Saturday, April 30, 2011

They are coming! (BIM conditions imposed by Building Owners)

They started showing up as part of tender conditions for general contractors.
BIM requirements – put up by owners’ reps guided by specialist consultants.
Some are quite good. Good and ambitious.

Actually, I’m pretending here. We are doomed!
I mostly skimmed over the collection of ‘BIM requirements’ that came across my desk recently despite of multiple attempts to thoroughly read through it.
Excuse my arrogance, but there is a lot of nonsense in there L

Now, I have seen plenty of specifications in my lifetime and the NZ Masterspec, that I was inclined to work with for many years tended to err on the wordier side (sometime writing too much to cover everything) – but I can say with certainty that I’ve never in the last 25 years come across a specification describing any type of tender condition (trade related or otherwise) that was so far off the mark.

Can I think of a possible equivalents?
Say, asking the concrete placer to use toothbrushes to clean up at completion.
Painters to poor pure melted gold in their mixture.
Site canteens to serve 5 star hotel rated meals and main contractors to offer relaxing massages to their employees twice-a-day.

Actually, what disturbs me most is not that their conditions are ambitious or even unreasonable.
Frankly, some of them are poor gobbledygook. (I’ll look into these in the future)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Now remember to look up, now to look down! And now, through of course...

There is a documenting approach in AEC known as RCP.
When I first learned to draw complicated timber roof-structures, I was taught to ‘imagine’ a mirror that lies on the floor of the roof and draw what’s in that mirror.

Later someone helpfully pointed out that the same effect can be achieved by visualising the structure from above with the roof-cladding removed.

This principle of documenting roofs applies also to ceilings (RCP) as well as anything placed above the (imaginary) cutting plane!

Many other trades use mirrors regularly too, hairdressers and dentist come to mind.
Still, is it not highly risky?

The question I ponder is, why we, as an industry have stuck with this (archaic) technique of representing 3D objects placed in space while confined by the limitations of 2D (plan) projections.

It’s been done for ages, is doable, but is it not similar to doing long-division in one’s head?
Why is this way of communicating used on most of building projects still, when it requires significant mental effort from almost anyone that handles the drawings?

I go back to my friends in the construction-steel manufacturing industry.
They interpret look-up-look-down – imagine – mirror-and-reflect-back documents and process the information ‘traditionally’.
Then, for their installers, they output in low-risk, foolproof ways.

Not because their installers are less smart than other construction-document-interpreters that work in AEC.
Au contraire!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Time to wake up Sleeping Beauty? (my 5D ‘s been shelved for 5 years)

Recently I came across a PowerPoint that I got from the Vico guys when they were not even called Vico and before I purchased the programme.

What I was experiencing while looking at the slides was close to nostalgia.
Those were the things I was going to do, when I started off with my brand-new virtual construction business.

I was going to base my services on the principles similar to theirs, a truly 5 dimensional approach to working better in the construction arena.

Contrast this dream with the issues I’ve been bogged down lately and (rightly) criticised for by a number of readers.

Thick black blobs on white paper.
That is what I looked at nowadays. Highlights of my career.
Interpret, decipher, decode and translate thousands of drawings into a usable model.
On the way scale and rescale, format and colour, query and resolve, follow up and argue.

So, why DO I frequently grumble about Consultants’ Drawings?
Mostly because I can’t help thinking about what could I be doing if I did not have to unhide what consultants have hidden?
If they instead provided meaningful modelbased documentation (if not purposeful models)

I could pick up the Constructor/Vico dream I personally shelved almost 5 years ago and get my hands dirty by using the model for location based programming and planning resources utilising recipes.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I challenge building owners to challenge their consultants

A soft, non-threatening challenge, can be done on any scale of building;
Point: For owners to get an appreciation of how well their consultants know the buildings they are in charge of.

Try it:
Book a time with your main consultant, the main person in charge.*
Pick up the last set of drawings, calculations and specifications and put them on the table.
Identify a vertical (imaginary) slice-of-cake, cut through your building;
Mark it up by hand on a plan or site view, use a ‘cake-slice’ – triangular, shape.

Ask your consultant to define  ALL the elements that are within that slice, starting from structure through to finishes, fittings and decorations.

Get them to quantify their findings, tell you the number and types of power plugs, the shape and colour of the skirting board, the brand of the suspended ceiling tiles, how many light fittings, any pipes?
What about aircon, vents or floor wastes?

