Category Archives: process

Taking BIM and IPD to Task

Making BIM Beyond Boundaries Actionable

In my recent piece in DesignIntelligence, BIM Beyond Boundaries, I argue for widening our outlook and reach as we deepen our skills.

No doubt, a somewhat unpopular stance today.

In the article I am not suggesting that designers, architects and managers abandon their expertise:

  • Project designers can always deepen their skills.
  • Project architects can always improve their technology chops and knowhow.
  • Project managers can do the same for their leadership skills.
  • And others can improve their specialties.

What I am suggesting is for you to spend the next 90 days branching out.

Looking at new ways to work and practice effectively with your teammates.

So often these thought pieces remain just that – saved in our hard drives or on our nightstands – but seldom put into use.

Here, in this post, I unpack some key points from the article BIM Beyond Boundaries.

And make some suggested next steps that you can take based on the prescriptions made in the article.

Think of it as a way of taking the article to task – by making the content actionable.

Avoiding the typical response to feel good articles by answering the question: What now?

What follows are some suggested resources, activities and links to use as action items as you build your breadth as well as depth.

Skim the bullets below, find one that captures your attention and start expanding:

  • Form an informal group. Meet to discuss ways your firm can collaborate and partner
  • Bring other professionals into the office for lunch-and-learns – not just sales reps
  • Form a mastermind group in your firm and hold each other accountable for change items

“Opting for depth over breadth of expertise is a false choice that will lead individuals, organizations, the profession, and industry in the wrong direction.”

  • Apply the concepts from Daniel Goleman’s bestseller, Emotional Intelligence, into your workplace
  • Assign chapters and meet at lunch to discuss the book
  • Start here then apply it to leadership EQ
  • Read a book on social intelligence such as Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships or Social Intelligence: The New Science of Success

“Several forces are converging to create an unprecedented and timely opportunity for organizations that have embraced building information modeling (BIM). These forces — including the rise of the expert, the growing complexity and speed of projects, and BIM’s increasing recognition as an enabler, catalyst, and facilitator of team collaboration — also present significant challenges that can be overcome with the right approach and mindset.”

  • Expertise today requires change and growth, not retention of facts. Read Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success for a thorough understanding of the difference between a fixed and growth mindset
  • Identify those within your organization with a fixed mindset and determine their likelihood of working towards one of growth
  • Aim to make all of your key personnel those with growth mindsets
  • Consider applying ideas from Building Expertise: Cognitive Methods for Training and Performance Improvement to your organization’s learning initiatives
  • Consider joining  and participating in discussions on what it means to be an expert, among others, at the KA Connect LinkedIn group.

“At one time, being an expert meant knowing more than one’s competitors in a particular field. Firms that reinforced their expert culture hoarded information, which resulted in silos of expertise. Today, many firms are looking to hire people perceived as building and software technology experts, shortsightedly addressing today’s needs at the expense of tomorrow’s.”

  • Not all positions require the applicant to be an expert. See, for example, Why I Will Never, see Ever Hire A “Social Media Expert”

“Due to the speed and complexity of projects, we do not have time to acquire knowledge the old way — slowly, over time, through traditional means.”

  • Familiarize yourself with  the concept of “wicked problems”
  • Familiarize yourself with the concept of ‘design assist’ and other ways to tackle fast, large-scaled and complex projects
  • Access answers and best practices through online discussions and social media

“Being an expert is no longer about telling people what you know so much as understanding what questions to ask, who to ask, and applying knowledge flexibly and contextually to the specific situation at hand.

“Expertise has often been associated with teaching and mentoring. Today it’s more concerned with learning than knowing: less to do with continuing education and more with practicing and engaging in continuous education.”

  • Read the important new book, A New Culture of Learning. By exploring play, innovation, and the cultivation of the imagination as cornerstones of learning, the authors create a vision of learning for the future that is achievable, scalable and one that grows along with the technology that fosters it and the people who engage with it.
  • Give copies of the book to key colleagues and meet to discuss concepts and ideas with the intention of applying them to your organization.

