Tag Archives: defining BIM

BIM and Integrated Design Quotes

Looking for a good quote to get you moving? In search of some instant inspiration? Sometimes words can provide this more readily than images.

During research for my book, BIM and Integrated Design: Strategies for Architectural Practice (Wiley, 2011) I came across some pretty inspiring people and kept a record of the things they had to say.

And while the best quotes remain in the book, some quotes didn’t make it into the final copyedited manuscript.

Not all of these mention BIM or Integrated Design directly, but nonetheless they’re here to help motivate you in your pursuits.

Hope you find these editor’s cuts as inspirational as I do.

Let me know if you have a favorite quote – even one of your own. Thanks!

Evolutions such as BIM have the potential to facilitate—or further complicate—integrated work.

Julie Gabrielli and Amy E. Gardner

If only one book were to be written about BIM, it might have “DON’T PANIC” printed in large uppercase letters on the front cover.

Pete Zyskowski

BIM still continues to be very much at the forefront of our professional consciousness. This is hardly surprising, since BIM has been universally acknowledged as a ‘disruptive technology’ for the AEC industry, much more than CAD or even computing ever was, and it is causing us all to rethink our processes and identities.

Lachmi Khemlani

A tree growing out of the ground is as wonderful today as it ever was. It does not need to adopt new and startling methods.

Robert Henri

All human societies go through fads in which they temporarily either adopt practices of little use or else abandon practices of considerable use.

Jared Diamond

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Attributed to Mark Twain

Evolution of BIM implementation came in parallel with willingness to collaborate and share project information, the move toward integrated practice that is much talked about in the industry.

Phillip G. Bernstein

Vision without execution is a hallucination.

Thomas Edison

A good idea is about ten percent and implementation and hard work, and luck is 90 percent.  

Guy Kawasaki

It’s never too late to be who you might have been.

George Eliot

The biggest thing about BIM is that it’s moving us back to interdisciplinary work.[i]        

Kathleen Liston

 Most firms begin their exploration of BIM doing comfortable 3D visualization and move systematically through more complex uses; the most advanced users integrate their project approach using BIM throughout the supply chain. Almost by definition, more advanced usage – such as analysis and production – requires collaboration throughout more of the project team.[ii]

Phillip G. Bernstein

The future belongs to the integrators.

Ernest Boyer

People don’t resist change. They resist being changed!

Peter Senge

If architects do not take the leadership role on integrated practice, they will cede this turf to another entity.[iii]

Barbara Golter Heller

Followers are more important to leaders than leaders are to followers.

Barbara Kellerman

Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.

Victor Hugo

The most common criticism leveled at the process of architectural education is that it does not adequately prepare students to be fully participating members in architectural practice. Students invariably do not gather all the skills necessary to create a work of architecture independently and must, therefore, endure a lengthy term of apprenticeship.[iv]

Carlin MacDougall

There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those that may do well under the new. (Changing the “order of things” is difficult because the people who are certain of what they will lose will oppose it. And the people who are uncertain of their gains won’t support it.)

Machiavelli

We can’t become what we need by remaining what we are.

Max Dupree

Now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite quote?


[i] Liston, Kathleen, AIA TAP BIM Awards Jury Comments, 2009

[ii] Bernstein, Phillip G., BIM Adoption: Finding Patterns for a New Paradigm, Design Intelligence, 2006

[iii] Heller, Barbara Golter, http://www.di.net/articles/archive/red_business_blue_business/,  Red Business, Blue Business, 2008

[iv] MacDougall, Carlin, A Marriage of Ideals and Technology, www.di.net, 2001

 

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Filed under BIM, collaboration, defining BIM, Integrated Design, Integrated Project Delivery, IPD, people

He’s just not that into you…or BIM

Today I’m going to introduce you to a new acronym.

That’s right. One more.

Just this last one, then we’re through. Done. Kaput. I promise.

You ready? Good.

JAT

There, that wasn’t so bad. Right?

It’s short for

Just a Tool

As in…

Well, you know.

The oft heard sentiment that

“BIM is just a tool”

Here, it’s the word “just” – not “tool” – that triggers my outrage.

