Monthly Archives: January 2012

BIM in ACADemia

“The industry needs new specialists and if the academia doesn’t provide them, then the industry will have to resort to setting up private academies”. 
 – Practice 2006: Toolkit 2020 written by two Arup employees

BIM in Academia is a new collection of essays edited by the venerable team of Peggy Deamer and Phillip G. Bernstein.

The book is printed on demand by the Yale School of Architecture Press and therefore a bit hard to find.

So until it becomes more readily available, I’ll do my best to point out some of the more progressive and salient features of this important and much-needed document.

Generally, the 117 page book addresses whether

1. BIM ought to be taught in school, and if so,

2. How

The second in a series of these editor/educators’ books, after 2010’s excellent Building (in) the Future: recasting labor in architecture from Princeton Architectural Press – that I featured here a while back – the new book expresses several viewpoints without taking a strong stand.

The editors allow the faculty essayists to speak for themselves.

BIM in Academia, brought about by the Yale SOA Symposium in 2011, highlights some of the work taking place in US universities at this early moment in BIM’s evolution and argues, at best, that BIM must change the way architects work and are trained.

There’s a lot of great writing here. Of architects in the age of CAD, for example, the book says: “Their output was paper-based projections of the design rather than a simulation of the design wrought whole.”

Peggy Deamer’s opening essay “BIM in Academia” paints a picture of an already over-crowded curriculum which, now, we suddenly want to insert into yet another subject: BIM.

She asks:

  • Is learning BIM a software issue? (and therefore a non-credit workshop)
  • Should it be placed in the structures/technology course?
  • Is it part of professional practice?
  • Or is it a new way to practice design – and therefore be integrated into studio?
  • If this last is the case, should it be offered in the early, core studios – or be offered in an advanced or even post-degree studio?

Deamer emphatically fires the first shot by stating that BIM threatens all of the established hierarchies in academia and that no matter the designation – software, process or some combination – academia’s curriculum structure is unreceptive to BIM.

Next, Phil Bernstein’s serving-as-introductory essay, acknowledges the great divide between practice and education and offers a strategy – a model, really, based on the 40-year-old work of MIT’s Nicholas Negroponte – to re-examine the college curriculum under BIM.

Hereafter, the book is split into two parts: challenges and case studies.

There’s no effort to come to a comprehensive conclusion or to provide clear direction for the road ahead: the work is presented more or less as it was in the symposium.

We are left to come to our own conclusions. But let it be said that there is a lot of useful, helpful information offered here that – by the end of the book – ought to allow the reader to come to their own stance on the subject.

From the moment in the first paragraph that Renée Cheng’s essay, “Facing the Fact of BIM,” calls BIM a “maddeningly slow-to-learn design process,” any thoughts she’s going to gloss over the considerable difficulties of integrating BIM securely into the curriculum suddenly vanish.

Cheng has questioned the role of BIM in architectural education perhaps longer than any other educator or practitioner, so her perspective on past, present and future architecture curriculum is an important and valuable one.

After providing some much-needed background and context, Cheng admits that BIM is “excellent as a building production and project delivery tool” but disappointingly “a poor match with the needs of design students…”

Despite these handicaps, she writes, BIM emphatically has a place in the architectural curricula.

Where, exactly?

Her answer – in 2 hour professional practice courses – unfortunately leaves as many questions as it answers.

While the essays are generally of high quality, there are a couple clunkers – which is unfortunate, given how short a document this is.

“Characterizing the Problem: Bioenergetic Information Modeling” is largely unreadable – the three authors (chefs?) apparently didn’t get the memo that academic jargon belongs in subscription-only journals.

IIT’s “Master of Integrated Building Delivery” reads less like a case study than an advertisement for the program. Seeped in history and process, the text falls flat and fails to mention that the essay’s authors – John Durbrow and Donna Robertson – have either mysteriously left the program or are leaving this year (an oversight that is inexcusable given the book is printed on demand, in real time, and could have been pointed out or at least alluded to.) Full disclosure: I have guest taught, lectured and juried in the program.

Other essays – Andre Chaszar’s Beyond BIM come to mind – are considerably more helpful, after building their case provide specific recommendations for how to proceed.

As for the case studies – “Educating the Master Building Team” is a stand-out in the bunch – viewing BIM as a foundational technology to share information, and is a classic example of how thoughtful, engaging writing can and will help move the profession and industry forward. Excellent effort.

