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Why New Daedalus?

Daedalus was the mythical great architect and artificer of the classical world. Today, embedded intelligence is enabling the most profound changes in the way we create and use buildings since his day.

Building Intelligence meets the Intelligent Building. The Intelligent Building negotiates with the Intelligent Grid. How will this transform how we interact with the physical world?

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Saturday
Jun022007

Daedalus: Architect, Engineer, Craftsman

Keep those emails and questions coming. Several ask "Why New Daedalus?". Some observe that Daedalus crashed into the sea. (That was his son.) Some remember Daedalus as a literary magazine. Well here is the myth of Daedalus.

As in all myths, the ones of Daedalus are varied. He was an artisan descended from the founding royal family of Athens, and was considered the best craftsman and architect of his day. He was the first sculptor able to create lifelike arms separate from the body. His designs have at one time or another been associated with every significant architectural masterpiece in Athens. His skill was said to be a direct gift from Athena.

He fled the law in Athens, and ended up in Crete, where he designed and built the largest and most elaborate building of the day, the Labyrinth. There he was not only the king’s architect, but he built a naughty device for Minos’ daughter, the end result of which was the half-man, half bull Minotaur.

He, like many who work in Facilities Operations, had the best view of the Labyrinth, in a high tower, but could never leave. He crafted wings of feathers and wax to allow him to escape with his son Icarus – but it ended badly for the son. After his escape, he designed and built the most famous structures in Sicily.

Another version has him assisting Theseus in finding his way through the Labyrinth. In this version, he returned to Athens with Theseus and built more of the acropolis.

Daedalus, then, was the best Architect, Builder, and Craftsman of the classical world. He was the archetype for architects and engineers, for contractors and craftsman. That is why I invoke Daedalus.

But why New? From Daedalus's rude sketches until today, drafting was refined and automated, but unchanged. Mechanical systems were wrought by clever craftsman, but not fully designed.

Today, modeling is radically changing the way we design buildings. Building systems are designed to be interactive and responsive. Information Technology is embedded in every step of the design / build / operate life-cycle. We even expect the building to interact intelligently with the outside world. Intelligent response is becoming pervasive in buildings.

This fundamental change is causing a profound shift in how we work with capital assets. This is arguable the biggest change in design since the days, and methods, of Daedalus.

This is why I call this site New Daedalus.

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