No matter how big your building is, or how early in a speculative process is, you should get a meaningful answer, even procurement methods are flexible.**
Most importantly, observe your consultant. The most useful result you can get out of this isn’t the numbers but how the consultant handles the challenge.

You expect your GP to know what is inside their patients, it is reasonable to expect the same from your building designers.

*             I will expand on this in a further post – don’t want to prejudice your challenge
**           You can be following a “traditional”  design-document-build method, cutting a D&B deal or having a managed process implemented by a project manager, if you are having anything built, give this challenge a go.
For example even if you have been talked into a ‘managed process’ where everything is largely flexible, your professional should still be able to provide  parameters that translate into your building slice (square meter rates, zones, etc);

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Another take on the use and misuse of colour in BIM (and CAD)

This is part of the daily drudgery of many BIM practitioners:
I am working on a job where the consultants provided DWG and DWF files of their drawings.
So far, so good.

The DWGs are coloured, legible. I navigate around them easily. (exhibit 1);
On the other hand, the DWFs are the black-scale type, thick-black blobs, occasionally intersected by thick-black lines.
(exhibit 2);

Maybe nitpicking, I am amused by this practice.
When I question it, as I often do – I get this kind of response (commonly, not on this particular job):

‘The DWF is the digital (non editable) representation of the contractual document.
The DWG is provided with no responsibility taken for it, just because we are being nice and helpful’.
(i.e. use it at your own peril)

Now, who is kidding whom?
Is the intention to have these two types of files worked on simultaneously?
Am I supposed to constantly check that the coloured one is in-synch with the black one?
If not, than what is the point?

Do they provide them separately to some parties?
Is someone given the coloured only?
How do they know that they are working with contractually up-to-date documents?

Is it just me or can anyone else smell the rat here?
(the point is not that DWFs can be  in colour too – the point is that they usually aren’t!)

Monday, April 25, 2011

BIM and the AGE factor

Received a number of comments on my ‘ageist’ post.
I’m not taking the label personally. I’ve been (happily) married for 17 years to someone 17 years my senior...

This subject is of interest to me, not just because the age difference of people in my own household is half-a-century but also because over the years it turned out to be somewhat of a taboo within workplaces I’ve been involved with.

I’ve seen many-many businesses plan for their near and further away future with little or no allowance for the fact that the new people they will be employing even within the next 5 years will be significantly different to the ones they are employing as fresh graduates now.
Not to mention the fact that they poorly understand the current generation anyway.

There are some business developers within the AEC that do recognise that the future is somewhat related to the size-of-the-shoes their employees wear.
Mostly those that want to (or have to) include BIM as an offering, tool or way of work in their business plans.

Where these clever people get trapped is the assumption that schools and universities will solve the problem of ‘new generations’ for them.

Well taught courses in BIM can make a significant impact on what role BIM will take in AEC, however the resulting people may surprise those business developers!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

It IS ‘smokes and mirrors’ – and I am proud of it!

Today, I hope to tell more with pictures – though the words will be there too to fill the quota.
I borrowed a series of ads by an (I think) German Job search company I came across some time ago.

Hope you’ll find them really inspiring as they did help me focus my company’s service-offerings onto what really mattered and stopped myself from purchasing products just because they were ‘purposely built to address a particular need’.

Unfortunately this happened after I bought my first licence of Vico and forked out an (for my circumstances totally excessive) amount of money for a training in Vegas.
This is not a criticism of Vico – as they themselves went down the track of developing a highly sophisticated but totally unsellable system.
Smartly, they too opted for a more ‘smokes and mirrors’ approach by changing their tack to pushing the buttons that their clients wanted pushed.

The coffee machine – purchaser puts coin in, selects button, gets coffee;
What goes behind the interface – he does not know, does not care for.

‘Smokes and mirrors’ in the BIM context?
Use widely available tools, systems, approaches (and people) to deliver services that people perceive as out of ordinary.

The illustrations show this beautifully – though to be fair, this interpretation of mine may not have been part the originators intentions, I’m grateful they produced them.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Purpose (designed and) built for Architects

I started learning technical drafting on my father’s drawing machine, the type with two rulers fixed at right angle to each other but adjustable to any angle through a button.
(he was a mechanical engineer and we had a couple of those around our house)

My teacher told me off. It was totally inappropriate. I was to use a T square or a parallel motion.
Those were purposely built for architects.