And this rant.

So, fasten your seatbelts.

Not “just.”

BIM is not “just” anything.

This blog’s brand is more horse feathers than high horse, more horse sense than nonsense – so accept what I’m about to say as an exception to the rule.

My anger – and incredulousness (yes, it’s a word) – in online discussions and interviews.

The nonchalance of those who declare that

“That’s not a BIM problem.”

As in

“I have a hospital to design in a seismic zone and I have no time to do it. That’s not a BIM problem.”

 Or

“That’s not an issue brought about by BIM.”

That BIM is “just a tool” – like it’s just a can opener or a pair of pliers or a hammer.

If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.

-          Abraham Maslow

“If we didn’t have it – we’d use something else.”

As in

“No Revit? No problem. I’ll use a stapler.”

At least until BIM becomes a staple in the industry.

These dismissives come from those who are immersed in the technology

Like fish who, it is said, cannot discover water – or like Madge in the 70’s Palmolive ads

You’re soaking in it

They swat away the insinuation that what they are using or doing is anything more than a revved-up 2H pencil with an off-handed dismissive sweep of the hand like they were swatting flies.

But a tool?!

The way that the iPhone is just a tool.

Or the GPS is just a tool.

Or the human brain…

Only that BIM is ALL of these in one.

And the add-ons are BIM’s apps.

App-like tools available for every part of the BIM process.

BIM is not a tool, authoring, analyzing or otherwise.

Apps are tools, I’ll concede you that.

BIM is…

BIM is a process

BIM is our saving grace

BIM is our ticket to ride

BIM is our pass out of here

BIM is our card that says pass GO

BIM is our last golden ticket

BIM is our salvation

BIM is the innards of an intricate clock

BIM is the white horse you rode in on

BIM is the deus ex machina – that arrives at the end of the play to save everything

BIM, the enabler

BIM, the balm

BIM makes IPD possible

And also likely, relevant, necessary and inevitable.

BIM is more than what’s happening on your desktop.

No one would say

BIM is just a process.

BIM is just a strategy.

BIM is not just a technology: software is.

BIM is a disruptive technology. And…

BIM requires that you just focus less on Revit, ArchiCAD and their add-ons and more on process and strategy

BIM is a product

BIM is an IT-enabled, open standards based deliverable and collaborative process

BIM is a facility life-cycle management requirement

BIM is a fundamentally different way of creating, using, and sharing building lifecycle data

BIM is just evolving and will continue to as the capabilities of user and technology improve

BIM can serve as a reliable basis for decision making

BIM is a rebirth of excitement and hope. (T/Y Alberto Palomino, master of the poetry and metaphysics of BIM)

No one asks “Can peanut butter exist without jelly?”

Yes, BIM can exist without IPD as IPD can work without BIM

Just as peanut butter can exist without jelly.

But

WHY ON EARTH WOULD ANYONE WANT TO DO THAT?!

And yes,

BIM is a pretty amazing, evolved, in-process of developing, still in-progress

Tool.

But a pretty amazing one at that. And…

Get on your high horses, people – the Age of Aquarius for design professionals is upon us.

Just as HAL – the fictional computer in Space Odyssey – plus one letter in the alphabet is IBM (H<I, A<B, L<M) so too CAD minus one letter is BIM*

*Except for the last two letters. Shucks.

Definitions of Just BIM

No one would ever say

BIM? It’s just a computable representation of the physical and functional characteristics of a facility.

or

BIM is just information use, reuse, and exchange just with integrated 3D-2D model-based technology. No big deal.

or

BIM is just a single repository including both graphical and non-graphical documents – that’s all.

or even

BIM is just a building design and documentation methodology characterized by the creation and use of coordinated, internally consistent computable information about a building project in design and construction. Nothing more, really.

Why qualify it?

So fuggedaboutit.

There’s no need for the acronym JAT.

BIM isn’t “just” any thing.

So stop saying it.

BIM just is.

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Filed under BIM, defining BIM, process, workflow

27 Reasons to read Mastering Autodesk Revit Architecture 2011 now, before it comes out

What are you doing on August 2, 2010?

