Friday, September 29, 2017

The benefits that good Design Managers and good BIM Managers bring are by no means mutually exclusive.

 One of my daughters is aiming to become an architect. She gets a bit defensive about it, going in that direction, I supposedly have been putting her off the profession for a long time.
Verbally and otherwise.

That I am sorry about, I want the absolute best for my children, but there hardly is an escape from reality and that of the depths this profession has sunk to, in the recent decade or two.

Just imagine an ‘architect’ of the past (and not even that distant a past) waking up and presenting themselves for a construction project these days!
Imagine, Michelangelo, Alvar Alto or even any ‘average’ principal architect from before the eighties, taking up their position of the ‘project architect’ on a project and then getting pushed around by second grade project managers internally and/or from ‘client-side’.
Imagine them and their dismay of being lowered to be ‘just one’ discipline leader and fitted somewhere between the structural guys and MEP designers.
The celebrated conductors of grand building symphonies of past, put under the management of drawing checkers, box tickers, minute takers.
A grim picture, I know.

Still, for me, and others unhappy with these developments, but trained in the spirit of architectural masters that designed at ‘big picture’ levels but also understood construction details, for a while, (even while architect were sinking like torpedoes) there seemed to be a place to escape to, – a role, titled ‘Design Managers’.

These people (DMs) were still charged with scopes not dissimilar to those of architects’, pulling things together, checking across entire projects, understanding the big picture but expecting to be also detail literate.
Able to talk meaningfully to specialist designers from raw structures, through finishes ‘to high tech fittings and systems.
Understand costs. Read and comprehend schedules. Know construction, speak logistics.

I kind of found myself at home, in this role of ‘a DM.’

OK, not a ‘pretend’ architect any more, but someone that can still ‘conduct’.
Maybe not symphonies, but satisfying singsongs.  I liked it.

Chance would also have it, I got into BIM at a sort of early (professional) age and got hooked on it some 20+ years ago.
For a naïve mind, the two seemed complementary, a set of tools, supported by a strong philosophy of well-defined design.
Just what a good Design Manager would wish for.
Oh, how wrong I was to think that.

Roll on the present.

An HR person I talked to recently said, I cannot be both.
I had to decide, if I was a Design Manager or a BIM Manager.

Instead, I decided to write a little post, for all of those HR people (sorry, shall I call you “talent acquisition agents?”) that are operating within this industry, on the subject of, why I think that, a good Design Manager’s and a good BIM Manager’s skills are by no mean mutually exclusive.
I.e. I should not be forced to choose to be one, or the other.
In fact, I am certain that, they enhance the other, in the way the ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’, i.e. 1+1= 3 or more.

A BIM enabled (literate) Design Manager is, like someone that speaks an extra language.
Someone that can pull hundreds of PDF drawings into a single file (given the right software) and check the entire design in one cohesive environment.
Someone that can model, to verify the design works.
Make library items, confirm or otherwise design compliance.

Therefore, a BIM enabled DM is, take it from me, not an ‘IT nut’ that knows nothing about construction, so should hide this knowledge and experience from his/her CV – as not to be pigeonholed into an ‘IT nut knowing nothing about construction’.

Conversely, a BIM Manager claiming (and being able to substantiate it) to have a DM background, should be considered to be a BIM Manager on Steroids as opposed to a DM with unnatural tech leanings.
Someone, that CAN pull the techy part off, but also knows what the bits in it are (translated to REAL construction), regardless of the discipline they have originated from.

I know, the composite beast, I’ve described here, is a rare find.
But, there are some out there in  existance still, so, cherish them.

Unfortunately, me being one of them makes me feel no more hopeful for the species survival than those that dismiss it.
It is an uphill battle, between HR managers searching for the ‘right fit’ (and I MEAN, right fit) for any a position and people sticking out of molds, left-right-and center.

So, here is an offer: For any HR person, manager, agent or whatever operating in the area:
if you ever want to find out what a Design Manager is/or should be and what a BIM Manager is or should be, please get in touch, I will happily assist with the details.
I will even explain you what the combination of the two SHOULD get you, or what to look for, at least.


  1. I wish I could add to your explanation, as I have been there and am doing it for decades now... with less and less realization what it actually is or means.

  2. Great article. Totally agree. People cannot see the greatness in DM that can embrace technology in the right way.

  3. nice article. my thoughts are in the same direction - I do not see how can anyone become a BIM Manager without previous solid architectural background, design manager at best.

  4. Nicely done Zolna, excellent article.

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