I obliged, first by getting a T square, then at University I graduated to a parallel ruler that caused me endless trouble with its fishing-line sophistication.
I persisted. If I was to become a proper architect, I had to use purpose designed tools.

A quarter of a century later, I now know better. Actually, I broke up with the practice some time ago.
Ten years ago I amazed the local Archicad supplier by a colourful CV fully prepared on Plotmaker. (quite a clumsy plotting tool related-to but not part of Archicad)

These days I choose my tools according to what they can do.
Curiously, the most headway I’ve made so far in construction-support-services was when I adopted a tool designed for aircraft developers.
I use Powerpoint regularly to create PDF templates, brochures or handouts.
Photoshop to make textures for my BIM models.
Excel to programme and track RFIs.

And, I play SIMS (for research).

Credit and thanks:
The picture (in fact the full digital model) of the Hungarian parallel motion was kindly created and provided by Gabor Sūli of Ėptar fame:


Friday, April 22, 2011

Are digital and scale models mutually exclusive in smart building deliveries?

Shrewd developers of buildings know that CGI do not sell their products.
No matter how good and real the movies and VRs are, there is a better thing to use.

The real thing? Nope.
While they promote show-homes, create sample rooms, or even choose to complete the entire building before they market it, having the real thing is not necessary good for the seller.

The secret is in the: child. The child buried in (most of) us.
And the astute developers know this – so the best selling tool for them is still the physical, scale model.

This observable fact is quite relevant to BIM.
I have seen many BIM providers market to owners with the idea that their marketing cost will be reduced dramatically because there will be NO NEED for scale models

Swap this around:
Rather than trying to talk developers out of using scale models – make them aware how much cheaper and faster these models can be produced from a live, BIM model.
In fact a well executed BIM project can allow the cost effective production of progressively developed physical models throughout the process.

There is nothing quite as powerful in marketing buildings as a scale model.
A little house, a village, an entire city.
If it lights up here and there, even better. Little people dotted around?
Vehicles that move? Perfect!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Learning of the BIM language has to start at a young age...

Many language tool-providers claim instant-success based on minimal effort, I believe that a language can only be learned by full immersion.
Even with such exposure the older you are, the harder it is to become fluent in a new language.

My own, non-scientific research has identified 3 critical age-bands:
A: 0 to 15 years – high success rate
B: 15 to 30 – medium to good success rate
C: Above 30 – very low success rate

There are exceptions of course, also ‘motivation to learn’ is important.
It is a parameter related to age, if you are in the band C, you’d need to have huge supplies of motivation to achieve similar results to those in the other bands with little of it.

Totally unfair.
The sooner you face this, the better chance to cope you’d have.
For simplicity, treat BIM as a language (it is not quite, but let’s say it is the language of model based communication employed to deliver buildings).
Assuming you belong to band C (and it is highly likely if you are reading this blog); you have 2 choices:
You can either face up that you will need to put enormous amounts of effort and be exceptionally motivated to get anywhere with learning the BIM language or consciously opt to develop your strategies by not speaking the lingo.

I am interested in other strategies!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The curse of the Messy CAD database.

A number of years ago I encountered a management practice that was based on the principle of “the least I know of what is going on behind the curtain the more successful a manager I can become”;

This may well work for you (if you are a successful manager) – however, let me give you a small tip:

If you are in a management role of a consultancy (building design or construction related) and are not hands on, get assistance with your data management.
Specifically: how your building data is managed, no matter if drawing, flat-model or 3D model based.

Don’t be smug. I can just about bet on any office running on very low efficiency because of the state of the working files. You may not see this, take my word for it!

Having a CAD manager does not ensure you are safe, neither is an IT department. No CAD manual, book of procedures or list of policies will protect you.

Many managers ( designers, supervisors) tell me: “as long as the drawings look OK, I don’t care how they’re done”.

As noted before, I have an affinity with the Restaurant Industry – so, accept this question to be relevant:
Would a self respecting chef allow a messy pantry, dirty bench, scattered tools and staff walking knee deep in potato peel?

Gordon Ramsay, care to comment?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Buildings aren’t cars, microwaves or ipods.

They may be called machines for living, however they are not easily mass producible.
(not even through modular designs – as sites, users, conditions vary enough between instances to make them unique and consequently unlike manufacture);

So, why do we so often bring in manufacture as the ‘leader’ to follow, when we try to improve building delivery processes?

