This year's PCBC conference keynotes and sessions brought a very diverse range of speakers that many would have not have expected in the building conference. Included were people from Google Ventures (GV), airbnb, a past writer of TIME magazine along with developers, real estate economists, industry executive officers and consultants.
Wednesday kicked off with Josh Cooper Ramo's Keynote on The Seventh Sense. He begun by illustrating the reality which many of us are facing: even though we are out of the recession, there's not sense of "We're back!" but instead something else fundamentally. Ramo reveals that our world today is much different from our pre-great-recession days in that we are facing a societal fundamental shift very much like the Enlightenment and Industrial revolutions; in our growing information based world, the power and influence of networks is coming into play and that many of the world's once respected institutions are finding themselves powerless with their previously established methodology.
In one of PCBC's quicktalks, Leon Segal introduced the attendees the subject of Design Thinking. Instead of taking a project approach of 'lets create a gadget,' with the use of empathy, design thinking's focus becomes "What do people need?" Those who have worked with us know we are very familiar with empathy (being one our core values) so we were excited to see others evangelize it in the work environment.
Some of the most attended talks of PCBC was the Future Development Trends panel and Chip Conley's Keynote speaking on airbnb. In fact, they had every seat taken and some of us had to sit along the walls. Conley showed of the most interesting facts on airbnb: it didn't destroy hospitality industry but instead it served the untapped market of 'global nomads' who didn't want to spend 2+ weeks in a hotel but also didn't want sign a month/year lease in a house or apartment. His main lesson on the sharing economy is to focus on "how to take the slack resources and make them utilized more efficiently." He estimates there are 35 Million rooms and homes around the world that are primarily empty.
The packed Future Development Trends panel engaged the audience with many topics such as driverless cars, the missing middle housing development and what to do with the lack of greenfields for California housing development. One insight brought up is that venture capital in Los Angeles is flowing to the most walkable areas of the county and that there is 40,000 acres nearby LA's transit stations. Some more creative ideas are reimagining retail malls or creating "half" houses so when a family grows they can expand it easily.
The last Keynote on Thursday was John Ellis on the topic of Building in the Year 2025 and Beyond. Having a strong background in technology, he brings to the audience 5 Things You Must Know: 3D Printing, Robots, Drones, Autonomy, Privacy and the Right to Be Forgotten. Some of you may have recalled our post on the Robotic Bricklayer, Ellis mentioned that and other developments such as a robot in Holland that built a canal bridge while crawling across what it had built. More advances in this building technology is coming down the pipeline and some will completely shift how people will look at and view housing. Two facts about Drones for you to think about; 90% of car driving trips are under 10 miles and this January over 15,000 drones were sold.
There are many interesting technological trends now in the building industry and PCBC brought together great speakers for their sessions to give their experienced insight on how it can impact us. Next year, PCBC 2017 is coming down to San Diego and we look forward to seeing what it will bring.