right? It's, it's the, it's the vehicle of all the value. But it's still, if you look at this more as, as the kind of outcome problem that what we're looking for is to optimize the outcomes, you also realize that, um, it's, there's no object, there's no, uh, kind of unbiased answer to what the perfect building is. And that's actually a good thing, uh, in terms of automation, right? Because there is no AI that can come in and produce, like [00:23:00] you can't have ChatGPT kind of just build a building. I don't expect that to happen because there's no clear understanding of what the perfect building is because it's a sta it's a multi-stakeholder kind of optimization problem or.

Evan Troxel: it's not a, yeah, it's not a math equation 

Carl Christensen: it's not. And, and it's, it's tradeoffs and it's different ways of, of expressing those tradeoffs. and that's also part of how we started to solve the problem. So you have to, you have to solve for the practitioners, right? You have to solve for the architect and solve for the different protection practitioners.

But you have to realize that, uh, what an architect needs to do is, is, is to take, some desired outcomes and look at different ways of achieving those, and then, uh, get information about what are, what are the consequences for these different outcomes for the different options I'm looking at? And how can I communicate different choices I might make in different directions that result in different trade-offs, right?

Uh, in a way that, um, gains [00:24:00] the confidence of different stakeholders, but also lets them express what their priorities might be for those outcomes. Right. So, so you, There is a collaborative process here where more people can be included in making decisions. But you, it's not like you can expect that, that any practitioner can come up with all of the intent upfront and just pushing buttons, and then there's outcomes.

It, it, it's a, uh, it's an iterative process where you need to go back and forth and look at different options. But, uh, in so doing, you need that information. You need to understand what is my kind of, opportunity space and, and would the different consequences be, be, might be of, of things I might kind of do to the world. so, looking at it as a, um, uh, as a game of trade offs and a process,

and not necessarily kind of us, uh, owning that process, but more kind of facilitating that you can work in a different way and have, uh, a much easier kind of iteration and making [00:25:00] it, uh, easy and, and, uh, and hopefully fun to kind of explore, what you can do and, and then, uh, react to that, 

Evan Troxel: What kinds of projects were you focused on in since the beginning of Spacemaker? I mean, it seems like there's so many different verticals in architecture, right? There's residential, commercial, there's public work, there's all these different, you know, multifamily housing and hospitals and schools, and there's all these different typologies out there. You kind of have to pick some place to start. So where was that for you?

Carl Christensen: Yeah. So this is, uh, kind of where, where we come into these kind of the, the, the many first situations. because, if we wanted to make it very easy, uh, for ourselves, I think we would've chosen something that has kind of fewer requirements of fewer priorities. But we, we went for what we, experienced as, as a problem that had a lot of, different requirements that were competing.

Um, and that required a lot of understanding of the world around it, uh, [00:26:00] which was residential. So there are others, like a hospital is insanely complex in, in, in its own right.

But residential has all of these very hard trade-offs, um, that in, in both within a project, but also in, in how it affects its surroundings.

Um, so we felt that that's where we could make the most, or, or that was one place where we could make a very kind of tangible. Impact, um, and, and, uh, and demonstrate that this, this idea, uh, had value. So what we did was that we approached, several ongoing projects and we spoke with both architects and owners and asked them, uh, if we could try and help them by giving them options that they might have not have seen, or giving them insight into options that they might not have seen, which we did.

and we were able to demonstrate that that gave insights and, and kind of came up with ways of,[00:27:00] solving for problems on the site, if you will, that that, uh, the teams hadn't been able to anticipate, of, of the, the lack of feedback that you'd get from the process that made them not really able to try, uh, those kinds of options or many options to figure out better ways of solving the site.

So that's kind of where, where it started. . but that's also where we still are, right? And where the, uh, first situation of format still is. And, and, and the reason for that is that there's so much to solve for, are so many different needs and so many local needs, um, and, uh, in, in these kinds of problems.

Uh, which is also why a lot of the work in taking spacemaker as a, as a platform into, uh, the first situation Forma has been to prepare it for, uh, being an open platform that is more extendable and that can more rapidly adapt to both more local needs and more kind of adaptation [00:28:00] within residential, but also make it easier to scale it to other typologies and to more faces and verticals and so on.

which, the backing of audit as it's possible to, to do, but as a standalone, , uh, startup, uh, we didn't really have, uh, the capacity to, uh, to accomplish.

Evan Troxel: Yeah, you kind of become this, you're very, you become a niche software platform for a very specific. Project typology that an architecture firm may or may not do. And so you're kind of self-selecting who's gonna be, one of your customers, right? Uh, by, just by picking a place to start. And think about Revit, right?