That’s the day* Mastering Autodesk Revit Architecture 2011 – or MARA2011 for short – written by the authorial triumvirate of Eddy Krygiel, Phil Read and the inestimable James Vandezande comes out.

I may not know where I’ll be on August 2nd – but I can tell you this.

On August 1st I’ll be waiting in line at the Winnetka Book Coop awaiting the 12 midnight book release.

Winnetka – with its trophy kids and designer dogs – hasn’t seen anything like this since the last Harry Potter book launch.

There’s been not a little online and offline buzz about the meaning and significance of the launch date.

August 2, 2010 is a Monday. Except in leap years, no other month starts on the same day of the week as August. That’s significant.

Also, the book is being released while the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is being held. That’s too bad for the bikers but gives everyone else an edge.

No Book, No Review, No Business

But if the book hasn’t been released yet – how can I reliably review the book without having read it?

The same way that the book’s authors are giving book signings without the book.

For more on this see Book signing – without the book!

It is apparently possible to not only sign books that haven’t  been published but also to talk about books you haven’t read – a practice encouraged in places of higher learning and France.

The French masterpiece How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read is considered a work of inspired nonsense that answers the question:

What are we supposed to do in these awkward months before books are released in which we’re inclined to talk about a book we haven’t read?

In other words:

How to talk about How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read if you haven’t in fact read it?

You want to know how I am able to share with you the contents of Mastering Autodesk Revit Architecture 2011 before its publication date?

It’s one helluva story. Here goes.

You may or may not recall that an entire truckload of copies of the new Mastering Autodesk Revit Architecture 2011 book, both weighing and costing an estimated one million pounds, had been stolen just months before the eagerly awaited BIM book was due to appear in bookstores.

The good news is that all of the yet-to-be-sold books have been recovered unscathed – with the sole exception of one copy that had not been accounted for until it became apparent that the “invaluable” (attorneys) prototype was left in a Silicon Valley bar by a disgruntled, as yet unidentified 2D CAD manager and later purchased for an undisclosed sum ($37.78) by Bimodo.com who proceeded to take the book apart page by page to study its substantial innards, dissecting it and posting embarrassing pictures and revealing video detailing its impressive features.

I’d link to the videos but I have to consider this blog’s family-oriented audience.

The authors, who closely guard details about their unreleased books, were too busy disclosing the most minute details of their top-secret book in their blogs to be reached for comment.

As chance would have it I happened to be writing this very post at an adjacent table to the 2D CAD manager in the Silicon Valley bar prior to his call to Bimodo.com –  

a call incidentally, shamelessly and stupidly made on the non-functioning prototype of the next generation iPhone that had also been inadvertently left in the same bar

– and was able to observe the following information about the book while he proceeded to make the dastardly, ill-advised call to Bimodo.com on a wall-hung pay phone.

For those who would like to appear knowledgeable about Mastering Autodesk Revit Architecture 2011 prior to its well-anticipated release, read on.

Mastering Autodesk Revit Architecture 2011 Factoids

Due to state laws forbidding the transfer of smuggled books over state lines I can only share with you a small sampling of what’s in store.

This much we know to be true:

The book runs 976 pages**

Each author wrote the equivalent of a 325 page book (Eddy no doubt one-upped with a 326th page)

The book is written in English, unless you are unfamiliar with Revit.

27 Reasons to read the book now, before it comes out

REASON 1: Reading the book now, before it comes out, will give you a competitive advantage over your competition.

When your competition returns in September they won’t know what hit them.

REASON 2: Aug 2 is a good book launch date.

Your competition is on the beach relaxing, sipping margaritas while you’re sailing by on your inflatable-of-choice reading away.

So clear your calendar. Leave August – the hottest month of the year – wide open.

You may want to keep in mind that August is the month therapists are on vacation. I’m only saying.

REASON 3: The authors – likened elsewhere to Ruth, DiMaggio and Mantle (Yankees) and Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo and José Carreras (Mets) – held nothing back and pulled no punches – in the scribing of their tome.

On August 2nd, you will hold in your hands everything these guys know. Period.