“Social media presents the would-be expert with both opportunities and challenges. Working with the understanding that somebody somewhere has already done what you are trying to do, design professionals, like agile technology experts, can find what they’re looking for by tapping into their networks and aggregating the responses. Conversely, due to the rise of social media, virtually all anyone has to do today to be considered a technology expert is to call themselves one. Because social networks allow people to proclaim themselves experts, it can be hard to know who to turn to, resulting in the rise of otherwise unnecessary certifications.”

  • Apply what you’ve learned via ideas from the book The New Social Learning: A Guide to Transforming Organizations Through Social Media.

“To grow one’s professional reputation, expertise in BIM counter-intuitively requires unlearning, detachment, collaboration, and developing both deep skills and broad interests.”

“We tend to cooperate conditionally, responding to the behavior of others.”

  • If you haven’t done so already, read the blog post ‘Unlearning to Collaborate’
  • Take a look at Why We Cooperate by Michael Tomasello for a better understanding of how we all start out as collaborators and unlearn these behaviors along the way  

“As we grow in our careers, we tend to focus more on people issues and less on technology.”

  • When you consider your own career, does this sound accurate? What implications might this have in terms of how you focus your attention and time in the future? What can you start doing now to prepare?

“Achieving higher levels of BIM use — including analysis, computation, and fabrication — requires skills and a mindset that allow us to work productively and effectively in a collaborative setting.”

  • Many firms that have adopted and implemented BIM software solutions have not used the technology or process to their greatest advantage. To do so not only requires familiarizing yourself with these higher uses – but working more collaboratively with others on the team.
  • If you – or your organization – have not already done so, make the commitment to take-on BIM’s higher uses in the next 6-12 months.
  • Invite local experts who have used BIM for analysis, for sustainability, for fabrication to come to your office to give a demonstration. Or better yet, request and invite and make a visit to their operations to see how they are utilizing the tools and work processes. A simple visit such as this can spark a future teaming or partnering opportunity.
  • Follow-up by discussing how you can go about implementing this higher use of BIM on your next project.

“With BIM, technical expertise should not be considered more important than increasing one’s social intelligence, empathy, or the ability to relate well with others.”

  • Re-familiarize yourself with the concept of attaining and developing T-shaped skills.
  • Consider placing primarily T-shaped people on your project teams
  • Read-up on the subject in ‘T-Shaped BIM’ as well as here.

There is so much more we can all do to become well-rounded professionals.

These suggestions are only a start.

At the risk of overwhelming you, I’ll stop for now with these.

If you know of other sources – or have other suggestions or ideas of your own – please let us know by leaving a comment.

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BIM and Integrated Design – The Week in Tweets

Again, here are the BIM and IPD-related Tweets that my followers on Twitter have shared with their followers (retweeted or RT in Twitter parlance.)

Take a look. Click on the links to find articles, websites and other resources.

If you are not a Tweeter, by browsing the list of micro-posts you will get a good idea of how I use it. And if you like what you see, follow me on Twitter @randydeutsch

Enjoy!

@fedenegro @AddThis ‘BIM Implementation Guide’ is a great book – you can read my short review (and others) here http://amzn.to/m7M16o

 

Revit Roles: summary of the basic tasks in a #Revit environment from the perspective of a project manager http://bit.ly/l3OQ8P

 

Oldie but goodie. The Freshman: levels of #knowledge required of users to be successful making content for #Revithttp://bit.ly/jYZh8g#BIM

 

School’s out? New Course to Explore #BIM Contracts & Risk Allocation http://bit.ly/jM0GDs

 

BIM: Designing tomorrow http://bit.ly/mrTPLy#BIM

 

7 key ways BIM will affect you and your work: De-coding #BIMhttp://bit.ly/kZGOrA

 

Designing for Failure in the Cloud http://onforb.es/ix0QKI

 

Proof that #construction industry is reducing costs stemming from waste & adopting open-standard #BIMhttp://bit.ly/lAvueX #AEC #IPD

 

Building owners: Construction Owners Association of America addresses #BIM & #IPD from perspective of the owner http://www.coaa.org/ #AEC

 

He will be missed: Ralph Lerner, former Princeton #architecture school dean, dies at 61 http://bit.ly/m4DIrx #architects

 

Driving #Construction Project Success thru Neutral Trust Based #Collaborationhttp: //bit.ly/baJkzA & comments http://bit.ly/l1yhhg #BIM #IPD

 

22 people have “liked” my book ‘BIM and Integrated Design’ at http://amzn.to/kCKUuP & it doesn’t even come out for 3 months!