Auburn University’s Master of Design-Build (MDB) program’s case study – “Enabling Integration: the Role of BIM” – by Joshua Emig and Paul Holley extracts extremely useful observations and discussion points from their considerable studio experiment experience.

Points of view

When I asked Phil Bernstein, in my book, BIM and Integrated Design, whether there was room for BIM in school, he said

“There’s a distinction, in my view, between training and teaching. At Yale, for example, you don’t get credit for learning a piece of software, any more than we would give you credit for using a band saw or a water jet cutter. Those are just skills that you pick up as part of the curriculum.” (pp.219-220)

Practitioners elsewhere have voiced their opinions on the subject.

Here is a sampling:

I do not believe that there should be special courses in BIM…BIM should be well integrated into the curriculum as simply what’s part of the professional workflow

At the community college where I teach part time…all the architectural drafting classes are being phased out and are being replaced by “BIM authoring for architects” classes

For industry to benefit from these studies, they must be conducted under Faculty (multidisciplinary) not School (single discipline) settings

More universities should just stop delaying the inevitable and start preparing ALL their AECO students for model-based collaboration and integrated workflows.

BIM programs abound

In Switzerland, at Berne University of Applied Sciences and Lucerne University of Applied Sciences, there are courses that focus on BIM including hands-on interdisciplinary BIM projects

Here is a comprehensive BIM class covering all aspects of BIM/VDC, from authoring to project management on a graduate level at USC School of Civil Engineering in conjunction with Virginia Tech: http://viterbi.usc.edu/news/news/2010/innovation-comes-to.htm.

Penn State has some BIM classes in their masters program.

Washington University in St Louis has also a few BIM courses in their architectural curriculum.

SOBE in UK has a post -grad course http://www.sobe.salford.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate-programmes/bim-and-integrated-design

And one of the best-known programs in CA is at Chico State http://cm.csuchico.edu/degree.html.

Additional reading and viewing

Until the book is more readily available, you might consider reading the following resources:

BIM in Academia: Collaborate, Adapt, Innovate by Alexandra Pollock, SOM New York. Download the White Paper (1.2 MB PDF) presented at Ecobuild America in 2010.

Integrating BIM with Academia: Pennsylvania State University from the 2010 BIM Award Program

Watch Yale University professor, Peggy Deamer, present on BIM‘s pedagogical placement in academia as she presented at the Autodesk Yale BIM Symposium.

The Role of Building Information Modeling (BIM) in Education and Practice abstract was presented by Laura Floyd and Douglas R Seidler at The Interior Design Educators Council 2010 Annual Conference – Atlanta, GA

Advancing BIM in Academia: Explorations in Curricular Integration http://www.igi-global.com/viewtitlesample.aspx?id=62944

And, as mentioned, I also have a chapter on BIM and education in my book, BIM and Integrated Design.

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An Integrated Design Strategy for Every Man, Woman and Child

“The concept of integrated design is key to a sustainable future and ultimately quality of life,” 
Laura Lee

Just as Finith Jernigan’s Makers of the Environment envisioned the average American benefitting from building information modeling (BIM),

Professor Laura Lee’s vision for South Australia reads like an integrated design strategy for every man, woman and child throughout the world.

While her publication was prepared as a series of recommendations to the South Australia government, upon reading it, it soon becomes clear that she had more universal applications in mind.

With her report, “An Integrated Design Strategy for South Australia – Building the Future,” Lee envisions a framework for uniting sustainability, behavior, materials and the external environment into a whole that satisfies the needs of people, environment and place.

I’ve read the report from beginning to end a couple times now and am happy to share my, however haphazard, impressions.

The excellent introduction acknowledges the potential – and urgency – of the state of the world today: the perfect set-up for what’s to come.

It answers why anyone would want to read this report – and, as importantly, why now.

Instead of just writing about design, the booklet (as a product) itself is a perfect argument for the value of good design.

Little touches – such as the global quotes in blue and local quotes in orange – and larger ones: that it is so well written, edited, illustrated and like all great works of art, all-of-a-piece.

Like the integrated design process itself, the report contains myriad voices (a strategy and conclusion I also came to for my own book on Integrated Design.)

From now on, all Integrated Design books really ought to be crowdsourced.

In fact, Lee had 15 partners (represented by 24 people) in the residency, only 4 of whom were designers, which if it was a challenge, doesn’t show.