Being this very horizontal platform, and it's trying to be everything for everybody. And that has its own set of pitfalls too, right? And so people don't see the things that they need because everybody's using the same platform. They have to put their attention somewhere and they have to prioritize development and. Bug fixes and new features and all of those [00:29:00] things. And so either way, you have this, it's it's kind of like architecture, right? You've got this series of trade-offs that you, you have to make these decisions and and you're never gonna please everybody. So I think that's one of the things that people maybe see when they see Forma for the first time is like, well, I don't do that kind of architecture. And what you're saying is you're developing it in a way that it will add additional, I, let's just call it modules. I don't know what you want to call it, but there's additional modules for different project types. Or maybe you don't even think about it as project types, but just additional functionality to fill in the gaps of different project typologies that exist so that you can scale the customer base at the growth that you guys want to achieve.

Carl Christensen: Yeah, I think that's accurate. You know, I, I expect a lot of people that come into Forma for the first time to, to, to say that like, this doesn't work for me for, for decision or this reason doesn't have this yet. It doesn't have that yet. And [00:30:00] part of what we do is that, um, that I think it's important to realize when we talk about first, first iteration is that, um, I'm hoping that the launch of Forma is, will be our single and final launch because it's, uh, supposed to be, a cloud environment that updates all the time. And it has updated,like there's been, like, we, we've been up for three weeks and we've had, more than 20 updates, I think. Um, and so this is a cloud platform that, that kind of grows all the time, which is part of how we evolve with customers. Right. But, and, and, and, and, uh, Uh, the, the, the platform approach that we take with, with extensions will also allow, um, savvy customers to adapt it to their own desires, uh, and needs, which I think is, will be really interesting to see what people do with it.

But we, we really want to, uh, maintain [00:31:00] the north star of simplicity. And one way we're doing that is to, to keep the product contextual. So, um, instead of having this kind of horizontal approach where you have all of the tools all the time, uh, we provide the tools that you need for the, the type of job you're doing, and that, that will allow us to add, like, we can, we will expand on the, the kind of modes or the, the, the, the, the types of capabil that we have.

Now, we will also add entirely kind of new views or sub modes, whatever you want to call them, that they're specialized. Let's say you wanna work with terrain. , if you want to work with you will know that you are working with terrain and you will, um, then you will be presented with, um, specialized tooling that allows you to work with that in a way that, that you want to.

Um, and we will also do this, uh, with, when we kind of expand to other personas or verticals. Let's say you work with infrastructure [00:32:00] or you work with bridges, we can't kind expect users to, get burdened with all of these different, very, very different workflows at the same time. But we can present them in a way that's coherent so that they can work with the same area and replace in the world, but with different, uh, practices or different expertises or different focuses, um, within the same site or environment, which I think, um, will unleash a lot of, great.

collaboration that I'm really looking forward to, but we really want to work with users and work with customers to make sure that it's all understandable and approachable and simple to use, uh, and lower barrier to entry, the kind of capabilities grow.

Evan Troxel: Yeah. That, that's really important. I think for, uh, you mentioned it earlier, uh, building a tool that people have fun using or want to use another way to put it right. Uh, the, the overwhelm of all the tools on the screen all the time is we see it in tools that have been around for a long time, right?

Where just features keep adding up on top of each other and there's never this kind [00:33:00] of context switching that you're really talking about in those older apps But this idea of personas or different tasks where there's a specific tool set for that task makes a lot sense. I'm excited to, to kind of dive into that and, and see more of that because as you add more features over time, which is naturally gonna happen, you also have to balance that with not seeing everything on the screen and overwhelming people the first time they open that app, you know, because they'll never come back. Right. There's, what's the point? I already have tools that have all these buttons, right. And I already know how to use those other tools. So you have to kind of make it, I, what's the, it's something like the new software on the block has to be 10 times better than what you're already using.

Right? For you, for you to actually pay attention to it, just two times better or whatever isn't gonna be enough. So is that really how you're approaching that from a, I mean, interface is a big deal, right? When it comes to people enjoying the app that they're [00:34:00] using. There's definitely a, an issue that we see with adoption in aec, around technology where if there, there's, right now if I, if I use 10 different tools to do my job, so be it.

That's how it is, because that's the only option I have. Versus something like this where you're talking about almost like multiple apps in the same app, which just, just shows you what you need to be using when you're doing a specific type of a thing. Is, is UI kind of, uh, the gateway to, to this for you?

Do you think that's gonna unlock it?

Carl Christensen: I believe so. But, but we want to be very humble to the, um, that kind of notion that you force. , that approach on, on the, uh, um, industry and on the ecosystem. So we also want to be every open, platform, right? That can both be open in the sense that it's extensible so that people can kind of adapt it.