I don’t quite know why this is happening, our natural tendency to find parallels between familiar systems has something to do with it.

I also have a (slightly quirky) alternative view relevant to this;
I believe that, the following industries have more common with building delivery than manufacture:
Food & Beverage (more the slow than the fast variety)
Emergency Medicine

Not convinced? They all face issues that are common with design/documenting/construction:

They all manage suppliers that vary in quality and can let them down at short/no notice.
Their processes are highly manual and rely on skills of individuals.

Most importantly, the Time/Quality/Price triangle is heavily tipped towards the time for all of them.

A restaurant will have to deliver within a very limited timeframe.
Transatlantic travel on a boat may be pleasant and cost effective but most people still choose to fly and when it comes to life or dead situations that A&E services deal with, time is absolutely critical.

Keep an eye out for  those industries!

Monday, April 18, 2011

The magic wand is truly magical, but use it with caution!

Revit is hard to love. (and not for the lack of trying!).
The myriad of tables that need to be filled out to get to almost anywhere
(I know, there are alternative ways, still...)
and the names the software developers choose for their tools!
Example: “families”! Sorry, that is totally uncool.
What self respecting 20 year old would like to be associated with creating “families” at work?

Others offer the ‘magic wand’.
In reality what it stands for more often than not is clicking on the space bar to trace around something. Sounds cool.

The magic wand is truly magical, but use it with caution!

Take for example the terrain we created for a project a couple of years ago. While most modelling tools allow you to import XYZ coordinate files form surveyors we often model the site by creating contours from a flatcad survey and give them appropriate heights.
For me the process has the additional benefit of getting to know the topography as the mass is shaped.

The trap is in using the magic wand (spacebar) for tracing a Flatcad contour.
Whereas within seconds you can create a large site – it can turn into a monster that will bug you as long as you have it within your file.

So, tracing those contours manually may be a better option on the long run.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Guns don’t kill people, people do. Drawings don’t mess up construction, people do.

“It is not about the drawing, it is about the model..” I said previously, then qualified it with the following “It is about neither; it is all about the building.”.
I was wrong, of course. It is all about the people involved.
The drawing is a minor player if not just an accessory. So is the model going to be if it ever becomes central to how we deliver buildings.

What amazes me in my daily work-encounters is people expressing strong believes that with technological advances, we will automatically have better processes in construction.
Does not quite make sense to me: Just because technology is improving that does not mean that human nature is getting better too!
Our proposed saver, IPD did not work in the past NOT because we used the drawing as the main communication tool, nor will it work because we replace it with the digital model.

Come to think of it – IPD was more likely to happen in building deliveries based on drawings but also run under procurement systems that we now call ‘traditional’.

Can see many of you ‘leafing’ through my previous posts to point out the inconsistencies in my opinions (drawing was bad, drawing is good, model is good, model is bad...);

Don’t bother, unless you have missed some of the previous musings.
Guns don’t kill people, people do.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Let’s change the name for the BIM interoperability file-format;

I am warming to IFC. Have been using it lately and it is getting better...

 Am not quite ready to let BuildingSmart off the hook yet – indeed am preparing to hassle a bit more by voicing my demands on a new (and appropriate) role it should take on within BIM
(and demand relinquishing others that it is holding by default).
That is for the near future.

Today: The unfortunate file-extension: IFC -
IFC  can mean either/both “industry foundation classes” and/or “issued for construction”!

Imagine this conversation:
“Hi Paul, how are you?
....(typical chat)... Can you please forward us your latest IFC model?”
“Hi John... certainly – exactly what IFC are you referring to?..”

It is easy enough to distinguish between the two – if you remember to draw attention to the fact there are two different meanings used regularly.
Almost just as easy to assume one or the other.
Is this ambiguity really necessary?

Let’s change the name for the interoperability file-format;

My suggestions:
MBA – Model Based Aspect (sounds very knowledgable too)
MBF – Model Based Format (clinical and to the point)
IMB – International Model Base (technical and evokes IBM – also the anagram of BIM)
IMF – International Model Format...

Now, if this last one gets confused with the International Monetary Fund, so be it.
And while we are at it, can we get rid of the ‘interoperability’ word?

Friday, April 15, 2011

The significance of the small print!

The small (or fine) print has for long been considered the trap in all sorts of contracts to be wary of by those signing onto the dotted line.