 

Interested in Making Your Company BIM-friendly? Check out AGC’s #BIM Education Program http://bit.ly/kyVQJ2 #AEC

 

Tech Trends: On-Site iPads Change the #AEC Game http://bit.ly/knm5Ym

 

Set them straight as soon as possible: Have the #BIM Truth Talk with Your Boss @Cadalyst_Maghttp://bit.ly/mlakae

 

Visit the Knowledge Lens: Northwestern U’s Center for Learning & Organizational Change, a community of practitioners http://bit.ly/bfXiPd

 

Improving Building Industry Results thru Integrated Project Delivery & Building Information Modeling http://bit.ly/mxOlcv #BIM #IPD #AEC

 

BIM Viewing Comes to the iPad – Portable #BIM now fully implemented http://bit.ly/lHZAEi #AEC #construction #architects #revit

 

@Opening_Design Have you seen this? via @fedenegro Basecamp for architects? http://ow.ly/52X0a #mergersandaquisitions #AEC

 

Top 10 List of “What BIM is NOT…” Vote today! via @caddguru http://bit.ly/ma7Jqt

 

Blog prediction: Autodesk will launch an integrated, multidisciplinary version of its #BIM solution: #Revit Integrated http://bit.ly/kugzGt

 

Webinar provides guidance to #construction counsel for evaluating whether & when to use AIA or ConsensusDOCs for #IPD http://bit.ly/mn7wLf

 

Integrated Project Delivery Invites Innovative Insurance Model http://bit.ly/lp0DIR > ‘invites’ but doesn’t innovate or solve #IPD

 

Polymath, Renaissance person, Multidisciplinarian (!) – Why we all must become one http://zd.net/kRoKem

 

Interview w Vinnie Mirchandani author of The New Polymath: Profiles in Compound-Technology #Innovations http://zd.net/91pytu

 

#Revit – Family Standards and Best Practices Version 2.0 (Kindle Edition) for creation of Revit family files http://amzn.to/kF0tZ4 #BIM

 

Check out the Northern California Virtual Design & Construction (NCVDC) website & blog – just launched http://ncvdc.org/ #BIM #IPD

 

Reserve yr spot! 5th Annual USC Symposium on Extreme #BIM: Parametrics & Customization. Friday, July 8 small f(r)ee http://bit.ly/lBCUsL

 

N Cal Virtual Design & Construction (NCVDC) meeting May 26, 2011 5:00 PM (PT) @perkinswill_SF http://bit.ly/lVqh0E #BIM #IPD #VDC #AEC

 

What do part-time & executive MBA programs have in common with Integrated Project Delivery? They’re both alternative delivery models! #IPD

 

Manhattan Real Estate Software did a nice write-up on my blog today (take that, Altos Research!) #BIM Grows Up http://bit.ly/kIPQDN

 

Fact: Half of all presentation proposals for CoreNet Fall 2011 Summit were on Building Information Modeling #BIMhttp://bit.ly/kIPQDN

 

FYI my rss feeds https://bimandintegrateddesign.com//rss.xml http://architects2zebras.com/rss.xml http://thedesignstrategist.com/rss.xml

 

To compete in a knowledge-based economy business leaders need to reinvent themselves as innovators in services http://bit.ly/ixxU24

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Building Model Client-Designer Relationships

You don’t need to be a designer to benefit from the best practices espoused in this magnificent new book. A must-have for designers, those in design management and anyone who works with designers on integrated teams.

What does a book on design strategy have to do with BIM and integrated design?

It turns out – a great deal.

For it turns out that today designers of  all stripes emphasize co-creation, communication, mutual benefit, respect and trust in building strong team relationships.

These qualities are no longer the sole province of those participating in Integrated Project Delivery.