But also that, uh, we want to expose [00:35:00] APIs so that, uh, people can make their own choices about whether they want to do, like, leverage some of the capabilities that we provide, but also over time, uh, the data that, that, uh, customers, um, have in, in, in Autodesk in general, right? ways that they want. So we want to, uh, win people over to work in a more outcome based way by having a very pleasant user interface and making it very easy and simple to use and, and helping them see the value in that.

but then not forcing them. to have to kind of go all in and, and, and forego something else. Uh, so, so that's also why it's a journey, right? Because we want to make, get people along on that journey, and hopefully they'll use it more and more and maybe use other things less because they can do everything Forma but it's, uh, it's through self-selection and not through creating, uh, barriers for them.

So that's kind of the, I guess the, [00:36:00] the, the dual, uh, approach to that. But, but to win that, uh, yes, uh, we spend an, amount of time on trying to simplify and, and we also remove things very regularly that, that are not successful, that people don't use to

maintain simplicity and to, uh, to work with, what actually kind of works, uh, in the different workflows and, and, even though you can have a great idea, right?

It's, it's very hard upfront to figure out, uh, what really works. So you need, you need to do that with customers and with users in the loop, um, to refine and discover those kind of new and better ways of, of doing things.

Evan Troxel: we've talked a lot about the context, like the, the drivers of the decisions that you've made to start where you've started and things like that. But maybe let's shift gears now and talk about what Forma actually does right now with the new release that's just come out, you said three weeks ago. Give everybody an idea of just to kind of set the foundation here of what's [00:37:00] possible today, what they could expect to see when using it now. 

Carl Christensen: Yeah. So, so as we've talked about, right, what we want to help users with, with format is, to achieve better outcomes, to make better decisions, um, and to carry those, uh, decisions and, and those opportunities with them. , when they continue their product. So we want them to start with Forma. That's kind of both what, what we believe people should do and what we want them to do and what we want to give them, to, uh, come up with these better outcomes is that we first give them, uh, place in the world or, and an understanding of the place in the world that they want to work on in a precise way as possible.

So, so in any ac project, you start with, the real world as it is, and you wanna change it in some way, right? So to be able to reason about the outcomes, you need to understand where, what that looks like. So, we have, both opportunities for automated data capture in most places in the world with different, [00:38:00] uh, providers of that data.

Um, and also the opportunity to add that data manually. And if, if you can of course, combine that so that you, you, you start with, um, a version of the world that is as precise as as possible, and that includes in addition to kind of terrain. It can include, include roads, other buildings, climate, data, wind, weather, uh, traffic, data, that kind of thing.

And then, we, we help you, very easily, um, either manually, semi, manually assisted, um, or using, um, different kinds of, of, uh, generative automations, come up with options on that site. And then we use or provide, um, a huge range of different types of analysis that are. Uh, either, uh, depending on your needs, uh, are rapid as you draw machine learning based predictions of different types of outcomes, like, [00:39:00] um, the operational energy of buildings, noise conditions, wind conditions, uh, microclimate, comfort, lighting, sun, uh, those kinds of things.

and then, uh, we help you, react and kind of iterate on, uh, those conditions to make decisions and to de and to show and compare those different options to stakeholders, uh, that you can use, uh, this, cloud-based platform, which, uh, I, I guess I should have mentioned, um, in the beginning, this is a completely cloud-based platform, so, you can have unlimited viewers invited into, um, those projects.

uh, and, and use that, to drive decisions about where to go and what to do. And you can also use, um, extensions. Uh, we have, uh, in the better version, uh, of, uh, since this is the first situation in the early release, we have, uh, product called Test Fit, which is a great provider of different types of generators.

where [00:40:00] the first one that they've released through format is a parking generator that automates a different type of parking setups, can help you explore options where parking is important. And then, we have Shape Diver, which is a cloud solu solution for connecting gen, um, grasshopper scripts where you can build your own Grasshopper generators.

we are of course also working on, dynamo integration. that's a similar, but , is coming. and then we help you, of move that, uh, the sign along, uh, when you want to, uh, by connecting that to Revit so that you have a file less, uh, live connection with Revit.

So you can take those, uh, early options with you into Revit, including the terrain and the surroundings. And then you can, detail it in the ways you want in Revit, and then you can take that back into Forma to reason about those consequences with the analysis that we provide. So that's kind of, I guess a full cycle of, uh, not everything you can do, but, what I think most people will [00:41:00] want to experiment with when they first get into format.

Evan Troxel: I think a lot of firms are used to seeing all these different pieces, but they're all kind of separate pieces, right? And so maybe they've come up with some these concoctions of all the different puzzle pieces that you just talked about. You know, they're talking, you're talking about environmental analysis, you're talking about daylight analysis, wind, uh, context modeling, environmental, all, all of that part.

