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ICON Unveils New Construction Technologies for Lowest Cost, Fastest, and Most Sustainable Way to Build at Scale

By Brooke Bauguess

During SXSW, Leading Construction Technology Company ICON Announces A Multi-story 3D Printer, A New AI Tool for Architecture and Project Management, A Digital Catalog of Home Designs, and Advanced Low-carbon Concrete

AUSTIN, TX, March 12, 2024 – At a large event during SXSW® dubbed “Domus Ex Machina” ICON, the pioneer of advanced construction technologies and large-scale 3D printing, announced a new suite of products and technologies designed to further automate construction including a radical new robotic printer that enables multi-story construction, a new low-carbon building material, a digital catalog for residential architecture with more than 60 ready-to-build home designs, and an AI Architect™ for home design and construction. ICON believes that together these technologies make its construction technology platform a faster, more sustainable way to build high-quality housing affordably around the world.

“This is the moment we’ve really been working for these past six years,” said Jason Ballard, ICON Co-Founder and CEO. “When we launched the company and the first permitted 3D-printed house in 2018 during SXSW, we set out to both decrease the cost and increase the quality of building instead of choosing one or the other. We didn’t want to just be the best at 3D printing, we wanted to be the best at building, period. Now, I believe we can say that is a reality. I am so proud of the work ICON has done to get to where we are today– not only the promise, but the reality of technology, architecture and materials that will allow us to build better than anyone in the world.”

ICON’s new suite of robotics, software and materials include:

Phoenix™: ICON’s new multi-story robotic construction system introduces the capability of printing an entire building enclosure including foundations and roof structures. By increasing speed and size and decreasing setup time and the number of required operators, this advanced robotic system will reduce ICON printing costs by half. ICON is now taking orders for projects using Phoenix starting at $25/square foot for wall systems or $80/square foot including foundation and roof. This cost to build is lower than the most recent publicly available data for conventional construction of wall systems*. This wall system cost would represent a savings of up to $25,000 for the average American home versus conventional construction. The first engineering prototype of Phoenix has completed a 27-foot-tall architectural demonstration structure, now on display in Austin, TX.

CODEX™: ICON’s digital catalog of ready-to-print home architecture features more than 60 designs across five collections: Texas modern, fire resilient, storm resilient, affordable, and avant garde. The aim of CODEX is to make high-design and high-performance residential architecture available at all price points. CODEX allows builders, developers, and home buyers to build with ICON quickly and affordably using world-class architecture. ICON’s aim is for CODEX to be the most comprehensive digital catalog of buildable home designs in the world. It empowers ICON customers to select preferred designs as a starting point for their master planned communities and developments. ICON will continue to introduce new collections and will also partner with and compensate architects all over the world to feature their designs. Three of the CODEX collections available today were designed by BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group. Architects can submit their designs and developers can explore the collections and initiate projects with ICON today at https://codex.iconbuild.com.

CarbonX™: ICON’s CarbonX is a new low-carbon extrudable/printable concrete formula. When paired with ICON’s wall system and robotic construction methods, ICON’s CarbonX formula is the lowest carbon residential building system ready to be used at scale. A white paper co-authored with the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub, “Reducing carbon emissions in the built environment: A case study in 3D-printed homes” (published March 12, 2024), features a case study of 3D-printed homes employing CarbonX. The life cycle assessment results of the white paper show that the embodied and operational impacts of 3D-printed homes are lower than stick-framed construction. ICON will be shipping CarbonX to the field in April 2024. ICON has also announced that it will make its material available to other projects and customers, not only its own 3D-printed projects. Future formulations of CarbonX are already in development to reduce carbon footprint even further and are expected to be announced in the coming year.