My interest in small print with regards to construction is less to do with the ‘legal contract document between the parties’ as much as the drawings that are parts of contractual sets (issued for tender, construction, variations etc);

I see two manifestations of the small-print in those documents:

The first group comprises any text that is smaller than 2mm when printed.
There may not be anything sinister or manipulative behind giving instructions out via small print – I still treat them with contempt they deserve.
If this is an instructional document telling me what I am obliged to do under a contract, it should be in the main document and not buried in small print. You don’t write a GIVE WAY or STOP sign with lettering too small to read, unless you want to trip someone up with it.

The second group covers the ‘general sheets’, those densely written pages at the fronts of drawing sets, again containing small textual instructions, keys, legends etc.
My issue with these is that they tend to be far too hard to navigate to form essential instructions.

Keep them clear, keep them legible.
Small print should be left to the lawyers.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A free dinner? The Ideal Standard!

Went to a local “Ideal Standard” presentation last night.
Not being a specifier, I was a bit of a piggy-backker.
Had a nice time regardless.
While enjoying wonderful hospitality provided by the hosts, I mused over bathroom ware – real and digital.

Only a couple of weeks ago I suggested that suppliers of construction products need not bother developing 3D libraries, providing doughnuts (or in my case a luxurious dinner) will suffice in hooking the specifiers to their products.
A couple of days before that (or was it after?) I urged them to put the extra effort in keeping their digital libraries at the low-poly-count end.

Me (“the expert”) yo-yoing like this from one extreme to another – no wonder even leading suppliers are reluctant to do something bold in the digital world of construction.
Or should it be world of digital construction?

Then again, last night while watching the sleek presentation (it was) and absorbing the company’s impressive statistics (they were) I still kept wondering, how come a company that provides ‘entire bathroom solutions’ has not seen it viable to crack the hosted virtual platform game?

I know they have the isolated (though quite clever) 3D-models floating on shareware-sites here and there.
They also offer visualisation services to designers worldwide, their printed material is totally snazzy.

Can they please, take the lead in the digital too?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Communication practices in construction are blacker than needed to be;

‘Communication’ is a clever word.
It can mean conveying information one way (me instructing you to do something) and/or two ways (you and I exchanging information about something)

For example, I may put a note on our dining-table in the morning: “Zs clean the dishes!” – this is a one way communication (instruction);
If I come home and find another line below: “Sorry, it is E’s day today” – the communication goes two-ways.

I regularly work with IFC drawings (IFC – issued for construction) soft and hard copies.
I see one-way communication.
Fair enough, they are supposed to convey instructions on how to put the building together. 

Still, I suspect that because they know this communication is one-way – the originators of the material intentionally make the receiver of the information struggle with it more than necessary.

Apart from the previously described pointless mounting of the number of outputs, they use another trick:
Output in DWF format with all lines showing black and with true thickness. This is naughty!

DWF is a good format to use as a reference (non editable) – but not allowing someone to edit information should not also prevent them interpret it in the fastest possible way.

If I was a project manager – I’d prohibit “All black” drawings on my projects.
(even if the hard copies stay greyscale – all the soft copies should be coloured);

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Computer says no – BIM as Disruptive Technology, take 2

Are you a fan of Little Britain?
You’d know Carol's catchphrase "Computer says no".

I often come across people that believe that the solution to most of the problems of construction is in a yet-to-be invented machine that will turn line drawings produced by building designers into digital 3D+ models for visualisation and planning purposes.

There are people out there now that would invest in such a ‘machine’.
It ‘d be able to have the 1-2000 sheets (that seem to be produced as a minimum for just about any project nowadays) fed in within minutes
(using hardcopies and shredding them up in the process to achieve a dramatic effect).
Following some gurgling, roaring and light- flashing the machine would feed the data into a projector that would then beam the singing-dancing-3D image onto a screen

You may think I am totally loosing it now – but, think again!
We all seem to be so much more prepared to put our hopes in the possible invention of some silly miracle-contraption than facing up to what needs fixing.

What if the machine did exist but also had warning lights that flashed with “garbage in – garbage out”,
and refused to compute the fluff fed into-it?

Would you still carry on producing thousands of mostly useless flatcad originated drawings?

I side with Carol on this one "Computer (should) say no"!

Monday, April 11, 2011

When lost anywhere, nothing is quite as useful as being able to see the ‘big picture’.

