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Goings on at the Because We Cannery

Jeffrey McGrew's talk on building industry automation

The popular talk that our own Jeffrey McGrew gave at The Interval (the bar & event space we designed), has been picked up again!

The wonderful blog Laughing Squid has a post today, as the topic continues to be relevant and demanding conversation. 

We hope you enjoy it!


"Robots do my drafting," explains architect Jeffrey McGrew, then gives a tour of automation on the jobsite, a future that is already here. Plus: robot bulldozers! Watch this talk in full 

 On February 10, 02015 McGrew spoke at The Interval on "Talking with Robots about Architecture": how architects and builders use automation today and how they may use it tomorrow.

Jillian Northrup
Come see Jeffrey talk about automation in the building industry at Autodesk University 2017!

Honored to be included in this wonderful and broad event. Autodesk University is the conference for all things Autodesk, which means it's THE conference for most 3D and CAD related things you can think of.

I've been invited to give a talk on a topic that's dear to my heart, and one we've spent the last decade working with, and that's applied automation in the building industry.

It's called 'Talking with Robots about Architecture' and it's a more detailed, deeper, technical version of the talk I gave at The Interval a year or so ago.

I'll be presenting our ideas on how to think about automation when applying it to your job and business, where things are with automation in AEC, general approaches to take when automating things, and how to make yourself somewhat future-proof so you won't get automated out of a job yourself. With lots of case studies and real-world examples both from our business and the industry, I'm excited to be offering up what I hope is the best talk I've given yet on this subject.

So I'd love to see you at Autodesk University on Thursday!

Jeffrey McGrew
Join us this Friday, August 4th for our Open House!

Summer is here, so let's have a party!

It's our August open house this Friday, August 4th 5PM - 9PM

We'll be opening our doors and talking about our work, making new friends, snacking, and raising a glass to all the wonderful people we work with. Hopefully with no preceding backhoe incidents this time.

Please join us!

In the design office we'll be showcasing the biggest architecture project we've tackled to date. Exciting! We'll also demonstrate some new fancy CAD tools that help us make extremely complex organic shapes very quickly. While down in the shop we'll be showing off prototypes for a few products we'll be launching later this year as well as mock-ups of a complex wood rib ceiling we're making for a modern home. Kids welcome, but it is a shop and a party. Lots of sharp corners around here. And they might learn some interesting new words! Friday, August 4th 5PM - 9PM ish 2500 Kirkham St Oakland, CA 94607 (510) 545-9275 Click here for the Google Map. All are invited, so come on by! We'd love to see you.

Jeffrey McGrew
July open house canceled!

Sorry everyone, but tonight's open house is canceled due to a backhoe down the street taking out the power for the entire block. Exciting! We'll reschedule for next month.

Jeffrey McGrew
Talking with Robots about Architecture

When The Interval at Longnow launched its speaker series, we jumped at the opportunity.Giving a talk in a subject we are passionate about in a space we designed was a delightful privilege.

The Interval at Longnow has just launched it's updated website, and with it, videos of a select speakers. We are proud to be able to share this awesome presentation that Jeffrey McGrew gave: "Talking with Robots about Architecture"

Jeffrey McGrew is "the co-founder of Because We Can, the architecture/design firm that designed The Interval at Long Now, talks about the future of building: automation, communication, and whether "robots" will change everything. An informed and realistic overview of how architects and builders use automation today and how they may use it tomorrow."

Jillian Northrup
Faceted Ceiling Design

Earlier this year we completed a faceted ceiling design in a vibrant downtown Oakland office.These faceted panels were designed to cover up the installed ceiling infrastructure, help with office acoustics and add visual interest.


The complex ceiling panels had to integrate into the new infrastructure being put in place. Working closely with the owners and the other contractors involved in the renovation, we used 3D scanning & BIM management to make the project a success.

C:\Users\Jeffrey McGrew\Documents\Mosaic_JeffreyMcGrew5619

The panels were created in smaller units so they could be easily brought into the space.


A pattern of perforations were cut into the panels for aesthetic interest and acoustics. Sound absorbing material behind the perforations help with this open office sound issues.


Bold gold and white colors now cover the ceiling in a dramatic effect.


Now a dramatic effect as the ceiling is in place. Bright colors reflect light downward to create a brighter office without harsh lighting. The bounce light off the panels is a soft light, the panels are beautiful to look at and the sound acoustic material helps with office noise. Form and function working well together make for another successful office space!

