US firm buys Frank Gehry's technology company
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Frank Gehry's technology company bought by SketchUp owners

News: American technology firm Trimble is partnering with Frank Gehry to "transform the construction industry" through a combination of software and hardware development, and is buying the architect's own IT company.

Trimble is the owner of the popular 3D drawing software SketchUp and also specialises in on-site location and surveying technologies. It believes that forming a "strategic alliance" with Gehry and acquiring his software company will help connect the off-site design and on-site delivery processes through software and hardware.

In a statement released today, Trimble said that the partnership would "transform the construction industry by further connecting the office to on-site construction technologies".

"Gehry Technologies has been key in allowing Frank to realise the potential of his designs without compromising cost or schedule," said Steven W Berglund, CEO of Trimble. "Together, we expect that our common commitment and our combined capabilities will accelerate the adoption of technology in this trillion-dollar industry with resulting breakout benefits." He did not disclose the amount Trimble had paid for the acquisition.

Frank Gehry's Fondation Louis Vuitton gets set to open in Paris
Frank Gehry's Fondation Louis Vuitton. Photograph by Iwan Baan.

Gehry Technologies originally grew out of a desire to develop bespoke 3D design solutions to help deliver Gehry's complicated designs, using and adapting software and techniques from the aerospace and automotive industries.

It became a stand-alone company in 2002, and supplies a consultancy service, a collaborative design platform and building information modelling solutions to the architecture, engineering and construction industries. Its client list includes Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Herzog & de Meuron, Jean Nouvel, Coop Himmelb(l)au and Zaha Hadid.

In 2011, it announced the completion of a $10 million funding drive with rival architecture and engineering software firms Autodesk and Dassault Systemes and announced the creation of a new advisory board including Hadid; Patrik Schumacher; chairman of SOM David Childs; Wolf D Prix, founder of Coop Himmelb(l)au; Moshe Safdie; and UN Studio founder Ben van Berkel.

Gehry Technologies will now become part of Trimble's Engineering and Construction arm.

"This merger is a dream for me," said Gehry. "In Trimble, we find a partner who has like-minded ambitions and goals to create efficiencies in the AEC industry that allow the creativity of the architectural profession to flourish and deliver value-added creative solutions within the realities of our economic times. I am very excited to expand our mission with a great new partner."

Frank Gehry's New York by Gehry. Photograph by dbox.

Trimble is best known as a manufacturer of GPS devices, laser rangefinders and navigation systems, and focuses on providing location-based software and hardware to help manage assets and materials outside of an office environment. It also provides wireless networks to relay information gathered on-site to other workers and offices.

Trimble bought SketchUp – a popular modelling tool among architects – from Google in 2012. Earlier this year the company also purchased Manhattan Software, a London-based provider of real estate and facility management software.

It said that combining its services with Gehry Technologies' building information modelling, analytics and visualisation tools would improve access to data for architects, engineers, contractors and owners and make the delivery of projects more efficient.

At time of press there was no comment on Gehry Technologies' existing partnerships with Autodesk and Dassault.