openbuildings

OpenBuildings Unveils Its New Architecture Database And Raises $2 Million In Funding

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The world is full of interesting and amazing buildings that are constantly being photographed and admired. But where do you go online to find them? If you’re one of about 50,000 registered users, the answer is OpenBuildings. Or perhaps you’re one of the 250,000 people that have downloaded their iPhone app. Either way, that base is about to expand thanks to a great-looking new site and a fresh round of funding.

OpenBuildings is an online database of buildings around the world. Right now, they have over 40,000 buildings in their archives with more being added each day. Started in 2010 by a group of architects studying in London, construction professionals and architecture lovers have quickly latched on to the site. And the new site should attract even more users.

As you might expect, the initial impression of buildings on OpenBuildings is a visual one. But once you find a building that you’re interested in, you can drill down into that building’s profile and see a ton of information about it — things like construction status, architect, location, materials, etc. And if there’s not a lot of information, you’re free to add more (provided you create an OpenBuildings profile). And, of course, many buildings have a lot of crowdsourced pictures to showcase the architecture.

There’s also a powerful search tool that allows you to filter the types of buildings you’re looking for. The coolest of these filters is a timeline which allows you to focus on just a particular period of time.

And soon there will be a way for construction companies working on projects to attach themselves to building profiles — and advertise services. There will be a fee for those (but the first three months will be free).

The goal of OpenBuildings is to share architectural knowledge and create a hub for like-minded individuals to interact with one another about their passion. The 40,000+ buildings currently in the system have come from a mixture of the community and a spider tool that crawls other websites looking for building information, co-founder Adel Zakout says. “We’re building natural language processing tools and semantic technologies to help us properly record, tag buildings and infer facts from free text descriptions,” he adds.

The iPhone app, Buildings, allows users to access all of this information while on the go. And in a few weeks, there will be an Android app to accompany it, Zakout says.

All of this is being made possible thanks to a $2 million Series A funding led by BlueRun Ventures and Index Ventures. With the funding, John Malloy of BlueRun is joining the OpenBuildings Board. The money, which the company notes they weren’t actively seeking out, will help them expand their teams in London and  Sofia, Bulgaria as well as work on new tools to further surface great architecture around the world.