Buildings are essentially constructed the same way today that they were 50 years ago, whether they house single families, multi-story offices or commercial high-rises. Some architect comes up with an idea. He puts it down on paper. He hands off those paper diagrams to the building contractor. And that building contractor, once he agrees to a price, is then charged with converting someone else’s two-dimensional vision into a functioning home or office building – on budget, on time, and by code.
“The process is almost exactly the same,” says Phil Bernstein, a lecturer at the Yale School of Architecture and the vice president of industry strategy and relations at the engineering software firm Autodesk. “The way we build a skyscraper today is not radically different from the way the Empire State Building was built.”