Based on over 100 interviews with designers, researchers and educators, The_Strategic_Designer by David Holston provides an overview of the design process and designer’s best practices.

The Strategic Designer: Tools and techniques for managing the design process, published by F+W Media and HOW Design, is billed as a Strategic Graphic Design Thinking book.

Despite this categorization, the subject matter transcends graphic design and can be universally applied to any of the design trades and professions including architectural design.

The book description will sound familiar to anyone working in architecture and related design professions: on integrated teams

As designers look for ways to stay competitive in the conceptual economy and address the increasing complexity of design problems, they are seeing that they must not only be experts in form, but must also have the ability to collaborate, to design in context and be accountable through measurement. By adopting a process that considers collaboration, context and accountability, designers move from makers of things to strategists.

The book focuses on the designer’s workflow, ideation techniques, client relationships and methods for measuring the success of their projects.

But it doesn’t stop there.

An excellent foreward by Shawn M McKinney, alone, is worth the investment in the book.

Each chapter covers a specific design phase emphasis, providing a practical step-by-step approach, complete with tools and techniques.

  • The Conceptual Economy – where those who have the ability to collaborate and manage the increasing complexity of design will have greater opportunities
  • Overview of the Design Process – a process rife with opportunities for misinformation, dead ends, and divergent tracks, as well as amazing outcomes
  • The Value of Process – the benefits of having a well-defined design process
  • The Collaborative Designer – emphasizing co-creation, communication, mutual benefit, respect and trust in a strong client-designer relationship. This is a particularly rich chapter, addressing and answering such questions as: What makes a Good Designer? What Makes a Good Client? and Clients to Avoid. There’s a wonderful sidebar on: Seven Principles for Managing Creative Tension.
  • Empathic Design – explaining how research provides a path and imperative for moving forward
  • Understanding the Business – includes a breakdown of basic strategy techniques and an explanation of the purpose of business analysis as understanding and defining goals of the client
  • Designing with the End User in Mind – with an emphasis on facilitating and moderating participatory and collaborative work sessions. The Designing for People chapter focuses on research as a valuable tool for gaining insight into the organizational needs of clients and their prospective audiences.
  • Managing Ideas – especially when ideating with others in a participatory or collaborative setting, relying heavily on the experiences and knowledge of people involved.
  • Making Strategy Visible – how the designer takes an empathic approach to design that connects business goals with user needs.
  • Design Accountability – asking: Why is design hard to measure? And answering by sharing significant research findings and metrics. Salient quote: “The price for a seat at the decision-making table is accountability.”
  • Planning in a Turbulent Environment – the days of using a linear design process are over. Strategic designers face increasingly wicked problems. A helpful framework offered by project management.
  • Refining Your Process – so it can provide a common understanding for “how things get done” mitigating wasted efforts while creating value for the client and user alike.

Holston’s text anticipates your questions and concerns and places each topic in a larger context. He is clearly in control of his subject.

The author places the book and subject squarely in Dan Pink’s Conceptual Economy, a term describing the contribution of creativity, innovation, and design skills to economic competitiveness, especially in the global context.

In his book A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink explains how the economy is now moving from the information age to the conceptual age.

Later in The Strategic Designer, Rotman School of Management dean Roger L Martin says that the world is moving from the Information Economy to a Design Economy. A small distinction, but one that unnecessarily complicates matters. I would look to a book such as this to clarify the playing field, at the very least to acknowledge that the labeling of epochs and phraseology are still a work-in-progress.

The book’s strength is not in creating new knowledge – but in repackaging what is largely already known, experientially by every designer – in an easy to carry tome.

In this sense, the book is not a product of the Conceptual Age, but instead is a well-designed, convenient and accessible agglomeration, aggregating both explicit and, perhaps the greater achievement here, tacit knowledge on the subject.

The design world – including the universe of BIM and IPD – is a much better place for having this book at its disposal.

The Strategic Designer is a must-have book for designers, those who manage design projects and those who work with designers in a collaborative setting. It will benefit anyone participating in integrated teams by placing them in a multi-disciplinary mindset. Highly recommended. 

