DIRTT Featured in Metropolis Magazine

Metropolis Magazine explores how manufacturer, DIRTT is using technology to revolutionize the interior construction industry.  DIRTT's interactive software program shifts modular construction away from its one-size-fits-all straitjacket.  

Until recently, the expectation of modular construction was often undermined by the reality. What seemed straightforward and simple on the page could quickly unravel on-site. Even systems that had some variation could be “customized” only in a limited range of options. All that changed ten years ago when DIRTT Environmental Solutions—the Calgary, Canada–based modular systems company—married cutting-edge technology with lean manufacturing, to produce architectural interiors that combined the ease and efficiency of modular construction with the style and precision of custom-built work.

The breakthrough for DIRTT—an acronym for “doing it right this time”—was the development of a proprietary software program called ICE, which creates interactive environments that allow clients to assess, in real time, virtually every aspect of an architectural interior project. “With ICE, clients can sit down with the sales rep and make adjustments to the space, color, configuration, finishes, and size of the modular, and instantly receive back the information they need,” says Mark Greffen, a member of the ICE executive team. “What’s the price going to be? What are the materials involved? Are there long lead-time items? Are there some things that may be incompatible or may need some on-site solutions to deal with them?” 

After adjustments are made, clients are then given either a shared model downloaded through the cloud or via ICEvision, which provides a video flythrough of the space—complete with annotations and music—that they then take back and share with their stakeholders.

In ten short years, DIRTT has gone from a scrappy Canadian start-up concentrating on smaller projects to a newly minted publicly traded company with four manufacturing facilities, annual revenues of $140 million, and an impressive project list that includes work for Google, Quicken Loans, Suncor, and John Deere.

The initial goal for the company, however, was driven by a more prosaic idea: Mogens Smed, a longtime veteran of the modular furniture industry, believed there was a market opportunity for customizable walls. It’s a goal that seems self-evident now, but a decade ago was still a stretch. Barrie Loberg—a colleague of Smed’s at Evans Consoles, where the two worked before forming DIRTT with another former colleague, product developer Geoff Gosling—had a potential solution: a new software based on technology cribbed from the video game industry. “It took him six months to convince me it would work,” Smed says. “But I realized that this would completely reinvent the construction industry. It was something that had never been done before.” 

Read entire article at Metropolis Magazine