FORM Tech: Prescient Blends the Virtual and the Real

B Street LoHi is the first project completed using Prescient’s innovative design and construction platform. Image via Prescient. Faster, greener and more cost-effective building? Under the best of circumstances, you may wind up with two out of the three. To combine all three? You might as well be asking for a unicorn. Prescient, a software and structural system manufacturing company, is out to change that. 

The key to their vision is a standardized architecture, engineering and construction process that joins proprietary software with a patent-pending manufacturing system and a simplified installation routine. In the usual course of designing a building, explains John Vanker, Prescient’s CEO and a co-founder, architects and engineers work independently at the beginning of the process. Such a siloed system can inevitably lead to problems, “sometimes it takes an entire cycle of construction,” he notes, before they’re discovered. “Then, you have to call the engineer and architect and make changes. If we start at the beginning, we can reduce waste by eliminating potential conflicts.”

Given that the building system itself is standardized and consists of a limited number of components, waste at the construction level is further reduced, since they components are interrelated. “We can use that library to solve any structure,” notes Vanker. 

While the material itself—light-gauge, cold-rolled steel—isn’t new, “the way it’s put together is,” he says of the panel system they use. It offers some obvious green benefits. All the parts are manufactured elsewhere and sent to the job site. “We can control the process and reduce waste there, and everything we produce can be recycled.” he says.  

The firm recently completed its first building: a five-story apartment structure that’s 60,000-square-feet in Denver and is at work on a second with plans for more in the works. For Vanker, Prescient’s system places the company squarely in the midst of a paradigm shift. “It’s a disruptive technology in the industry,” he says, one with the potential to effect a sea change in the way many buildings are made. 

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