Having given their all, the authors themselves have been reduced to empty shells, mere husks of their former selves. You’re now the keepers of their content – they’re barely haircuts in suits. Enjoy.

REASON 4: For the same reason you work in BIM and Integrated Design – without everything all perfectly worked out.

For the same reason you work in BIM without the assurances of complete interoperability.

For the same reason you work in Integrated Design without signing a right of reliance (you don’t?!)

You find coping mechanisms and plug-ins.

Patches and workarounds.

Patience, faith, hope and confidence that everything will be worked out in time.

Besides, design professionals for a living envision what is not there.

It is one of our core attributes and competencies.

That is what we do.

We don’t need a book to read it any more than we need a building to design it.

Don’t let the pesky detail that the book does not yet exist stand in your way of reading it.

REASON 5: Get a jump start, before the book comes out, and form a study group. In advance – upon return from summer vacation each employee prepares to present a different topic at a lunchtime lunch and learn. Each employee picks a chapter and runs with it. Does the double duty of providing much-needed presentation experience for emerging employees. Until the release date – you can do some prep work – some of the heavy lifting – prepare a work plan, a study plan, look online here at the table of contents to decide where you will focus first. Or read on.

27 Even Better Reasons + 3 Bonus Reasons

Here are all the reasons you need to read this outstanding as yet-to-be-published book – the best book I haven’t read in ages.

Here are all 27 of them from the book’s table of contents

Part I: Fundamentals provides discussions of key BIM and Revit concepts before giving readers a hands-on look at the Revit interface.

1 Beyond Basic Documentation.

2 The Principles of Revit: Tools and UI.

3 The Basics of the Revit Toolbox.

Part II: The Revit Workflow, explores today’s Revit workflows and introduces readers to templates, worksharing, and managing Revit projects.

4 Configuring Templates and Standards.

5 Managing a Revit Project.

6 Understanding Worksharing.

7 Working with Consultants.

8 Interoperability: Working Multiplatform.

Part III: Modeling and Massing for Design dives into modeling and massing and offers detailed information on the crucial Family Editor as well as visualization techniques for various industries.

9 Advanced Modeling and Massing.

10 Conceptual Design and Sustainability.

11 Phasing, Groups, and Design Options.

12 Visualization.

Part IV: Extended Modeling Techniques covers documentation, including annotation and detailing, and explains how to work with complex walls, roofs and floors as well as curtain walls and advanced stair and railings.

13 Walls and Curtain Walls.

14 Roofs and Floors.

15 Family Editor.

16 Stairs and Railings.

Part V: Documentation.

17 Detailing Your Design.

18 Documenting Your Design.

19 Annotating Your Design.

20 Presenting Your Design.

Part VI: Construction and Beyond, the final portion of the book, discusses Revit for contractors and facility managers, working with Revit in the classroom (high school through graduate), virtualization, working with the API, fabrication for film and stage, and advanced, time-saving tips and tricks

21 Revit in Construction.

22 Revit in the Classroom.

23 Revit and Virtualization.

24 Under the Hood.

25 Direct to Fabrication.

26 Revit for Film and Stage.

27 Revit in the Cloud.

There you have it. 27 great reasons to read Mastering Autodesk Revit Architecture 2011 now, before it comes out.

Want three more reasons to make it an even 30? Here are 3 more bonus reasons:

28 Mastering Autodesk Revit Architecture 2011’s focused discussions, detailed exercises, and compelling real-world examples are organized by how users learn and implement Revit, an approach that will resonate with Revit users of all skill levels.

29 The expert authors developed this practical reference and tutorial based on years of experience using the program and training others to do so.

30 Unlike the competition, Mastering Revit Architecture is organized by real-world workflows and features detailed explanations, interesting real-world examples, and practical tutorials to help readers understand Revit and BIM concepts so that they can quickly start accomplishing vital Revit tasks. 

DON’T WAIT

For the same reason that many professionals should avoid waiting until things are perfect and all worked-out with their technology before jumping-in, there is no better time than now – before the book is published and distributed – to read this insightful guide.

The release date will come sooner than you think – the future is nearer than you think – so act now.

Click here and free yourself.

