Reflections on BILT NA 2018

It has been nearly a month since we held our event in St. Louis. I wanted to take this moment to reflect on the event and its impact upon all of us.

Many would agree with me that the venue itself was one of the highlights. The Union Station Hotel was an incredible architectural and structural space. I caught more attendees walking around looking up than any other event we have held in North America. The long history of the building shows all of us how important it is to consider the long-term lifecycle of the things we design. It was wonderful to be in such an interesting space.

Our keynote speakers, Dr. Anita Sengupta and Sabin Howard, educated and motivated us. It was exciting to hear how Dr. Sengupta envisions how Hyperloop One could change so many aspects of our built environment in urban areas. And Sabin gave us a fascinating look at how the creative process still requires the human touch. Many appreciated the combination of technical and inspirational keynotes. Fair warning, it might be tough to top this benchmark!

I also want to thank the speakers that worked so hard to prepare materials and get them to us in time for the event. After all, your company sends you to events such as this to share what you learn with others in your firm. It is the materials that the speakers prepare, both presentations and handouts, that help you to pass on knowledge to the rest of your company. But, an event like BILT is not just about the materials. The speakers themselves are critical to motivating you and inspiring you. The best content will fall on deaf ears without a speaker to bring it to life. So, once again, thank you to all the speakers that delivered excellent content that you could use.

We also know that networking is important. This year’s event continued the grand tradition of bringing people together to discuss their common issues and innovative ideas. I heard so many stories of attendees that learned something cool from people that worked for similar companies. No NDAs were harmed in the making of this event! But sharing of ideas and solutions were found at every social function, even the teas between classes.

No one will forget the unique setting of the City Museum. I certainly have great memories of the 10-story slide! The venue showed us that inspiration, ideas, and fun can have a huge impact on many people. What a great way to start the networking events!

I was also impressed at how the theme of the Gala Dinner was embraced. I was worried that steampunk might be a bit esoteric for most BILT attendees, but you proved me wrong! I’ve had a long-time appreciation of steampunk. It was apparent that many of our attendees did too since they so enthusiastically dressed up for the night. My only regret… next year we will have a band we can dance to!

Finally, I want to reiterate something that I mentioned every time I was on the main stage. This event is not about us. It is about YOU. Yes, one of the BILT committee’s goals is to put on an event that they themselves would love to attend. But that’s not enough. The event really is about YOU. We want you to feel like your needs have been addressed. That your education has improved. That your problems are solved (or, at least, bandaged!) That you have been inspired, reinvigorated, and that you are part of a community of like-minded folks. If there is anything I can do for you to make the event better for YOU, just let me know. After all, you have my phone number now…

Robert Bell
Chairman, BILT North America

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