The report leaves you with the impression that it was created by a singular sensibility in that it has one, compelling voice throughout.

Stevie Summer’s diagrams are intelligent and truly mesmerizing: the perfect accompaniment for the text.

The natural imagery of many of these diagrams – conch shells, DNA – are intertwined & interrelated with the book’s theme and text. Stunning.

Professor Lee invested so much time in the diagrams because she is interested in raising visual literacy.

Interestingly, it soon becomes apparent that the process in conceiving the report served as a model for those she worked with along the way for the integrated design process itself. What an effective way for those she worked with to ‘get’ integrated design.

One of the most appealing attributes of the report is that the overall tone and word choice is strangely non-academic. This is a report anyone could love.

Lee, for example, quotes Dan Pink where she could have quoted Roger Martin. In fact, the report verges on being populist were it not for the fact that the whole thing is so smart.

Because this does not read like research, one can see how it will be implemented (and not – like so many reports – sit on the shelf.)

By the time the reader gets to the end, they’ll recognize that the very tenets of integrated design went into the making of this brilliant and beautiful document.

The tone throughout is optimistic, forward-looking: exactly what it needs to be. No need to threaten readers with impending apocalypse (it doesn’t.)

Most reports and books fizzle out near the end – having spent all their ammo in the first half (if not the first chapter.) Here, some of the best, freshest information and diagrams occur in the recommendations section of the report, near the end, what Professor Lee calls “the heart and the future of the work.”

Many, many more people need to read this report.

Professor Lee is in the process of making an Integrated Design Strategy guidebook with roadmaps for each recommendation along with best practices, weblinks, and case studies and a website with PDF downloads that hopefully will be available soon.

Read the final report of Professor Laura Lee, Adelaide Thinker in Residence in 2009.

Read about Martin Seligman and other thinkers in residence http://www.thinkers.sa.gov.au/ including Prof. Laura Lee http://www.thinkers.sa.gov.au/thinkers/lee/

Read more about Laura Lee, FAIA http://www.thinkers.sa.gov.au/thinkers/lee/who.aspx

Check out these videos featuring Laura Lee, and also this and this video

And look into the integrated design work of other thinkers and makers, including Renée Cheng, Daniel Friedman, Frances Bronet, Ann Dyson, Billie Faircloth, Kiel Moe and many more.

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The Architect (2012)

Speaking of Hollywood, last night I had the opportunity to see Oscar contender, “The Architect,” a film whose story begins in the late-CAD era.

“The Architect,” whether you consider it a screwball comedy, a sentimental melodrama or a spoof, is a 2D black-and-white film that has received a great deal of praise from critics.

The story is a simple and familiar one

 The story focuses on a declining male starchitect and a rising starletchitect, as CAD grows out of fashion and is replaced by BIM.

A valentine to early computer-aided drafting and design, “The Architect,” stars leading man Jean Dujardin as a CAD-using starchitect named George Valentin.

At the top of his profession, Valentin meets eager would-be architect, Peppy Miller.

She dreams of success in architecture, invests time in learning BIM, and as her demand rises in the industry, Valentin’s shine is eradicated.

Architect Valentin faces untold obstacles: the fickleness of the public’s changing taste, the adoption of disruptive new technologies, waning powers that come with age, competition from fellow industry professionals and unemployment, among others.

Faced with the economic insecurity of the Great Recession and technological change that threatens to make him obsolete, George is being crushed in a vise grip all too familiar to mid-career architects.

Refusing to adapt to the onset of BIM, he puts all his money into one last CAD production.

And pays for it.

George has owners in the palm of his hand, at least until BIM arrives

It turns out George isn’t well-suited for BIM, not least because of his mindset and attitude, dependence on 2D CAD and archaic drafting style.

But BIM is perfectly suited to vivacious ingénue Peppy Miller, who crosses paths with George, first as a fangirl, then as an intern in the office of his firm.

In 2009, just after the economy crashes, George’s studio stops making CAD documents.

The studio head announces the end of production of 2D CAD documents, but Valentin insists that BIM is just a fad.

It’s fitting that the next time he meets Peppy, on Rapidograph Studio’s main stairway, she’s on her way up and he’s on his way down.

When the studio head lays-off all his 2D CAD starchitects, George decides to open his own office where he could work in CAD.