And then you've got The different plugins, like you're talking about with Shape Diver and with test fit and there's, there's a lot of scripts that exist out there that are, you know, somebody's ha gotta maintain that code for the, the parking generator and somebody's gotta maintain the code to uh, you know, make sure that, you know, ladybug or pollination or what, you know, you've got all these different pieces that are kind of, living individually that somebody's gotta maintain versus this idea of it being all in one environment.

And I think it can't really be understated how big of a, of a deal that is because now [00:42:00] it's like you just go in and use it. And like you said, you've pushed out 20 updates in three weeks and it's all through the browser and, it just keeps on working, I guess is, is the ideal state. I don't, I don't know if that's true or not, but, but that's the, that's what everybody hopes for is, is like no longer do we need somebody in-house to maintain the script and the script and the script and the script for every project moving forward. Uh, to me, this, this was a huge opportunity that you guys are capitalizing on, which is putting it all in one place, in this kind of hub, this, this SaaS platform that you've developed. And, I I think that's an important distinction, especially for firms that don't necessarily have employees in those positions or have to, I don't know, hire out to consultants to do that for them, which is also, you know, it's expensive.

It's probably not very timely. Those consultants are working with lots of different customers and so. I can just see how big of a deal that can [00:43:00] actually be for practicing architects to just say like, uh, we're investing in this and it's going like, your contract with them is that, that that's what you're gonna be doing.

You're gonna be maintaining all that stuff. I want to get back to this design stuff because the, the i, the early stages of design, I think what's really important when you, especially when you talk about the outcomes, is this ability to, and everybody, every architect already does this. They, they think about the context that their building sits within and that the project doesn't really end at the boundaries of the property line, even though that is what we're ultimately responsible to deliver is what's inside these bounds. But the early phases of design are really about how that building affected by and affects its community. Right. And so I'm, I'm interested from your perspective, when you talk about the need for. Buildings, the utility of those buildings, it often doesn't end [00:44:00] at the property line. And so your tools actually are allowing people to look beyond that from the earliest iteration of the project.

Carl Christensen: Yeah. Yeah. The, you know, the, the, some of the, some of the customer wins, which of course anyone that creates a product loves nothing more than seeing what customers can achieve. Right.

Um, some of the things that have made us most proud and at least has made, made me most excited has been where, where architects really, um, take advantage of that and, and demonstrate, um, how the choices they're making improve on the surroundings and make it better than it would otherwise would, or demonstrate that, uh, that what they're doing is, is not creating, uh, some kind of problem that, that others perceive, right? That the community is perceiving.

Um, or that they cleverly kind of, uh, mass the site so that, um, they actually shield, uh, or, or create something, [00:45:00] uh, that, that's beneficial to others that, that, um, the community, community or municipality or others have been looking for. And again, this is always the game of, of trade-offs and there are, um, so many things to optimize for and many of them are often kind of outside, um, the site and, and the conversations.

I, always kind of been in the room because that's not kind of. , where we should be. But, but when talking to municipalities as well and kind of other stakeholders after they've, they've had these kinds of meetings where they say that, uh, I remember one, one municipality kind of, um, telling me that the interests of, of the kind of project team and the architect kind of representing the owner.

And in municipality, uh, they are very often they are the same, but they kind of, you, you can't necessarily trust each other in a process where, um, there's no, um, shared transparent [00:46:00] information that everyone can trust. So people kind of create their own versions and sell different narratives. Um, but um, in this project, the architects kind of shared, um, the, what was on spacemaker.

with them live, right? And they could also, they could pull on the levers. They could even create their own options, and they could see that, uh, this, uh, in the information and the data that they could see and the outcomes they were looking for, right? They could, they could see, uh, in a transparent and trusted way that this was actually true.

Um, and that created a trust that made them feel less concerned about kind of validating the zoning and more interested in actually discussing, good tradeoffs and good, uh, outcomes together, the project team. And we've seen that several times. Um, and I, I think that's kind of the most exciting, uh, when, when you see that these processes actually change in some fundamental ways, [00:47:00] facilitated, by a tool, but of course by people are, that are very kind of forward leading and mature in how they use it. But, um, that's, uh, that, that is kind of what I hope to see. More of, uh, going forward.

Evan Troxel: Yeah, absolutely. That participation, that inclusion of all the stakeholders in the decision making process, rather than it being in a black box behind closed doors, you know, or just in somebody else's office and then presenting the outcome to, that's a completely different scenario, and I've been in that situation many times where you're doing it live with. there's new tools that make this possible, right? Tools, like what you're talking about, where you're taking all of these environmental and property and all these constraints into account while you're designing and, and thinking about those things live with them in realtime. Realtime rendering is another amazing tool to, to make decisions [00:48:00] with people when it comes to light and shadow and colors and materials, and, these actually are not just things you do at the end of a project anymore.