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BIM and Integrated Design: The Week in Tweets

Here are some of my Tweets that had the most impact from May 16-22 2011, all 140 characters or less.

BIM and IPD-related Tweets that my followers on Twitter have shared with their followers (retweeted or RT in Twitter parlance.)

Take a look. If you are not a Tweeter, by browsing the list of micro-posts you will get a good idea of how I use it.

And if you like what you see, follow me on Twitter @randydeutsch

“We’re stuck in a mode where we’re using old systems of understanding learning to try to understand new forms.” ~ Douglas Thomas

Relating to people: #Construction sector gains soft skills w mentoring. Program helps workers w communication http://bit.ly/kODaWT#AEC

#BIM lawsuit: You read the headline? Now, read the +70 comments http://bit.ly/jRqH85 (Then, if necessary, read the article.)

Presentation recorded at the NYC Revit Users Group May 2011 Meeting: New Features in Revit 2012 http://vimeo.com/24012603#BIM

Finally, some good news for the hard-hit design profession: Firms are hiring again! Architecture Employment on the Rise http://bit.ly/lZ4caM

100% of UK government projects to use #BIM within five years http://bit.ly/lfzAk7

“America seems very rich but I never see anyone actually making anything.” from Making Things in America, PAUL KRUGMAN http://nyti.ms/mrka7v

You’ve heard it before: learning is a change you’re introducing into a work culture. #Learning Strategy Buy-In http://bit.ly/jpFLm8

Sustainable Performance Institute promises to deliver on the promise of sustainability http://www.sustainable-performance.org/#green

Looking Beyond the Structure: Critical Thinking for #Designers & #Architectshttp://amzn.to/iAkbEE

Computational Design Thinking: influential thinking on the formation of today’s computational #design discourse http://bit.ly/mLKtNq

Excellent review of AIA 2011 Convention: Thomas Friedman’s Keynote & Energy-Related Technologies @AECbyteshttp://bit.ly/m0Wp5m#AIA2011

“Building Industry Future Belongs to Contractors Who Know BIM.” Really? Not architects? http://bit.ly/kOsWWc#AIA2011

Learn how to protect your organization contractually from risks & legal challenges that come with #BIMhttp://bit.ly/l6Dcgm#revit#AEC

Is the Legal Risk of Building Information Modeling Real or Imagined? http://bit.ly/l6Dcgm#BIM

Daunting mountain to climb? Break it into molehills. Change Management and the Power of Small Wins http://bit.ly/jlEofm

The problem wasn’t #BIM, but poor communication. “Design team never discussed installation sequence w the contractor” http://bit.ly/ijYpiW

Description of Integrated Project Delivery course at California Polytechnic State University http://bit.ly/k10moh#IPD

34 days 18 hours 31 minutes 28 seconds 27 seconds 26 seconds…left until Revit Tech Conf 2011! http://bit.ly/cJGu7L#RTCUSA2011

3 reasons to attend Revit Tech Conf: 1. in California 2. spend 3 days w other Revit users 3. LOTS to learn http://bit.ly/cJGu7L#RTCUSA2011

The biggest challenge architects face today is making themselves relevant to owners.

Call for Presentations: submissions for the AIA 2012 National Convention in Washington, DC are due July 1

By adopting a process that considers collaboration, designers move from makers of things to design strategists http://bit.ly/jAG7dG

Ryan Schultz is the mastermind behind collaboration platform @Opening_Design. Check out his profile http://www.linkedin.com/in/ryanschultz

OpeningDesign.com is a community platform where #AEC professionals can collaborate with fellow building professionals. http://bit.ly/iXbciV

My book already ranked by Amazon Bestsellers Rank #669,047 in Books – and it doesn’t even come out until September http://amzn.to/kCKUuP

Click here to read the AUGIWorld May 2011 issue >>> http://bit.ly/fpjryJ#BIM#IPD#Lean#AEC

GREAT post by Case’s uber-BIM fanboy @davidfano Practice 2.0: “BIM is an opportunity, not a problem” @ArchDailyhttp://ow.ly/4WKKO