Budapest is a lovely city, I am very fond off. Navigating through it can be tricky.
The early challenges of getting around while studying there in the mid eighties taught a lesson that stayed with me for life.

I loved exploring the city, jumping from one vehicle to another, moving below/above ground and water.
What got my head in was though the circular nature of the city, having been developed over 2 concentric, circular routes.
You could chuck-along on a tram for hours – observe landscapes of grey streets going by – and end up in exactly the same place you started off.

Sometime you’d want to reach a destination on you right – a tram going left would come sooner, you’d go with it.
An express bus going the opposite direction could take you there even faster.

What was the lesson coming out of this?
The way I managed to get my head around navigating the city was by memorising the ‘big picture’.

When attempting to do any BIM, seeing the big picture as a reference is hugely important.
It is so easy to get pulled into the details, the challenges of having to deliver meaningful results daily.

Detail is good. However, remember this: sometimes taking the tram that is heading the opposite direction from where you intend to go may just get you there the fastest.

(not quite Budapest on these pictures but still pretty)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

It is not about the drawing, it is about the model.

Well, guess what? It is about neither; it is all about the building.

It is cool to talk about “BIM as Disruptive Technology” these days.
Wise commentators dampen their predictions by saying “BIM has the potential” but there are also many that label Revit as DT.
A relatively new creation of a jargon, DT can be defined in numerous ways (check the Net) –
I don’t see any of the current approaches to BIM, let alone any software packages to meet the criteria to qualify.

As scary as it would be for many for the ‘drawing’ to disappear from the process suddenly, I’d still say it would not be DT – just a bit of yesterday’s news.
Would result in a bit of re-juggling of current players and all would be business as usual.

But what if design and documentation as we know it disappeared?
What if you could do buildings straight away?
Say, you went to a housing warehouse and on the basis of your likes and dislikes, needs and budget a building was put together straight away for you – then placed on a truck and shipped to your site?
You need a skyscraper, a hospital, a boarding school a factory?
Similar approach. In time, cut the shipping out too and do it remotely, straight on the site.

Now, that I’d call BIM as Disruptive Technology.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

The final word on the Staircase Exercise

Let me put the staircase to rest.
But not until I make a couple of additional comments about the exercise:
There were 20 clocks in the staircase, and yes, you could’ve come up with that number based purely on the 2D projections. (not many people did);

My main motivation for creating this little PDF was to explore the question of ‘spatial interpretation’.
While people outside the AEC industry often confess to having problems reading plans – this almost never happens within the circles I work in, i.e. no construction professional has yet admitted to me that s/he finds it challenging to interpret construction drawings based purely on 2D (orthogonal) projections (many often acuse their peers to suffer from this).

Still, I wanted to be open to the idea that everyone in the industry IS very good at reading plans (elevations, sections) – so based on that assumption, I was interested to see if there was a measurable time difference between the two methods of interpreting a spatial task.

The results, I’m afraid to say, are inconclusive.
They point to the entire project being a bit ill-conceived and definitely not described clearly enough.

Gives you an idea while I had not done that well in academia in the past – have the passion and drive, not the patience to work methodically through the data.
Chalk it up to experience.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Why is it not more interactive?

My best friend’s parents worked for a Newspaper company.
(not a News Agency, 40+ years ago, an old fashioned, daily newspaper);
Her mother was a typist, father a type-setter, we occasionally visited the offices and the printing floor.
Apart from all the juicy gossips we picked up – I got to know the fascinating journey of the ‘news’ from the journalist, through the typist, the corrector over the typesetter, some other technical people, into the printing machine, out to the truck – off to the news-booth, sold to the reader.

Nowadays my friend gets her news on her iphone.
Not quite instantly as it is being created (though almost).

What happened to people like my best friend’s parents staffing the newspaper creation industry? Where did those professions go? Did some of them retrain? Jump to a different job?
Or had they all just retired and no new ones were hired?

How come the construction industry is not following suit?
Why does the documentation of a house (for example) follow the voyage not dissimilar to the old fashioned newspaper even in these days?
From the designer to the drafter to the large printer to the client...and why do RFIs tour through longwinded labyrinths before they reach someone that is obliged to respond?
Why is the design not more often delivered on phones?
Why is it not more interactive? 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

How many Teklas will it take to change the Construction Light-bulb?

... and what if this Light-bulb does not want to change?

