Jaws dropped as Bentley Systems’ vice president of corporate marketing, Chris Barron, opened the Exton, Pa.–based software company’s seventh annual “Be Inspired” awards program by bursting into song. The performance, which tied James Bond movies with infrastructure, was enthusiastically received by nearly 700 architecture, engineering, construction, and operations (AECO) professionals and journalists from around the world attending Bentley’s Year In Infrastructure 2013 conference in London.
The Oct. 30 banquet culminated not just the prior day’s litany of presentations by 65 awards finalists in 22 categories, but also the competition that began in July with a field of infrastructure project submissions from more than 300 design, engineering, and construction firms in 43 countries. Along with announcing the winner of each category, Bentley executives also named nine Be Inspired Special Recognition awards.
The awards program honors the projects and project teams that are advancing the design, engineering, construction, operations, and delivery of infrastructure around the world with the use of Bentley’s software portfolio. From the engineering team that captivated the world when it righted the Costa Concordia in Italy, to the joint contracting team behind Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates’ undulating Midfield Terminal Complex at the Abu Dhabi International Airport, and to the professor at the Technical University Wroclaw, in Poland, who wanted his students to see parametric design through to a built project, the entrants who arrived in London to make their final presentations ranged widely in scale and scope.
Six teams of jurors, comprising industry experts, past award winners, and members of the media, including myself, evaluated the submissions based on their ability to quantify results in time and economic savings, to demonstrate innovation in meeting project objectives, and to leverage Bentley’s digital information modeling tools—although integration with other providers’ software was welcomed—in the delivery of integrated projects and intelligent infrastructure.
Several of the 22 categories spanning the AECO markets, from land development to power generation, focused on buildings. As a juror for three categories—innovation in point cloud processing and management, generative design, and collaboration using i-models—I observed how the latest digital tools and software are streamlining the workflow from design to delivery and management. Thanks to LiDAR (a combination of light and radar) technology, or 3D laser scanning, the days of tediously field surveying conditions to create an only slightly accurate map are essentially past. Parametric design may have once been a shortcut to spitting out intricate and impractical forms, but now architects and engineers use it to optimize the building performance and siting, and to reduce material needs in fabrication. Meanwhile, information models, or i-models, allow design teams to embed useful data in 3D models and documents regardless of the authoring application and all the while maintaining provenance, or its origin, tracking, and history information.
The Be Inspired Awards reception was only one component of Bentley’s Year in Infrastructure 2013 conference, which took place Oct. 29 to Oct. 31 in London. The gathering of executives, practitioners, design professionals, and members of the media included several product announcements by Bentley—forthcoming—interactive workshops, and summits in the areas of buildings, rail and transit, project delivery, power delivery, and asset performance management.
Below are winners from select categories. The full list of award winners and finalists is available at Bentley’s website.
Note: This article has been updated since first publication to include event attendance numbers.