Owners didn’t ask for #BIM or for #IPD. They asked for less waste & adversity, more predictability & value. http://bit.ly/c4AHUq

Due to complications & risks associated with #IPD‘s multiparty contracts some are pushing integrated delivery (ID) http://bit.ly/iPPUSM

How to Reap the Benefits of #IPD w/o Pitfalls of a Multiparty Contract? http://bit.ly/kl4PWS & presentation http://bit.ly/k0ng2o

Launch event of the world’s first Masters program in BIM and Integrated Design on 7th June http://bit.ly/lBTnA9 & http://bit.ly/mfbl7G

Every Public Private Partnership project is by definition an Integrated Project Delivery project. Without #IPD#PPP would not exist.

Alternative Project Delivery Methods for Public Works Projects on difficulties of implementing #IPD in public sector http://bit.ly/mFnV4Q

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First Fire, then the Wheel, and now BIM

Owners didn’t ask for BIM.

Nor for IPD.

Never did.

Not then and not now.

Its part of the disconnect we’re experiencing in the profession and industry.

BIM may be purpose-built,

But nothing’s purpose-driven until it’s owner-driven.

And right now, other than healthcare and government mandates, very little is being driven by anybody.

So while owners didn’t ask for BIM or for IPD,

What they did ask for was less waste and adversity, more predictability and value.

We said we can give you that.

And we did.

Or so we thought.

Because we didn’t give them less and more of what they asked for.

We gave them BIM and IPD.

To us – they’re the same.

One leads to the other.

But to them – there’s a difference.

And that difference takes the form of a gap.

A gap we’ve yet to fill.

We as a profession and industry may be making great strides in adopting, implementing and using the technology and collaborative work processes necessary to make BIM and integrated design a reality.

But we’re doing little when it comes to explaining what BIM and IPD can do – what they’re capable of – to the client.

Go on.

Take them out of the box for the owner.

Give them a demonstration of how they work.

Put in the batteries and turn them on.

BIM first.

Then, once you got that going, show them how BIM enables IPD.

In giving owners BIM and IPD, we gave them exactly what they wanted and needed.

We gave them fire.

And we gave them the wheel.

Only they don’t know that yet.

Because we haven’t told them.

And until owners know what BIM and IPD mean to their goals and to their businesses, they won’t value them.

After taking BIM and IPD for a spin, they’ll be back into the bin with the other toys.

Folks,

This wheel’s on fire
Rolling down the road
Best notify my next of kin
This wheel shall explode!

Bob Dylan, who wrote these lyrics, an evocation of chaos, turns 70 this week.

If BIM and integrated design hope to see their 70th birthday

We need to do a better job of describing, explaining and justifying just what they mean.

What they do.

And who they do it for.

Design professionals and constructors are visual types.

If words were our strong suit, we’d be on the owner side ourselves.

But what is obvious to us may not be clear to them.

We need to become better storytellers – for that’s really how one learns best.

And not by berating with bullets and numbers.

The LinkedIn group, BIM for Owners, and James Salmon’s Collaborative BIM Advocates are a start.

We need to convince our owners to not only join, but join the discussion and participate.

We need them to understand how they, and their project, can benefit.

And while data and hard numbers help, in the end it’s not a rational choice.

But one of trust, gut and intuition.

Above all, we need to enchant and woo and wow our clients,

So that they in turn proactively request BIM and IPD on every job.

Until owners no longer have to ask for them.

Because BIM and integrated design will be – a foregone conclusion – part of the atmosphere.

As ever-present, prevalent – and necessary – on design and construction projects as windows and doors.

Then, and only then, we’ll have something to celebrate.

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Filed under collaboration, construction industry, design professionals, Integrated Design, Integrated Project Delivery, IPD, process, Uncategorized

My Back Pages

Ah, but I was so much older then

I’m younger than that now

This is how someone considers buying a book.

A physical book.

They look at the cover.

They turn it over and read the back cover.

If compelled to, they’ll open the book to its frontmatter, starting with the table of contents.

And take it from there.

For a truly brilliant step by step guide to quickly and effectively size-up a non-fiction book, read this or better yet, revisit Mortimer Adler’s classic, How to Read a Book.

