Innovative building will be focus of South Boston lab
Blocks from where Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston worked his first union construction job as a teenager on the South Boston Waterfront, the software company Autodesk plans to open an innovation lab that will focus on technologies that are changing the building industry.
Walsh plans to speak Monday evening at an event to announce the new facility, on Drydock Avenue in the Marine Industrial Park. It will house about 200 Autodesk employees who currently work in Waltham.
Autodesk, a California company that makes design software used by architects, contractors, and structural engineers, among others, will initially occupy 70,000 square feet on three floors. It has an option to occupy an additional 50,000 square feet, said vice president Jim Lynch.
The site will also house the new Building Innovation Learning and Design Space — the BUILD space. It will bring together students, entrepreneurs, and researchers to explore new tools and ways to make design and construction more efficient.
Lynch said people who use the BUILD Space will have access to laser cutters, programmable milling machines, robots, and other tools. They may look at possibilities like 3-D printing or mass-producing building elements — or entire buildings — as a way to control costs and improve the quality of construction projects.
“BUILD will allow entrepreneurs and students and people from industry to explore all kinds of new materials and processes,” he said.
Autodesk has had discussions with the building’s landlord, Jamestown Properties, about getting access to electrical, heating, and air conditioning systems, Lynch added, to test new sensor and control technologies that could make buildings more energy-efficient.
Autodesk’s new offices will also set aside space for several start-up companies, as part of a program called STIR that began in Waltham last year.
There will also be a “researchers-in-residence” program, Lynch said, offering academics roughly six months of access to the BUILD Space, Autodesk’s tools and technologies, and its employees’ expertise.
Autodesk plans to move into the space in October, though the BUILD facility will not open until next spring.