These aren't just for the diagrams. They're not just for the imagery. They're actually a, a key tool to help include stakeholders to make decisions in real time. I mean, it's, it's pretty incredible the shift that has happened in. The ability for architects to include their clients and not just, you know, the, the famous Frank Lloyd Wright story for Falling Water, right?

It's like he didn't have a design and then, and then all of a sudden the client says, I'm coming to your office. I'm tired of waiting for this design. And he, so ca you know, I, I don't know how true this story is, but it was like, I designed this, building in three days. And it's a, it's an iconic masterpiece, right?

That doesn't, that's not how the kinds of projects that we're talking about go. And so the value that architects and engineers and the, the people behind the projects actually have to be [00:49:00] able to put that on display in real time in a room with stakeholders through collaboration I think it helps the industry.

It actually gives people stories to tell who are not. in the industry who are more of the consumers of the things that we do to proliferate the value beyond, uh, just the very small number of interactions that have traditionally happened between architects and engineers and owners and contractors.

Right. So I think it it that it is a, it is just a mindset shift, but it's also you are unlocking something beyond what traditional practice has been afforded in the past. So I think that that's an incredibly exciting thing for architects and people who are involved in these early stages of design to understand and grab onto and use that as a, as a way to further what's possible in the world of architecture. It's, it's kind of fascinating. you talked about this [00:50:00] openness, you talked about this extensibility, and you gave a couple of examples with Shape Diver and TestFit. I know Clifton, he's been on the show before from TestFit a couple of times, and he, he really sings your praises. He, he, he thinks you're an amazing person.

And, and I I'm interested to hear what your idea of this openness is, because that's not a story that we're used to hearing from Autodesk. Right? It's Revit, the proprietary RVT format. I mean, that's not going away. I know that there's been a lot of steps, a lot more recently. Maybe it's as a result of the op open letters that were, were happening, maybe not, but it's this idea to push for more openness with IFC, with BuildingSmart so give us an idea of, of where you see that potential in being open and with this kind of extensible format that you're talking about.

Carl Christensen: Yeah. You know, I feel that there's, there's a, there's a huge, um, support in Autodesk for [00:51:00] openness. Um, but the, the existing portfolio, um, um, it, it, it came, uh, from and exists on the desktop and centered around files. And, and Revit was built on a, on an idea that was, that existed before the internet. Right.

Where, some of the consequences, I guess to, to keep it simple. Oh, that is, that it's very hard to, um, to kind of break it down and make it more easily accessible. Um, and, um, there's, there's a lot of smart people working very, very hard on that right now. But it will take time and especially. with all the expectations that's built into these, um, these faces that you also described, right?

Where the precision and that kind of don't mess up my project is much more important. Like people will not tolerate any, uh, errors and, uh, that, that, that makes it take longer, right? Um, you cannot experiment in the same way. So doing that, like the the 20 [00:52:00] updates I just mentioned, right? You don't want that while you're building a ridge.

Evan Troxel: right? 

Carl Christensen: um, you don't want it to fall down, right? So it's, it, it, it really is different. But, um, but we had the liberty of, of starting with, with less of those constraints, so we never kind of started with files. There are no form of files. There's no Forma format. Uh, it's a cloud solution that doesn't really kind of abide by, by those.

Kinds of laws, if you will, like it. It uses APIs, means that means that you can get the data, but there's no specific format that you can download and have one file, um, that you can use for anything meaningful. You, you kind of get the different types of data. You, you get the terrain or you get the models or you get the different things out of it.

Uh, but if you want it kind of working together, you keep it within that set of APIs, right? And you can integrate, et cetera. So what we want to do is, is yes, we want it to be, you want people to be able to pull that out in different ways because they want to for different reasons, [00:53:00] right? But you want them to be able to in interact with APIs, so the data's live.

And, and so that's kind of the, the basis of the idea is that we want to make things extendable, but it's with working with live information as opposed to kind of pulling the data over and moving it and doing something kind of, uh, with it as a file somewhere else in some different format. Um, so, so we want to kind of rely more on live interactions, but still make it possible for, for anyone to use whatever tool they want.

and also, uh, hopefully make kind of the extensions and the different tools that we have actually, uh, materialize within other contexts. Um, either whether it's kind of for customers that are specialized enough to create their own stuff. As you mentioned there, there's a huge, it's a huge kind of, span of kind of single users, small firms and huge firms that have different needs, right?

