Courtesy Budget Direct Travel Insurance A digital reconstruction of the Hatra in Al-Jazīrah, Iraq

With everyone limiting travel during the global pandemic, the insurance provider Budget Direct has brought a selection of historic ruins to a screen near you. As part of a larger campaign from the company's travel insurance wing, they worked with the U.K.–based content studio NeoMam and Serbian designer Jelena Popović to generate GIFs that restore six UNESCO World Heritage sites to their "former glory," giving viewers a glimpse of the sites had they been preserved. Selecting six sites—including the Old City of Jerusalem and the Walls of Jerusalem, in Israel, and the Hatra in Al-Jazīrah, Iraq—from UNESCO’s List of World Heritage in Danger, Budget Direct collaborated with Popović to research and digitally reconstruct each structure using historical information and design data. [Budget Direct]

Following new legislation passed by Congress, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. soon might expand to include the National Museum of the American Latino. Introduced to Congress by Rep. José Serrano (D-N.Y.) in 2019, the bill (H.R. 2420) passed by voice vote with bipartisan approval on July 27. It has been referred to the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, where it awaits review. [U.S. Congress]

Carbon footprints from household energy use in Los Angeles and Boston
Courtesy Benjamin Goldstein, Dimitrios Gounaridis, and Joshua P. Newell Carbon footprints from household energy use in Los Angeles and Boston

Marginalized communities bear a disproportionate burden of the effects of climate change in the U.S., with Black and Hispanic communities exposed to more air pollution and facing more direct environmental hazards than their white counterparts, but a new study from the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability reports that they are responsible for just a fraction of the country's residential greenhouse gas emissions. Using data on 93 million individual households, the researchers published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences titled "The Carbon Footprint of Household Energy Use in the United States," analyzing energy use across the country and finding that higher income households are "driving these emissions." Although only 19% of American households qualify as high-income, the researchers found that their carbon footprints were footprints were approximately "25% higher than those of lower-income residents, primarily due to larger homes," and that affluent suburbs often generated emissions 15% higher than those of lower-income neighborhoods. Researchers also reported that, despite households becoming more energy efficient, residential greenhouse gas emissions are not shrinking; that is,, in its current state, the U.S. will not meet the 2050 residential emissions reduction by decarbonizing electricity production. "Meeting this target will also necessitate a broad portfolio of zero emission energy solutions and behavioral change associated with housing preferences," the paper states. "To support policy, we estimate the reductions in floor space and increases in density needed to build low-carbon communities." [PNAS]

Researchers from MIT have developed a new recyclable thermoset plastic, modifying its chemical structure to make the heat-resistant material easier to break down. Through a study published in Nature, the researchers explained how they developed polydicyclopentadiene (pDCPD), a form of thermoset plastic with cleavable bonds "within the strands of covalently crosslinked thermoset plastics" that can "impart degradability and potential recyclability." The material can then be broken down into a powder, which can be use to create more pDCPD. "Showing that you can take the degradation products and remake the same thermoset again using the same process is exciting," said Jeremiah Johnson, an MIT chemistry professor and the senior author of the study in an MIT press release. [MIT]

ARCHITECT's seven 2020 R+D Award winners include Walking Assembly, by Boston- and Ann Arbor–based Matter Design and global cement producer CEMEX. The series of eight concrete megaliths is designed to be maneuvered with seemingly effortless grace. [ARCHITECT]

Autodesk has acquired the construction workflow start-up Pype, hoping to "empower general contractors, subcontractors and owners to gain even more value from Autodesk Construction Cloud," according to the software developer's press release. But the company might need to also focus on its BIM products after leading AEC firms from around the world signed an open letter voicing concern for the increasing cost of Revit given its lack of development over time. The firms, which include Grimshaw, Zaha Hadid Architects, BVN, Rogers, Stirk, Harbour and Partners, Wilkinson Eyre Architects, state that, as practices representing thousands of Autodesk users and "a revenue stream ... of over $22m over the last 5 years," they've been plagued by a number of issues, including a "lack of scalability and product performance," which ultimately hampers their employees' creativity and productivity. "The practices involved in this initiative seek from Autodesk a transparent action plan that is customer-centric, non-adversarial, innovative, progressive, and deliverable," the firms write. "Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, costs were under significant scrutiny and the value added by software vendors is now being questioned as never before." [AEC Magazine]

Due to the current pandemic, the 2021 CES conference and trade show, originally scheduled for Las Vegas in January, will go virtual. "With the growing global health concerns about the spread of COVID-19, it is not possible to safely convene tens of thousands of people in Las Vegas in early January 2021 to meet and do business in person," states the event's website. "An all-digital CES 2021 will allow the entire tech community to safely share ideas and introduce the products that will shape our future." [CES]

More about Autodesk
Find products, contact information and articles about Autodesk