If you are an instructor, you may request an evaluation copy for this title.

In the meantime, come August 2 – you will have the immaculate door-stopper and show stopper.

Follow the book on Facebook by checking the book out on the Mastering Autodesk Revit Architecture 2011 Facebook page

And while at it, follow them on Twitter http://twitter.com/masteringrevit

Don’t wait. BIM operators are standing by.

* Important Update: Now you really can read Mastering Autodesk Revit Architecture 2011 before it comes out! I just learned from a very reliable source (the publisher) that this post identified the official announced publication date (when they pop the champagne) as August 2 – which remains accurate – but in fact failed to mention that you can get Mastering Autodesk Revit Architecture 2011 from the Wiley website as early as July 12, and from Amazon very shortly thereafter and at most stores where books are sold by July 26. See comment below for more on this. Do not drink and read.

** The final official tally is 1080 pages – the equivalent of each author having written a 360 page book!

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Filed under BIM, education, Integrated Design, Integrated Project Delivery, IPD, modeling, workflow

Fixing our Gaze on BIM and Integrated Design

I want the unobtainable. Other artists paint a bridge, a house, a boat, and that’s the end. I want to paint the air which surrounds the bridge, the house, the boat, the beauty of the air in which these objects are located, and that is nothing short of impossible.

-          Claude Monet

I’ve come across a book that I’d like to share with you. A science book that has some pertinent lessons for those working in BIM – or seriously considering doing so.

In Fixing My Gaze: A Scientist’s Journey into Seeing in Three Dimensions, by Susan R. Barry with a foreword by Oliver Sacks, Barry describes how miraculous it is after 50 years to suddenly be able to see in 3D for the first time.

The memoir is a fascinating account of Sue Barry’s acquisition of stereo-vision at an adult age.

In the book she reveals step-by-step how this new 3D world was revealed to her. And shows how her experiences are not, in the end, unique.

Barry, a neuroscientist, was born with her eyes crossed and literally couldn’t see in all three dimensions. The author, a professor of Neuroscience, remained unable to see in 3D for most of her life.

She was missing depth perception, that visual ability to judge what is closer and farther away.

Everything appeared flat to her.

Snow, for example, would appear to fall in a flat sheet in one plane in front of her.

Barry tells the story of how she was able to learn from others how to successfully correct her vision as an adult.

And how she recovered depth perception when she was 50 after visual therapy with a developmental optometrist.

In her late 40′s Barry was referred to an Optometrist not far from the University where she taught and did research. The Optometrist evaluated her and determined that with a prescribed program of vision therapy, Barry might gain binocular vision. After some hard work, Sue Barry was able to see in 3D.

The book asks and answers: If deliberate effort can rewire sensory processing at 50, what other astounding feats might our brain manage with the right training?

11 Lessons from Fixing My Gaze

“…the brain is a marvelously plastic organ that can continue to change its wiring and thereby its function throughout our adult life.”

-          Eric Kandel, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine

Read Fixing My Gaze if interested in learning how the brain can adapt and change at any stage of life due to the plasticity of the brain through training.

The story of “Stereo Sue” regaining her depth perception at age 50 and astonishing the medical community was first told in a 2006 article by Oliver Sacks in the New Yorker.

Hear Sue’s story on NPR Morning Edition

Or read on for 11 LESSONS that can be extracted from the inspiring book.

Lesson 1: While working in 2D made us all bystanders, working in BIM puts you in the middle of things.

In the book, a visit to Manhattan surprises Barry with skyscrapers that no longer appear as a flat backdrop.

Before acquiring 3D vision, Barry’s 2D existence felt as though she was looking into a snowfall.

From the outside. On the outside, looking in.

Whereas once she trained herself to think in 3D, she felt herself to be within the snowfall, among the flakes. She found herself surrounded by and immersed in life.

Working in BIM once again makes us participants in the design and construction process.

Lesson 2: The Eye in BIM

While the “I” stands for information, could it also stand for “eye?”

Appreciate the many ways that BIM allows us to see things that we were formally unable – or unwilling – to see.

Lesson 3: The Vision Thing

Hindsight, Insight, Foresight.