His project is submitted on the same day as Miller’s new BIM project, and Valentin is ruined.

His wife kicks him out and he moves into an apartment with his valet, while Miller goes on to become a major 3D star.

“If that’s the future, you can have it!”

However reassuring excursions into bygone golden ages may be – whether drafting in pencil or CAD – they carry with them the potential for revisionism, soft-focus complacency and the refusal to embrace uncomfortable but necessary change.

This is why some critics are grumbling about “The Architect,” which has won a cache of critics’ awards and looks to be a contender for the Best Picture Oscar.

Whereas naysaying design professionals can appreciate the fond look back at the medium they adore with equal devotion, they inevitably see “The Architect” as an all too-comfortable 2D nostalgia trip that represents stasis rather than genuine innovation, provocation or artistic risk that working in 3D enables.

Those skeptics may be missing a modest but meaningful truth buried under “The Architect’s” surface and story, which is that George’s plight could easily be transposed into any modern-day profession or industry.

In one of “The Architect’s” most poignant scenes, George plays a character sinking in a cement pour, an aptly desperate metaphor at a time when so many architects feel they are in over their heads.

It’s a film that taps into our anxieties as we encounter seismic economic and technological transformations.

Having just witnessed his first BIM model, George says at one point:

“If that’s the future, you can have it!”

He could be speaking for an entire generation of architects who feel as if they’re in mortal danger of being left behind, forced into early retirement they can’t afford — literally or psychologically – or leaving the profession altogether.

At the risk of revealing a spoiler, it turns out all is not lost for George.

Disappointingly, it involves a work-around – when everyone recognizes the only way out is the way through.

“The Architect” may be drenched in the romance and visual values of CAD’s bygone era, but it’s a motion picture uncannily of its time.

(Apologies to critics of “The Artist,” which – like this post – is a shameless pastiche.)

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Teaching Tyler Durden to Revit


My iPhone nearly vibrated off the nightstand.

“Mr. Deutsch?’”

Yes?

“I represent a client who is interested in rivet training.”

Revit…

“Is this something you do?”

I explained that I specialize in BIM consulting and what the difference was.

“So you can do this. You wrote the book on BIM, right?”

Thank you but actually there are several excellent…

“Will you come out to California and teach my client rivet?”

When are they looking to start?

Later that week, I found myself driving north from LA along the coast, address in hand. The house was smaller than I remembered from the spread in Architectural Digest.

Miss Jolie? (I almost said Mrs. Smith!)

“Please, come in – excuse the mess, we’re renting – Ellen’s got our old place – while we wait for our new house to be completed. Can I get you something to drink while I get Brad?”

Looking around, I expected to see Oscars or Golden Globes but the place was sparsely furnished, a few architecture photos and sketchbooks piled high on tables, sets of documents strewn across the floor. Not a computer in sight.

“My iMac’s in storage.”

At once both taller – and shorter – than I expected, we shake. He offers me a seat.

“Hey, thanks for coming on such short notice.”

Holding up one of the drawing sets, pointing out the initials “BP” in the title block, I ask: You do your own drafting?

“Always. You can always tell when a double does it. Right?”

We laugh. One drawing set in particular must have had 500 sheets. I try to lift it.

“You see Oceans Eleven?”

And 12 and 13…

“The Bellagio plans?”

Yeah?

“Who did you think drew them?”

Get off!

“Structural and MEP…even the security docs!”

Unreal…

“What they don’t know about me is that I do all my own CAD work. Its true!” He paused, suddenly looking grave. “And that’s the problem…”

Just as I thought: You’re designing your home and want to do it in…

“The house? We’ve actually got someone else on that.”

He cleared his throat, moving a couple inches closer on the divan. Speaking in a whisper:

“I used to be able to show up at a place, say Orleans, and be taken seriously. You know?”

I nodded.

“But now, all of a sudden, you’re not taken seriously unless you can show them that you can do it in BIM.”

I shake my head. Certainly they must make an exception…?

Looking down, shamefully: “I know!”

I hear you…

“So teach me, will you? Teach me Revit. Can you do that for me?”

With all due respect, you must have friends who could…

“Who? Clooney?! The old fart’s still stuck in CAD. Can’t seem to kick it.”

What I…

“And Damon? Jumped on Microstation and never looked back.”

…I think…

“Listen. PBS is thinking about not renewing my sustainability series unless I can show them I got my BIM chops.”

