What's happening now at Because We Can

East Bay Mini MakerFaire - This Sunday!

We'll be presenting at East Bay Mini Maker Fair this Sunday, Oct 18th at 12:15PM
Come on by and say hello!

We'll be presenting in the Magnolia Bldg Great Room on the "MAD SKILLZ STAGE"
That alone should make you want to come see us.

Our talk will be on Making to Make: How Creating Our Own Custom Tools Helps Us Make Great Things

We would love to see you. This is a great smaller Maker Faire that is interesting to the whole family.
Sunday, Oct 18th 10AM-5PM.
Park Day School, 360 42nd St, Oakland

Use the discount code: MAKERFRIEND for 15% off tickets - but you must buy tickets BEFORE midnight Sat night as this is no good day of the show.

Maker Faire

New Dolby Headquarters

The new Dolby Headquarters on Market street in downtown San Francisco has been getting some great press.
We were excited to work on the project, helping to fill the building with walls of Dolby relevant art!

Our projects were mentioned in these recent articles. One in The Chronicle and one in Fast Company.

You can read more about the 16 story office building filled with commissioned art, and see images and descriptions of our pieces in CNET and Business Insider.

To see all the pieces we did for this skyscraper of a building, check out our Dolby Art Walls project page.

IMG_9957

Fall 2015 BWC Open House This Friday

It's time to celebrate the fall, and all the great projects we've been working on. So stop by and join us in the fun!

We are opening our doors for Because We Can's Fall 2015 open house.

We'll be starting early at 5PM and going until 8PM-ish.

We'll be dancing, drinking, snacking, talking, and showing off great projects recently completed and some currently underway. It's a great time to drop by and talk shop with us, too, if you want to learn more about what we do and how we do it.

Kids welcome, but it is a shop and a party. Lots of sharp corners. And they might learn some interesting new words!

Friday, October 2nd

5PM - 8PM

2500 Kirkham St
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 922-8846
Click here for the Google Map.

All are invited, so come on by! We'd love to see you.

Knob Wall Video

A few weeks ago we finished up this cool Knob Wall project we designed for Dolby's new headquarters in San Francisco.
The wall has 1287 knobs along a 40 ft wall. A few of the knobs on the corner control the bottom LED strip, making it a fun, interactive piece.
Here's a quick video and some making of photos!


IMG_9256
IMG_9309
IMG_9778

Come visit us at NewCo Oakland!

We're very proud to have been included in the NewCo Oakland event.

NewCo is an awesome event that celebrates creative companies. It's sort of a 'distributed conference', where you get to tour more companies than you'd actually have time to see, hear how they do what they do, and meet lots of amazing people.

We'll be opening our doors at 9 AM on October 8th to show off our robot-enabled shop and give a brief talk on one of our favorite topics: Empowerment through digital fabrication and design! We'll be going over our special seven-step process we use to create amazing buildings, interiors, furniture and art using these incredible tools.

We'll also do an interactive demo of on-demand fabrication, and show you how it's truly possible now to make almost anything locally, quickly, and totally custom— for the workplace or the home.

Click Here to register. Space is limited!

It All Comes Together

At Because We Can, we like to integrate fun and interesting details into our projects. We are primarily a design studio, but by keeping the more elaborate fabrication in house, we have been able to push our projects aesthetics into creative areas, while maintaining the budget. We try to keep everything in house to keep costs down, but sometimes it makes sense to have another shop help with the fabrication.

By working with multiple machines & shops at the same time, we can be efficient and productive. Because of our digital BIM workflow, we can know that it will all come together.

For the Asbury Discovery Center in MS, we sent out the stainless pieces of these window frames to get waterjet cut by another shop.
We fabricated the rest of the parts in our shop, made of wood and exterior rated plastic.
IMG_5452

Here the window frame is shown in it's final assembly of stainless steel, black plastic and wooden spacers (unseen).
IMG_5439

This rolling bar is another great example. With its gear driven extending wings it had stainless steel parts throughout for both decorative and functional use. The stainless steel parts were cut by a waterjet shop near by. The wooden carcass and other elements were fabricated in our shop, then it was then all assembled like a kit of parts.
IMG_7278

The stainless bar pieces, laid out and ready for assembling.
IMG_7274

Assembling the bar goes quickly and easily, because everything is modeled to high detail, and then the pieces are created off of that model.
IMG_7279

We love adding these details to our projects. We are able to end up with a rich, fun aesthetic that might be too cost prohibitive otherwise. But with the integrated use of BIM and our in house fabrication team, as well as the local shops we use regularly, we are able to get the aesthetic we're hoping while maintaining the budget (and the fun!) of the project.
IMG_6358

Oakland Commercial Project

We're really excited about this project we've been working on in Oakland.
It is part office space, part restaurant, part hang out.
The designs have been really coming along, and soon we'll have lots of stuff to show with lots of information.
For now, here is a sneak at some images.

This is a view of the office. Bringing in some warm textures and plant life to liven up this bunker like space.
M:\BWC Bucket\projects\The Port\Revit Project\Families\ThePort_V2_JeffreyMcGrew5619 - 3D View - OP 5 - Center Lounges.pdf

A cafe design in it's preliminary form. Using more of the modular interlocking wood triangles to create separation between areas.

2

More early office designs as we are flushing out how the space will look and feel.
M:\BWC Bucket\projects\The Port\Revit Project\Families\ThePort_V2_JeffreyMcGrew5619 - 3D View - OP 5 - At Front Door Looking In

Finally- the outside terrace! We're very excited about this space. We've been working very closely with this client to create spaces that are highly functional and uniquely designed.
And this terrace is no exception. While this outside terrace is all fun and hang out time, a lot has gone into the planning and flow of this design to create an incredibly usable functional fun hang out area. What's not to like!?!