Went to the Tekla roadshow BIM-day today and was pleasantly surprised.
No, it was not just a sale pitch though sometime I wish it was.
I go to events like the one today and think: how many other industries are forced to create ‘the need’ before they can start selling ‘the solution’?

Why is so much effort necessary to go into starting from the basics every time?
Feels a bit like being a logistics business operator and getting hoarded into one room with others to have airplanes sold to.

The sellers spend a huge amount of time on explaining why flying planes would be better for us to driving trucks and very little time on why we should be buying their particular aircraft.

One may say, there is no harm in this, bring everyone up to the same level.
Raising general awareness, it is called. Educating the industry.

Not sure of this strategy, really. Seems a bit like a loose-loose situation.
If I am a truck operator only starting to be looking at the sky there will be a long time before I’d start choosing the right plane to fly.
On the other side, if I had been flying planes for a while – show me the engine, tell me the speed – talk my language!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The sixth category: BIM as a parasite

The problem with writing daily is the urge to start each post with ‘the biggest problem...’
Surely when it comes to an area of one’s interest there is a finite number of ‘biggest problems’ and continuing to introduce new ones lessens credibility.
Oh, well...May adopt Graham’s strategy and use the “one of the...” approach;

BIMologists of various kinds must wonder sometimes if their role is not a bit parasitical.
Deriving nutrients from the host giving not much back in return.
I marvel about this often. A sign of my insecurity? Not really.
If anything I am sometimes over confident of what I bring to my ‘host’.
Which means I am no longer a parasite, or am I?

Then there is the acronym. You can hardly be a good BIMmer without having your own twist on the acronym.

Flatcad was first called CAD/CAM (Computer Aided Drafting and Manufacture) then it lost the CAM when Architecture started to claim ownership, but added another D for Design. (CADD);
BIM was not always BIM either. First it was VC (Virtual Construction) but silly Graphisoft trademarked it and put most users off using it – so BIM became BIM (Building Information Modelling) for better or worse – before it got another M – for Management, I guess sounds more sophisticated...

My suggestion: Put two little ‘m’s in front of BIM
Meaningful and measurable

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Can’t knock the Archicad Marquee off its pedestal

When it comes to the popularity of my posts. And you know what one comes second?
The one on the Revit Conference. Considering how much I wanted to stick to software neutrality when I embarked on this little venture, I’m not doing that great.

There is something else that bothers me these days: “innovation”
The word that used to trouble me most in English once was ‘hero’.
How sports people, pop stars and celebrities were awarded the label plainly annoyed.
Then gradually ‘innovation’ and ‘innovative’ replaced hero and became my antiheroes.
Specially in relation to construction.

Somehow, the industry got stuck in reverse gear and is unable to move forward.
To counter balance that, anyone that attempts to do anything beyond the ordinary quickly gains the brand of being an innovator.
The misuse of the word makes me shiver. Then I read on the net:
“It is more and more accepted that innovation does not come without a conscious decision to innovate.”

Really? Do people wake up in the morning and say, ‘today, I’m going to innovate?'
Others tell me: I’d been ahead of my time. For twenty years now.
Still, I can’t remember ever consciously embarking on innovating; 
Fixing things up, making them better, absolutely.
But, my father would call this tinkering, messing about.

“Innovation” is such a loaded word. Let’s stick to tinkering.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Does your BIM translate into a specific colour?

It is surprising that in a field so highly contested by a number of strong, international (global) players there is a lack of external branding for the disciples.
Something that would easily differentiate a Revit follower from a Vectorworks user, an Archicad fan from a GT enthusiast or Bentley buff.

A colour, a piece of clothing, a haircut?

In my quests to accumulate enough CPD points annually to keep my registration going in NZ, I often attended NZIA gatherings. With over 500 architects in one place I used to keep myself awake on some of the low-octane lectures by guessing the delegates colours, i.e. what was their CAD of choice. Not scientific at all, just fun.

Things get a bit more complicated when you start self-branding by other BIM categories, whether you supported IFC or not, believed in-or dismissed IPD, and if you belonged to the group of BIM-evolutionists or rather sided with the ones that chuck an R in front of evolution? 

You could easily end up like a Rubik cube yourself.

This brings me to another question, quite unique to this field: why are there no software specific gadgets being used to solidify market presence?
Why no significant alliances between any of the BIM software providers and those that make the paraphernalia designed to consume the fruits of their BIM?

Ignorance or arrogance?