…you need…

“Obama returned my charitable contribution along with a note saying he couldn’t accept it seeing it was ‘CAD money.’”

…to do is…

“And, get this…”

…to learn how…

“They’re thinking of taking away my USGBC award unless I can provide analysis.”

…to put a building together.

Staring at me, incredulous. “What did you just say?”

BIM’s not like CAD. It’s not a drafting tool. Because you’re essentially building the building virtually in the computer before you build it out in the field, in order to work in BIM, you need to know how a building goes together.

“Crap.”

Later that day, on my way back to LAX, I realized what he was looking for was something I couldn’t help him with: “Hollywood BIM.”

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BIM and Integrated Design Top 10 Posts for 2011

2011 was an exciting year for BIM and Integrated Design.

For both my book and blog.

As well as for me, personally:

My book was published in September to great reader response and reviews

In 2011, I created the first-ever musical book trailer video for a BIM book, as well as:

  • Well-received speaking gigs on BIM, IPD, Thought Leadership, Lean Design and Construction at Berkeley, AIA HQ in Washington DC, Northwestern University, IIT and several others in Chicago
  • Not one but two BIM-related articles published in DesignIntelligence
  • Contributed to an article in Residential Architect magazine
  • Had a couple posts featured on Bob Borson’s blog, Life of an Architect
  • Co-founded an integrated AEC school in Chicago
  • Became a Top 10 AEC influencer on social media sites PeerIndex and Klout primarily through my involvement (and your support) on Twitter
  • Began writing a couple articles on BIM and IPD for AIA’s The Architects Handbook of Professional Practice 15th Edition to be released in 2013
  • Grew my consultancy, Deutsch Insights, that I co-founded 12 years ago by working with some of the best universities and BIM experts in the country

But none of this would have happened without you. Readers who continue to visit the blog and engage with its content.

For this and so much more, I thank you.

In case you didn’t catch all of these, here are the top 10 BIM and Integrated Design blog posts for 2011:

36 Arguments for the Existence of BIM

https://bimandintegrateddesign.com/2011/02/24/36-arguments-for-the-existence-of-bim/

Design and construction is made up of two kinds of people: 1. those who see BIM as an evolutionary tool and 2. those who see BIM as a revolutionary process. Or in more familiar terms there are BIM atheists and BIM apologists. Which are you?

How to Learn Revit in 1000 Difficult Lessons

https://bimandintegrateddesign.com/2011/03/01/how-to-learn-revit-in-1000-difficult-lessons/

There’s no getting around it – we each make learning difficult by not honoring the way we best learn.

For AEC Industry, Is Trust the Killer Mobile App?

https://bimandintegrateddesign.com/2011/06/21/for-aec-industry-is-trust-the-killer-mobile-app/

We’re all worried about how we’re going to build buildings when we ought to be focused on building trust.

First Fire, then the Wheel, and now BIM

https://bimandintegrateddesign.com/2011/05/16/first-fire-then-the-wheel-and-now-bim/

Owners didn’t ask for BIM. Nor for IPD. Never did. Not then and not now.

The Perpetual Improvement of Lean Design

https://bimandintegrateddesign.com/2011/01/05/the-perpetual-improvement-of-lean-design/

While much has been written about waste – resources, material, time, money – in construction, relatively little has been written about reducing waste in the design process. Here’s a start.

System Requirements for IPD to Flourish

https://bimandintegrateddesign.com/2011/03/09/system-requirements-for-ipd-to-flourish/

We all know with each release of software the computer system requirements increase. But how about for Integrated Project Delivery (IPD)?

BIM and Integrated Design: the College Curriculum

https://bimandintegrateddesign.com/2011/02/22/bim-and-integrated-design-the-college-course/

MoneyBIMball

https://bimandintegrateddesign.com/2011/10/02/moneybimball/

This movie raises two questions we need to answer: Is it time we honor our inner geek? Is it time we get creative with our data?

2011-12 BIM Conferences

https://bimandintegrateddesign.com/2011/08/12/2011-12-bim-conferences/

The announcement of the launch of BIM and Integrated Design: the college course gets me thinking about the role of BIM and IPD in academia.

Is BIM in 10 Words or Less Still BIM?

https://bimandintegrateddesign.com/2011/09/15/is-bim-in-10-words-or-less-still-bim/

When you pare Revit down, what’s lost in translation? Actually, very little.

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