And, and, and I think they should be able to, to kind of cater to those whatever needs they [00:54:00] have themselves. But, but this idea of an, of an open platform of APIs, that that kind of, allows you to access both the data and the capabilities live allows for very different, um, opportunities of. , uh, adaptation.

And that's kind of the, the, the core idea that not only kind of Forma relies on, but all of Autodesk is kind of in the, in the transition to provide more and more of those capabilities, which I think is super exciting. And, and also kind of part of what makes it possible to build, uh, Forma as part of Autodesk.

Um, and, and, uh, where we're kind of, surfing on, on kind of that wave of what's coming with the, from Autodesk.

Evan Troxel: so because it's a cloud platform, does that mean that you do need to be connected all the time to get the benefits that you're talking about?

Carl Christensen: Yes. I think that's the short answer. So, so there might be, you know, special use cases that we might develop for where there's, there's a specific need. Let's say you're on a construction site or something that, [00:55:00] that we develop functionality that is, that is required to do that. But, but the kind of, uh, let's say kind of the, the, the immersive experience of kind of working with outcomes and, and having all of these capabilities working together assumes that they're available via the cloud. Yes,

Evan Troxel: the idea with Revit of checking out a license and going to an island on the beach and working for a week and then synching to central after you're done, you can do that. Right. And, and you know, when there is a file based system, you can do that, but you, it is a game of offs, as you said a couple times.

Right. it's like in order to have this, Unlimited viewer collaboration session with live data and all, and that the trade off is you have to be connected when you're using 

Carl Christensen: yeah. And, and that's also, you know, revit's still there and it's still being very, very heavily invested in, and it's still,

a huge ecosystem as well. And it, and it will evolve also to be more open and connected. That's, that's being hugely invested in. So, [00:56:00] Forma is an augmentation of, uh, what you can get right from, uh, from the portfolio of Autodesk.

And, and you can use format very, very well with, with Revit. and, and you can technically kind of export import files to do that as well, but that will not give you those benefits, right? So the, the interaction that we have with Revit is, is live. It's based on that live premise of being online.

Um, and we're also, another example of, of trying to extend that openness, we're, we're working still in a closed beta, but we're working on a, on a live link with Brio. And that has, um, the same, it, it's, it's live, right? And that's, it's file less. And that's kind of how it works. So you could also.

connect two rhinos to, to one for instance, right. And, and kind of see it all kind of working together. Um, which I think is, opens up a lot of new opportunities. But it's,

Evan Troxel: Right, 

Carl Christensen: it, it's still kind of with that, it's on a kind of cloud native, view of the world, if you will, [00:57:00] where, where you kind of maximize the potential that you can get from that and the extensibility and the openness that you can get from, from that.

There are an there, there's an API for, for everything. Um, but it has that trade off that what you, some of the beauty of what kind of, uh, what the desktop tools origin was built for. Right. And the simplicity of that, of kind of not having to think about the internet at all, is that's harder to kind of marry.

Evan Troxel: Who is this for right now? Like there's, you guys have you start, you had to start somewhere. And you've talked about kind of the residential side of things. Is it still very much for that kind of an architect, or if you can give us an idea of who it's for right now. And I think maybe a second part of that question is because there's, there's like this awareness that Forma exists now. Um, or at least that's the idea even with podcasts like this is to get that out there, but. Beyond just the awareness, what are the advantages people will gain by looking at this product [00:58:00] early as it exists in the world so that they can become, you know, there's more than the awareness level, right? But, but actually investing in it and, and getting into the tool set and seeing what is capable of, what will people gain as an advantage for themselves? May, maybe that's the wrong way to say it, but, but like, what is this gonna unlock for them by adopting.

Carl Christensen: great question. So I think, you know, I, I believe that that outcome-based design is the future, and that that way of working on unlocks so much value that, uh, as pharma grows and has more capabilities and supports, uh, more detailed design and also more verticals, this ecosystem will grow very rapidly also with extensions and, and so on.

and with our investments, uh, going forward in, in automation and, and AI and, and all that comes with it and, and sustainability and kind of all of these capabilities, I, I think people will kind of find themselves, much more able to kind of keep up with that level of [00:59:00] change that you talked about that kind of makes, makes it look like the industry's going backwards because it, um, is not going forwards, I guess, as, as, as fast as the world around them.

What we've seen from, from the experience we have with Spacemaker as well, is that it takes a long time for practitioners to really internalize the capa, the the, what this can do for them in terms of how they work and how they, they process. So they can, they can kind of, uh, incorporate it as a tool and, and understand what the tool does, but then to kind of get those aha moments of how you can use that in a process with a client or with different stakeholders or, or, oh, I can use it for that.