It’s not for nothing that our projects are located on a site.

The book teaches us that Sue, like many others, who want to experience their worlds in 3D find ways to work around their uncoordinated vision.

The brain does amazing things to compensate for visual deficiencies and retraining shows what’s possible.

Just like those of us working in BIM, by coming up with makeshift, piecemeal workarounds.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

 Those who have a ‘why’ can bear with almost any ‘how.’

-          after Viktor Frankl

Lesson 4: Just a Tool

To say BIM is just a tool is like saying the eye is just a tool.

It’s the profane, rational thing to say.

And it’s wrong.

When you take in their complexity and all that they can accomplish – it is easy to see that both the eye and BIM are more than tools.

We ought to treat them that way.

Barry says that those with 2D vision and those with 3D vision speak different languages.

BIM and sight are processes – not singular things. The more dimensions we afford them, the easier this is to see.

Lesson 5: Fixing our Gaze

As with the three-letter acronym BIM, the three-letter word “fix” has many definitions.

Fix can mean – in need of repair, as in fixing it

To restore by replacing a part or putting together what is torn or broken.

The implication is that we’re broken in some way and we need repair.

To be fixed.

There’s a great deal in our profession and industry that requires fixing.

Your role working in BIM is to fix what doesn’t work. Don’t limit yourself to just one dimension or definition of what it means to work in BIM.

There’s the common use of fix to prepare or cook, as well as to situate: put something, somewhere firmly.

To fasten, to firmly attach, as to a cause.

Hitch your wagon to a star.

-          Emerson.

But to fix can mean to fix our gaze.

To set it, stop it, position it.

On what is important.

Lesson 6: The future is closer than you think

Like the Far Side Cartoon of the car side mirror filled with the huge bug eye with the caption that read: Objects in the mirror appear further than they actually are.

In transforming ourselves from 2D to 3D – from thinking in 3D to communicating in 3D – and with it the attendant realities, there’s no more faking it – in BIM there’s nowhere to hide.

Our models are warts-and-all stories.

Closer to reality than to fantasy, threatening to our associative sensibilities.

Lesson 7: Seeing in 3D takes courage

We don’t give ourselves enough credit.

If author Barry could acquire stereo-vision – the ability to see in 3D – so can you, no matter your role or career position.

Those of us brought up on 2D CAD are committing to fixing our gaze and acquiring stereo-vision.

Going from analog-vision of hand drawing and mono-vision of 2D to stereo-vision of working in 3D.

The book tells a story of perseverance in overcoming obstacles. Obstacles we all must overcome in moving from 2D documentation to 3D design and virtual construction.

Like the author, find and identify success stories of your own.

Lesson 8: We take seeing in 3D – and working in BIM – for granted

Barry had to learn to see in 3D, something that most of us take for granted.

We as design professionals and those working in the construction industry suffered from our own lack of depth perception.

In that we’re not looking at our tools deeply enough.

By viscerally identifying with her 2D life and appreciating her 3D discoveries, as readers we’re able to understand a little of the 3D world to which we’re currently blind.

As with Flatland, many of us still find ourselves seeing in only 2 dimensions, as though we were stuck in CAD.

Ask yourself: When did you first realize that you couldn’t see in 3D?

Architects see in 3D from near the beginning of their careers. What they don’t necessarily do is work in 3D.

All you have to do is think of people like Sue Barry to realize:

You have advantages others do not have and take these for granted.

The book covers the science behind our vision, particularly how it is that we see in three dimensions. Science that we take for granted.

If you have acquired the software.

If you have implemented BIM.

If you have mastered it.

Take a moment now to honor yourself.

You have accomplished something great and profound.

Something that will not only help you, your firm, the contractor and owner but also the profession and industry.

When you learn to work in BIM you are helping others achieve their goals.

Mastering BIM – as you help yourself – you are helping others.

Lesson 9: Depth Charge

From the time of the Renaissance, artists have made use of tricks and cues to create a sense of depth to endow their art work with a sense of life.As BIM endows a stalled profession with a sense of life.

Working in 3D ought to invigorate our senses and shake up our composure.