Jillian Northrup
Why can't we make buildings the way we make cars? A short clip from Jeffery's talk on automation in construction

So why can't we make buildings the way we make cars? Here's a short clip addressing that from Jeffrey's larger talk 'Talking with Robots about Architecture' he gave at The Interval back in February of 2015. Later this year the whole talk will be online along with many other wonderful talks given at the Internal over the last few years. But in the mean time you can find a much shorter version here, or if you've got a venue, Jeffrey would love to come and give this talk again. Enjoy!

Jeffrey McGrew
Join us this Friday, March 3rd for our Open House!

It's time for our March Open House! This Friday, March 3rd from 5PM - 9PM

We'll be opening our doors and dancing (with robot arms), drinking, snacking, talking, making new friends, and raising a glass to all the wonderful people we work with. Please join us!

In the design office we'll be showcasing some recently completed architecture and design-build projects, along with our new 3D scanning and real-time walkthrough technology that lets you walk around the inside of the building before it's built.

While down in the shop we'll be demonstrating our newly expanded capacity to digitally fabricate very complex shapes in sheet metal.

Kids welcome, but it is a shop and a party. Lots of sharp corners around here. And they might learn some interesting new words!

Friday, March 3rd 5PM - 9PM ish
2500 Kirkham St
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 545-9275

Click here for the Google Map.

All are invited, so come on by! We'd love to see you.

Jeffrey McGrew
Big wall, Big Sign

A really big wall needs a really big sign! And this really big sign now adorns the really big wall at Clifbar in Emeryville, CA. This now covered wall is a nice addition to this large common room used for all hands meetings.


We love supporting our local client's renovation needs, and Clifbar is always up to something interesting! Working with the aesthetics of Clifbar in mind, we collaborated with the Clifbar team to come up with this raw plywood finish, lightly color tinted in three different tones. This gave the sign a subdued patchwork assembled look that goes with the Clifbar branding.


Installing this piece up high was a big tall job, but nothing we can't handle. Just another big job for a big wall!

Jillian Northrup
BWC NewCo session - Feb 7th

We are getting excited for another year of being involved in the Bay Area NewCo event! We will be hosting a morning session on Feb. 7th at 9:30 AM -- at our main office in Oakland. It will be a fun & engaging hour. Jillian and Jeffrey will be giving a tour of the office & fabrication facility, as well as giving a presentation of the back end of Because We Can. We'll talk about how we work together in house and with outside contractors, using the best tech we can get our hands on to coordinate our projects accurately and efficiently: an ever moving target in the construction world.

See the full schedule of events and host companies here. Get 25% off ticketsby using our promo code: BayHC

Hope to see you there & here!

Jillian Northrup
Reclaimed Wood Reception Desk

Here is a fun project we did for a neighbor of ours just down the street. To help them update their office, we designed and fabricated this large reception desk using reclaimed wood brought down from Oregon. The style was perfect to match the raw aesthetic they have in their office.


Laying out the pattern for the boards and getting the corners tight and clean was a prime focus for this design.


We love having our fabrication shop as part of our design firm. It allows us to be fussy about the details, and make small design changes quickly to assure every piece of our projects comes out as beautiful as it can, while also being the perfect for the space.


No matter the size of the project, we enjoy sweating the details. Seeing a space that we designed, filled with our striking, beautifully crafted pieces is the best.

Jillian Northrup
Happy 2017- May your year be filled with delight

We had many ups and downs in 2016, but overall it was a year filled with great projects and great people. We ended it with a fun new event we hope will become a tradition, transforming our workshop space into a wonderfully eclectic dinner party venue for a night. And it was super fun! Here's to an exciting future- may your year be filled with delight at every corner.

Jillian Northrup
Jeffrey's Ignite talk on Automation in the Construction Industry

My talk from the amazing Long Now Member Summit event is now live! It's a very brief 5 minute Ignite talk, crammed full of my thoughts on Automation in the Construction Industry. It's a much slimmed down version of a much longer talk I gave in 2015 at The Interval, and a topic I've been more than obsessed with.

Humbled and honored to share the stage with so many other brilliant people at this event! You can see all the talks as they are posted here.

Jeffrey McGrew
Leveling up again

We recently bought a new tool for our fabrication shop that let us get more creative with a design for one of our commercial clients. It is always exciting to expand our capabilities, and as a team of designers, we see the additional ideas that are now that much more attainable with our new tool set. Needless to say, the ideas have been flowing!

Our new tool is a bender for sheet metal. With this in combination of our CNC production shop we have been able to make complex forms for our current project.


The advancement on tools like this enable small boutique shops like us to keep production like this in-house, which enables the budget to remain reasonable, and our designs to get more interesting.