I can use it for that. I didn't think of that. Um, there are so many things that, at least from our experience, people don't do that. They don't consciously think about why they don't do, but, but one of the reasons is that it's hard , not necessarily that it's not useful, and so they've stopped doing them, or, or ne they generally don't invest in the early phase because it's just too cumbersome or they spend, they spend this amount of time or this, [01:00:00] or that amount of time.

So, me, I think that's kind of the, the, the being kind of on this asset journey and, and being. , uh, being in tune with it so that you, you follow that rapid evolution as it, as it happens, I think will benefit, uh, most people like in, in, in, in terms of technology. Like we usually say that, you know, we don't want technology to replace humans, but humans that are good at using technology, uh, has a tendency to kind of outcompete those that don't use technology.

but kind of more specifically, right? It does bring the most benefits in the early phase. Um, but most projects start somewhere , right? So, so, so I think that applies to many, but also, uh, with that, uh, Revit connection, you can be pretty far down the line and pull these things back, uh, and validate and or pull them up into the cloud, if you want to call it that, and, and validate your designs and even do variations of, of those designs using Forma. [01:01:00] So, so I think that, uh, makes it possible to apply to a lot more cases. it is, kind of more tuned for residential right now, but that will evolve rapidly. Um, and there are a lot of users that kind of cleverly just kind of just don't, don't use apartments and kind of solve for offices or other, needs that they have, uh, just don't use all of the tools that are specialized for residential. So, so that's also completely possible just to kind of point that out.

Evan Troxel: I think we could start to wrap up. I think the last subject I really want to talk about with you is you've, you've said it a couple times, you've said AI, and you've also referenced ChatGPT. And I know we're not talking about AI in that context. So if you could talk about, because it's the biggest buzzword of, of everything right now.

Right? We see it everywhere. every company is chasing after this. And, and so if you can talk about how Forma uses AI, uh, to help [01:02:00] and augment the, the designer during the design process, I think that would help people understand what you mean because AI can be interpreted in so many different ways.

Carl Christensen: Yeah, absolutely. So I think, first I, I'd like to kind of caveat that, that we are rapidly kind of, we're experimenting all kinds of, AI and automation all the time. So I don't want to exclude any type of, automations and a lot of the interesting stuff that's happening out there, we're looking into all of it, but I think our approach will be, consistent.

And that is that the ai, will be an assistant, it will be an aid for you to reach the outcomes that you seek. So the, the example of kind of an AI just conjure conjuring up something for you is not necessarily what people want because it doesn't allow them to iterate or express or, or, or work with those trade-offs of different outcomes.

[01:03:00] And we, we came up with the term ai on the shoulder many years ago. Um, and now, you know, people are using the term copilot, uh, for some of the types of generative ai. And I think it's, the intent is, is similar, like the, the, what we want is, is for, the practitioner to hold the reigns right, and be in control.

But, but, but al also, uh, be part of the loop, right? And be part of the iteration and, and do small increments and reup support in small increments. So, . In many cases when people use format, um, and they've heard kind of that there's AI in it, they ask, where's the ai? Because we don't, we don't want, features to feel like magic because when they feel like magic, they're impressive, but they're also hard to understand, and that's not what we want.

We want people to understand what's happening because when you work with AEC even in the early phase, regardless of the phase you're in, you, you want to take a version of the world, right? Um, and [01:04:00] you, you need, you need that to be a real version of the world. You can't be a game. It has to be relatively precise as as precise as as possible, really.

And then you want to change that into a new version of the world. And that can't be make believe either. It has to be buildable, it has to be real. So there's some constraints there in, in how you can use AI that Autodesk is very aware of and, and we are very aware of and, and that we will.

respect and also, uh, on behalf of the user maintain that, you need to have predictability and, and understand the level of precision of what you're doing and how that kind of works with the world. So that being said, we use, AI mainly in two ways. So one is, um, to, uh, help you, uh, generate increments, I would say, of, uh, the sign.

So, uh, there's, there's a, there's a kind of, between just smart automation and parametric automation and generative design [01:05:00] and, and using AI for that, that is relatively indistinguishable when it's, uh, just helping you kind of drawing a line and populating it or kind of filling out a parking garage or filling out a site with, let's say 10 different options.

what we're really doing is we're, we're trying to balance the kind of level of, the increments that you're creating, the different options that you're creating, uh, so that it's easy for you that it's, uh, uh, there's as little heavy lifting as possible and that the level of precision or the things you're looking for is kind of, uh, is at the level you want.