Professor Barry’s renaissance with her newfound abilities will motivate you to be a serious student again in all it is you still have to learn.

Working in architecture becomes exciting again.

Give yourself the gift of depth perception.

Lesson 10: Keep Things Whole
 
Once, seeing – and working – in 2D was all we knew.
The equivalent of working in little bim without taking the additional dimensional leap into BIG BIM.

Working in BIM completes us as design professionals.

BIM is the quality that gives the architect dimensionality.

Design plus construction. Tool plus process. BIM plus IPD.

Look for that hidden wholeness.

Lesson 11: Knowing vs. Doing

Perception is not something that happens to us, or in us. It is something that we do.

-          Alva Noe, Action in Perception

Today the 3D world of BIM is revealed to us in myriad ways.

In articles, webinars, classes, training sessions, in blogs, in books, in the office.

But knowing BIM is not enough.

Sue, a neuroscientist, knew practically everything there was to know about seeing in 3D or stereopsis, but her world and joy of seeing changed profoundly when she experienced 3D vision.

Knowledge of BIM is not enough – you have to experience it for yourself.  

 

 

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Filed under BIM, BIM expert, BIM trainer, construction industry, defining BIM, design professionals, education, Integrated Project Delivery, IPD

BIM and the Elephant Problem

“With notoriously bad eyesight, forest elephants tend to follow their trunks, using the appendage as a blind person might use fingertips on a stranger’s face-to identify, visualize, gather clues, communicate.”    John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887) on the famous Indian legend

“Over the last couple of years, the term ‘Building Information Model’ or ‘BIM’ has gained widespread popularity. It has not, however, gained a widespread consistent definition—it’s like the blind men describing the elephant. But there’s a lot of fuss being generated over this particular elephant.”    Jim Bedrick AIA, Director of Systems Integration, Webcor Builders

No matter your stripe, architect, we’ve been hearing and reading a lot about BIM of late. This blog is no exception. (Those of you who are reading this and are heavily engaged in it can skip the rest of this sentence. All others read on.)

BIM is many things to many people. Short for Building Information Model (the thing) or Modeling (the activity,) depending on whom you ask or where you look, BIM is the process of generating and managing building data during its life cycle. Or, if you prefer, BIM is the 3D, real-time, dynamic building modeling software used to increase productivity in building design and construction. Oh, did I mention BIM is a common name for a digital representation of the building process to facilitate exchange and interoperability of information in digital format. Got that? And that’s just three of several dozen descriptions and definitions .

One complaint I’ve been starting to hear is that BIM is something else to everyone who uses the term. Forget interoperability, the logic goes, we can’t even agree on what it is or what it means. As one plucky architect put it the other day, BIM is like Obama: it’s whatever you want it to be.

Two analogies might help clarify. One, the story of six blind men that try to describe an elephant. The second comes from Italo Calvino’s ethereal fiction, Invisible Cities – a favorite among architects everywhere.

From a familiar (and rhyming) version of the legend of the blind men trying to describe an elephant

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approach’d the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
“God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!”…

The others go on to describe the elephant as a spear, snake, tree depending on which part of the 3D model, or elephant, they happened to grab hold of. The message for those of us wrestling with BIM is clear: like the blind men, it is all in how you approach it. (And, like BIM, there are Jainist, Discordian, Buddhist, African, Sufi and Hindu versions of this tale.)

Charles Darwin used elephants to illustrate the point that organisms produce more offspring than can survive in the world. He called this The Elephant Problem. Analogically, BIM has produced more definitions than can possibly survive. Something must be done about it. But what?

In Italo Calvino’s resplendent fiction, Invisible Cities, as Marco Polo describes the cities visited on his expeditions to Kublai Kahn – about the city of Armilla, which “has nothing that makes it seem a city, except the water pipes that rise vertically where the houses should be and spread out horizontally where the floors should be,” or the spider-web city of Octavia and many other marvelous cities – he is actually describing details (and different takes) of his native Venice. Kahn believes he is learning about many cities when in actuality there is only one.

One city. Many descriptions.

And so there you have it: Many definitions, but only one BIM: a mercurial and multivalent wonder!

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