Vitruvius™: An AI system for designing and building homes. The ultimate goal of Vitruvius is to take human and project inputs and produce robust architecture, plans, permit-ready designs, budgets, and schedules. Launched today with an open beta, Vitruvius will help anyone design homes and generate floor plans, interior renders, and exterior renders in minutes based on their own desires, budgets, and feedback. By the end of this year, Vitruvius will progress all the way through schematic designs and in the following year ICON believes its AI architect will be able to produce full construction documents as well as permit-ready designs, budgets, and schedules. What truly makes Vitruvius unique is the combination of design and construction know-how. That knowledge is what allows Vitruvius to produce designs that can actually be built. Join the list to be the first to experience Vitruvius beta at vitruvius.ai.

Ballard continued, “In the future, I believe nearly all construction will be done by robots, and nearly all construction-related information will be processed and managed by AI systems. It is clear to me that this is the way to cut the cost and time of construction in half while making homes that are twice as good and more faithfully express the values and hopes of the people who live in them. We are going to need the same velocity of ambitious technological breakthroughs that we’ve experienced in these past few years, but we know where we are headed. Going forward, ICON is an AI and robotics company focused on transforming the way we build and accelerating what we believe is a very exciting future. Vitruvius will become the default method for ICON in designing custom homes. We intend to be selling and building Vitruvius-designed homes beginning this year.”

During the showcase event, Initiative 99™ winning designs were also revealed from phase I of the global architecture competition to reimagine affordable housing that could be built for $99,000 or less without sacrificing beauty, dignity, comfort, sustainability, or resiliency. More than 60 countries from all over the world were represented in the submissions with six winners and ten honorable mentions being awarded prize money from the $1M prize purse during the event and presented by Wells Fargo, lead supporter of the competition. The first, second, and third place designs in each category will each have their home designs featured as a collection in ICON’s CODEX.

Wells Fargo also announced on stage their foundation has committed $500,000 in grant funding to Mobile Loaves & Fishes, the Austin nonprofit that has been faithfully serving the area’s homeless community for more than 25 years, to help bring to life Initiative 99-designed homes and see multiple homes built at Community First! Village (CFV) to serve the underhoused community. Upon completion of Phase II of the global design competition, ICON and Mobile Loaves & Fishes will select one winning design for ICON to deliver multiple units within CFV’s expansion of their master planned development in Austin, TX.

“ICON’s innovative 3D-printed technology paired with these beautiful, imaginative Initiative 99 designs represent a model for the future of affordable housing. Wells Fargo is proud to help make these homes a reality,” said Darlene Goins, President of the Wells Fargo Foundation.

ICON and partner Liz Lambert also unveiled further plans to expand the new El Cosmico™ in Marfa, TX to include Initiative 99 winning designs where the existing bohemian campground is located. This adds to the newly designed and reimagined 60+ acre expansion of El Cosmico in far west Texas that will feature a hotel, hospitality amenities, and homes. The project breaks ground this year.

The latest announcements from ICON will provide the tools and technology to deliver more beautiful and resilient neighborhoods, communities and subdivisions enabled by the design freedom and new possibilities of 3D-printing.

“If you are a person who wants to own an ICON home, we want to hear from you so that we know what to design, where to build and what your hopes are for your own future,” Ballard said. “If you are a developer who needs support to deliver your project ahead of schedule and under budget and feel good about what you’ve created in the world, we want to build with you. If you are a builder who wants to take the most advanced construction tools in the world with you into the field, we want to work with you. If you are an architect, who wants to help us develop entirely new design languages and architectural vernaculars that align with your culture, values and imagination, we want to work together. We want to bring the entire industry together and equip everyone with the tools to properly build our future.”

ICON’s DOMUS EX MACHINA highlights can be viewed on ICON’s YouTube® channel. Visit www.iconbuild.com to get in touch and learn more.

*According to the National Association of Home Builders report released Feb 1, 2023.

About ICON

ICON is a construction technology company developing robotic and AI systems to lower the cost and increase the speed and quality of construction. For more information visit www.iconbuild.com or follow on X™, Instagram®, Facebook®, YouTube®, or Threads® (@ICON3DTech).

©2024 ICON Technology, Inc. All rights reserved.