And there are different, or we have many different versions of that, that, and that's also where you can add extensions, so you can create your own, but where the point is that it's, uh, the threshold for kind of adding, um, options is low. of the areas that's, that's really been kind of the deep learning, machine learning, elements of, of Forma that people kind of maybe don't realize is the [01:06:00] rapid simulations or the rapid analysis so that the, they that predict the outcomes on the world.

because, that's something that can feel intuitive to humans, right? That you can feel the wind or hear the noise, but actually simulating that in a very precise manner. It also follows, like the, the best, standards or kind of analysis models that's out there, uh, to come up with, uh, precise predictions about, uh, what will happen if you kind of do this or do this, then it's really hard.

So we've both built this automated, fantastic kind of cloud-based like C CFD and kind of, uh, noise, that's not called cfd, but kind of that, that bounces off the walls and do, does all of these, uh, fantastic things that's super hard, uh, that runs on like a huge number of cloud computers, et cetera.

That's all automated that it works, to give. , really high quality results, but it, it, even with, uh, the automation that we've [01:07:00] done, it's not instant. So that's available in Forma and you can use it for making hard decisions about really precise, uh, choices that you're making. Um, but then while you're designing, we've taken the learnings from those advanced, fully automated analysis, right?

And we've trained that to, to be able to give you live versions, predictions of the same, that is not as precise, but it's precise enough for you to actually recent about. And that is extremely powerful when you have all of these different outcomes, right? You're working with, very different, aspects.

And you're also working with, you're trying to optimize, let's say noise on both a courtyard or a kind of garden and the, the apartments. Um, and you're also looking at, uh, micro-climate or when. Or you're looking at, um, energy, potential energy utilization. We're also working on total carbon, and, and all of the, like, there, there's a lot of other aspects, right?

But, that's, [01:08:00] uh, a place where, uh, I think AI is incredibly powerful, but it's, it's, it's, it's not very obvious when you use it that you're using an advanced ai.

Evan Troxel: Yeah, that, that's a good point. I think. It's, it is the, the picture that you just painted. It just, it shows that we are in a different world than we have been when it comes to the kinds of things that need to be taken into account during design, that we now have the tools to do so, and really either verify or, you know, validate or get rid of our intuition that we may have as designers when it comes to, you know, because what, what are the, what normally happens is you go visit a site before there's a, anything there or you know, if it's a, if it's a greenfield site and you take into account kind of what that weather it, that's a snapshot.

That's all it is, is that one snapshot. But what you're talking about is. Yearly averages, monthly averages, weekly averages, uh, or not even [01:09:00] averages, but specific data points that have ha been recorded over time. And just say, if we do it like this, what's gonna happen? And, and a lot of times a designer will have an intuition about that and it could be validated, but it could also be like, well, I didn't expect that at all. And to have the ability to visualize and back up the decision making process with, you know, justification wise with real information that is historical is a completely different world than I think a lot of longtime architects are used to operating within. And the tools that have been on the market for two decades plus, it's very difficult to kind of stitch this information into those because of that, that long legacy code base that exists.

It's It's not as, malleable as maybe a newer product is. And it just really shows how. Much. That landscape has shifted, and it's really interesting to see how quickly, [01:10:00] uh, things change, but also how hard it is to get people to adopt new tools, even though you can see that the direct benefit to having a tool set like this at your fingertips. It's really, really interesting to kind of hear all of that. is there anything that we've missed talking about here in this kind of introduction to you and, and spacemaker now forma, uh, in this conversation that you wanna add?

Carl Christensen: I, I think we've covered a lot of interesting topics. Um, it's always hard to, to answer that question. I, I think. , uh, I think we've been able to talk about, um, what's most important for, for me, which, which is that I think, um, we can help the industry come up with better outcomes, right? And it is about, 

well, it's about trade offs and it's, it's hard, but it really, uh, in the end, it, it is about building better, cities, right? And better built environments. And I'm really excited, uh, about, uh, [01:11:00] of seeing what people are doing with that. And, and I'm, uh, I'm very excited if more people can discover, uh, that that's an opportunity for them as well.

Evan Troxel: beautiful way to wrap it up. I appreciate that your trajectory is to help and to make it possible to do these kinds of things. I love, I love that outlook and, thank you so much for taking the time to have this conversation with me today and our audience. And I, I'm sure, I'm hoping we'll have the opportunity to follow this up later on when you guys have a lot more, uh, users under your belt and also, you know, experiences because I think that's really where, sharing those experiences, sharing those stories of. Positive outcomes through new tools in the industry, is, is the most beneficial. And, and I, I'm really excited that there's just this new opportunity for the AEC industry to, this isn't really the best way to say it, but out with the old and in with the new, you know, this, this [01:12:00] idea of, of moving forward and progress is so important in our industry.

So, thank you for what you and your team have done. I am, I'm excited to see where it goes.

Carl Christensen: Thank you so much Evan and I would love to come back anytime.

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