Six months ago, Autodesk (ADSK) opened a skunk works on Pier 9 in San Francisco. The two-story waterfront space—a TechShop on steroids—houses top-of-the-line 3D printers, a precision water jet cutter, wood and metal shops, an industrial kitchen, and pretty much any other tool an inventor could possibly want. Tucked away in a corner, there’s also a skunk works within the skunk works. Here, Andrew Hessel and a team of designers, programmers, and scientists are working on what is perhaps Autodesk’s most ambitious project: building software and hardware that will simplify the task of designing and fabricating living things, including viruses, bacteria, and even human organs. “What’s beautiful about software is that it makes complex jobs easy,” he says.