M:\BWC Bucket\Shared Revit Library\Windows\ThePort_Third Floor_JeffreyMcGrew5619.pdf

Corporate Art Walls

We are in the middle of designing a series of Art Walls for the new Dolby corporate headquarters in San Francisco.
The two that went up last week were fun visual interest walls that add relevant interest to the space.
An 18 floor sky rise in downtown San Francisco, we are just one of a number of artists working on this project.

This ear wall is on a floor where many Dolby engineers sit. Referencing their work in a playful, colorful design of poised ears, listening to the magic of sound.

We worked with another artist who cast the many ears in different colors. Then we needed to place them in perfect rows on the sheets.

After drawing the design up on the computer and cutting the sheets here in our CNC run shop, we created jigs and straight lines to assure each ear was perfectly oriented.

The combination of digital fabrication and smart people on the floor makes for a fun, stunning piece of art, exactly conveying its desired intention.

This next piece was comprised of two 'movie poster' walls that went up on a different floor, showcasing just a few of the movies Dolby has worked on over the years.
These were created with a wheat paste technique, giving the final aesthetic a textured, overlaid look as you would see on the street.

IMG_9500

IMG_9490

They are both located in high traffic areas, adding relevant interest and starting fun conversations.

IMG_9486

The process of creating these was messy but fun. We created these on individual large panels,
allowing us to bring them to the site completed and transform the space overnight.

IMG_9397crop

IMG_9510

BecauseWeDynamo, a set of Fabrication Nodes for Project Dynamo and Revit

We here at Because We Can love leveraging technology and creating our own unique way of working to make great things. While we’ve developed a decent amount of in-house software to help our work over the years, I’m very excited and proud to begin sharing some of that work with you, with the initial release of “BecauseWeDynamo”.

&

It’s a set of custom-made Nodes for Project Dynamo focused on fabrication. You can find it in the Package Manager in Dynamo under BecauseWeDynamo and the open-source code is hosted here on GitHub.

A wonderful example of what this is all about is shown with the complex triangle walls of our recently completed Shipping Container Lounge project. The organic, flowing interior walls are made up of hundreds of unique triangles joined together to make a fluid, undulating, expressive (yet affordable!) surface.

Making something like this without some automation is almost impossible; the complexity can be hard to manage both in the design and in the building. So we used what’s called in our industry “Generative Design” where the combination of parametric 3D models and intelligent functional programming are used together to have the computer generate the design for you. You set up the rules and the smarts, and let the computer figure out the rest.

Autodesk Revit is wonderful at producing parametric models. We used it to made a special triangle object or ‘Family’ as they are called in Revit that you can flex using math into whatever size and configuration you need. You set the location of it’s three corner points, and the Family produces a flat triangle with radius tips, an offset ‘gap’ between it and the triangle next to it, and even proper placement for the joining hardware and more. This let us ‘hang’ these Adaptive Families off of 3D splined curves, making it easy to control the complex surface of the wall. Rather than model every triangle, we simply can push and pull control points on the splines, and have all the triangles model themselves.

However, just having a nice model of something is only the first 1/3rd of actually getting it built. Managing the production and assembly of hundreds of unique parts can be very daunting! This is where automation via functional programming is a huge help. We needed some way to export every triangle in a format that works with our CNC Router, and we need to label every triangle for ease of assembly. Doing it manually would take forever and is error-prone. Much better to produce a ‘script’ and let the computer automate that task for us!

Project Dynamo is a ‘functional visual scripting language’ for creating, manipulating, and automating all sorts of design data by non-programmers. Rather than write code from scratch, or call on existing libraries, and produce a stand-alone application like a software developer might, tools like Dynamo let us easily create one-off workflow solutions to automate small repetitive tasks and model impressively complex objects. It works fanatically well with Autodesk Revit, and thus was an obvious choice. Plus we really dig it, and dig the people working on it, so it was a joy to use.

Rather than write code, where the ‘flow’ of the program is abstract and non-visual, tools like Dynamo let you ‘draw’ your program. Perfect for visual designers like us! By connecting various Nodes together, you ‘wire’ together a solution for your project-specific problems, iteratively working your way through it as the code runs live and you see the immediate results.

Now, Dynamo is rather new, and it didn’t have all the Nodes we needed for this project. So we decided to create our own custom Nodes to scratch our own itches, and shared them openly for other designer-fabricators to make use of. For as we have for years now we release most of what we do under a creative-commons license.

So one thing our custom Nodes help do is parse the Revit model, label every triangle, lay them all out flat, and then export them to our CNC router for production. Every triangle is not only labeled, each edge of the triangle is labeled so you can easily figure out what edges go together. It made short work of this problem, and helped us make this wonderful and complex design efficiently and effectively.

Within BecauseWeDynamo you’ll find Nodes for part labeling, DXF exporting (with proper true curves!), mesh topology walking, edge labeling, and even our own custom old-school line-based pen-plotter style font suitable for CNC production. We’ve also got some auto-sectioning tools ala 123D Make, and are currently working on Nodes to help automate shop drawing production and development of complex surfaces. You’ll find on the GitHub site some great working examples, and we’ll be developing more samples, how-tos, and actual physical case study objects as well.

Our ongoing goal with this project is to make the fabrication of elements in Project Dynamo and Revit easier and more efficient; thus empowering all designers to be able to make great things like we do.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - blogs