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Georgia Tech College of Design

Formerly known as the College of Architecture


New Director of Georgia Tech’s Digital Building Laboratory Aims for Big Data and Intelligent Infrastructure

Dennis Shelden, the co-founder of Gehry Technologies and previous Associate Professor of the Practice at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is now Director for the Digital Building Laboratory (DBL) at Georgia Tech.

"Dennis Shelden is widely recognized as a thought leader in the development and application of digital technology in architectural design and construction," said Dean Steve French.

"He is uniquely qualified to build upon the strong foundation that Chuck Eastman has created at Georgia Tech. His appointment will assure that Georgia Tech will continue to be a leader in the digital transformation of the Architecture/Engineering/Construction (AEC) industry."

Eastman founded the DBL in 2009 as a College of Architecture research center designed to connect departments and colleges across Georgia Tech’s campus. The DBL undertakes strategic industry studies, provides test beds for new technologies, promotes interdisciplinary education and collaborative research between university units and industries.  

“Chuck is considered the founder of the Building Information Modeling paradigm, so it’s an honor to be working with him, an honor to take over this program, and certainly big shoes to fill,” said Shelden, who has known Eastman for twenty years.

Forward-looking initiatives in the building profession today require the kind of data standards and digital foundations that Eastman, a professor in the School of Architecture, has spent his entire career building.

“The success of BIM and the data standards Chuck has championed has created a reality where BIM data is proliferating exponentially, and can now be scaled up to the campus or city level. It’s also increasingly an integral part of the delivered project and can now be connected to building sensors, embedded devices and become part of people’s digital experience of their environments”

For example, think about how you use the map app on your phone to understand spatial data. If you have a destination, map data combined with personal location information is part of navigating the city. BIM can do the same thing for an entire block of buildings, and it can tell you about every floor of every building on that block.

Shelden hopes to connect to Georgia Tech’s facilities program and the Atlanta area developers and city officials, using BIM to model Atlanta, aspiring to aid firefighting and lifesaving efforts, even planning and development.

To do that, Shelden wants to set DBL’s sights on Georgia Tech’s high performance computing community. “Big data” is increasingly a reality in the field of architecture and in AEC firms.

“Under Professor Eastman’s leadership, the DBL has become the foremost American institution in AEC data modeling and interoperability standards,” Shelden said. The next big challenge for DBL will be coming up with advanced computing capabilities that can perform analytics and optimization of the growing data in building models.

As Geographic Information Systems (GIS) championed by the School of City and Regional Planning and Center for Geographic Information Systems (CGIS) continue to develop, they converge with BIM technologies. He hopes to develop strong collaborations with these College of Architecture units in addition to fostering long-standing ties with the School of Building Construction and the College of Computing.

Shelden earned a Bachelor of Science in Architecture, a Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering and a Ph.D. in Design and Computation from MIT. He is a licensed architect in the state of California, where he has worked with Gehry Partners and later Gehry Technologies since the late 1990s.

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  • Dennis Shelden, DBL Director

For More Information Contact

Ann W. Hoevel
Director of Communications
Georgia Tech College of Architecture