We are excited about our new capability and where it will take us in the new year!

Jillian Northrup
Hospitality Design Showcases our Latest Interior Design Project: The Port Workspaces

Hospitality Design's The Challenge of Creativity Gallery is showcasing The Port Workspaces interior we finished earlier this year. Filled with creative solutions to seating, visual separations, and sound insulation, we are very proudd that this project is getting so much press!

Striking seating at the entry of the building allows for members to congregate together in larger groups or work alone. The variety in the seating can accommodate a variety of activities, perfect for this location; and is a visual draw from the street!


Creative solutions for sound issues in this open area include a large fountain, which itself has integrated seating.


Shipping containers turned into conference rooms, for yet another creative solution for this co-working office interior.


Two more floors of co-working space designed with a variety of seating styles for every desired work environment.


And to top it off.... awesome roof deck!


Jillian Northrup
Come see us at East Bay Mini Maker Faire

We have a booth this year at East Bay Mini Maker Faire, which is THIS SUNDAY! (Oct 23)We are going to be showing off some really great stuff we've been designing and building. We hope to see you there!

You can get discounted tickets with our Maker Discount Code ' BWC ' -- Buy Tickets!

Event Details: Sunday, October 23rd, 2016 10 am—5 pm Park Day School campus + Studio One Arts Center 360-42nd Street at Opal, Oakland

Here is a sneak peak of one of the pieces we'll be showing off...


Jillian Northrup
East Bay Mini MakerFaire - This Sunday: Oct 23!

We are incredibly excited to be part of the 7th Annual East Bay Mini Maker Faire, coming up Sunday, October 23!Placed on the adjacent campuses of Park Day School and Studio One Art Center in Oakland's Temescal district.

Use our Maker Discount Code ' BWC ' with for 15% off ticket prices! We're going to be showing off some new product ideas and new technology workflow. Here is our write up for the Faire:

Combining Art & Technology: Making products the 'Because We Can' way “We are developing products the same way we run our architectural jobs: integrating technology and art to create designs with many iterations and lots of collaboration. Using technological design and smart programming as a tool for making these products, we have come up with a line of work that can be integrated into any space. Come see how we take a product from idea to production, and feel free to give us some comments while you’re here!

We look forward to see you there!


Jillian Northrup
Catch Jeffrey at today's San Francisco Revit User's Group

Catch Jeffrey at today's San Francisco Revit User's Group, hosted by Ideate, where he'll be speaking with our good friend Doug Smith on using BIM for large-scale Burning Man projects. Doug, a BIM manager at Woods Bagot and prior to that SOM, and Jeffrey from BecauseWeCan, have both volunteered their time and technical skills to help with building Burning Man's yearly Temples. The Temple is a non-denominational place for reflection and remembrance that is a large part of the Burning Man tradition, a big project, and a huge team effort of many people who come together to build something that will only live the duration of the event, to be burned at the end.

Here's the link for the invite for today's event in San Francisco.

If you can't make the San Francisco event, there's the same event next week in Oakland. Here's the link to the Oakland event invite.

Hope to see you there!

Jeffrey McGrew
Excited to be giving a talk at the Long Now Member Summit

Extremely proud to have been chosen as an Ignite speaker at the Long Now Member Summit.

We'll be at the Long Now's first ever member convention. With an incredible line up it looks to be an event worth joining for if you're not a member, and one certainly not to miss if you area. I've been chosen to give a short Ignite talk on a topic I dearly love, Automation in the Construction Industry. The talks will be streamed online as they happen on Tuesday, October 4th.

Hope to see you at the Summit!

Jeffrey McGrew
Throw back to 2006!

Today's Throw Back Friday goes way back! Almost 10 years ago we were working on this office remodel for Three Rings Design. It was such a fun, creative project with a wonderful team of designers to collaborate with. We had a such fun working with you guys! And together we created a really magnificent space that the staff loved to work in, and we loved to visit.

10 years later we are thinking of you! "The Nautilus" space will live on in our memories and, of course, these photos!

Each desk with a different design- we made a template so each designer was able to draw their own desk! IMG_5890.JPG

A bar to fit a fictional submarine- complete with kegerator and bubbling sides... IMG_6239.JPG

Tentacle attack(!!) room for game demos & play. IMG_6256.JPG

Underwater carved archway scenes. IMG_9390.JPG

Robot roll-up door in the secret room.... IMG_1078.JPG

And of course, a parlor..... for more sophisticated meetings. IMG_6216.JPG

You can see our full portfolio page on this project here.

Jillian Northrup