With the front cover set, here we’ll turn to the back cover copy.

Because the back cover copy is used to describe the book on online bookselling sites such as Amazon and in catalogues.

Get the back cover copy wrong, and you’re pulped.

Over 2 years in the making, my soon to be published book, BIM and Integrated Design: Strategies for Architectural Practice, is busily being tended to by Wiley’s publishing pros.

There’s nothing more disheartening to put your heart and soul into a 300+ page book only to discover on such venerable sites as Amazon,  Borders, and even John Wiley and Son’s own site, and a score of other random sites, that the marketing copy – the book description – doesn’t match the book you’ve written.

Amazon’s site currently describes my book thus:

Building Information Modeling (BIM) software combines 3-D elements and information in all aspects of the design of a building.

While many books are published on BIM related to technology and computer programs, this one focuses on the practice-related information needs of architects, showing them how BIM and integrated practice can transform their practices. It features:

  • Methods for addressing the obstacles and challenges to implementing BIM
  • How to implement it in an efficient and effective manner
  • How to use BIM as a tool to transform the role of architects

I came across this description posted at Amazon and I didn’t recognize my book.

So I spoke up.

Grateful to the good people at Wiley to provide me with the chance to more accurately – and enticingly – represent the arguments put forth and subjects covered in my book, I presented them with a completely revised back cover copy.

I’d like to share it with you today.

Hopefully this text will be not only readable, but strike a chord in readers.

And compel them to open the book, explore its contents and benefit from the contents herein.

Let me know what you think.

 …

[back cover]

[bookstore category:] Architecture/Professional Practice

[headline]

Discover how BIM technologies and collaborative work processes bring about critical, necessary changes in the architecture profession

The first book devoted to the subject of how BIM affects individuals and organizations working within the ever-changing construction industry, BIM and Integrated Design discusses the implementation of building information modeling software as a cultural process with a focus on the technology’s impact and transformative effect—both potentially disruptive and liberating—on the social, psychological, and practical aspects of the workplace.

BIM and Integrated Design answers the questions that BIM poses to the firm that adopts it. Through thorough research and a series of case study interviews with industry leaders—and leaders in the making out from behind the monitor—BIM and Integrated Design helps you learn:

  • Effective learning strategies for fully understanding BIM software and its use
  • Key points about integrated design to help you promote the process to owners and your team
  • How BIM changes not only the technology, process, and delivery but also the leadership playing field
  • How to become a more effective leader no matter where you find yourself in the organization or on the project team
  • How the introduction of BIM into the workforce has significant education, recruitment, and training implications

Covering all of the human issues brought about or exacerbated by the advent of BIM into the architecture workplace, profession, and industry, BIM and Integrated Design shows how to overcome real and perceived barriers to its use.

Randy Deutsch AIA, LEED-AP is an architect, design strategist and speaker responsible for the design of over 100 large, complex building projects. Recognized as a BIM strategist and IPD advocate, his writing and design work have appeared in DesignIntelligence and Architectural_Record among other industry periodicals. Recipient of the AIA Young Architect Award – Chicago, Randy has been an educator at one of the nation’s top graduate architecture programs, leading an integrated building science/design studio and professional practice course. He is recognized as a professional thought and practice leader, contributor to the industry’s leading social networks, and keynote speaker on the subjects of technology, innovation, lean construction, knowledge management, employee engagement and collaboration. Randy blogs at bimandintegrateddesign.com and architects2zebras.com, both featured in ARCHITECT magazine.

Feel this book description still needs improvement? Let me know by leaving a comment.

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Filed under BIM, collaboration, IPD, modeling, process

Building Knowledge in Architecture

Using books as floatation devices is nothing new.

Cradle to Cradle, subtitled Remaking the Way We Make Things, is printed on waterproof paper for this reason.

Poetry anthologies served this purpose after 9/11 as did commonplace books carried by soldiers.

In fact, the book I’m about to introduce you to defines the original use of the word “communication” to mean bringing something to the “common place, to the community, to make it part of the larger social group.”

That is what I hope to accomplish with this review.

Building Knowledge in Architecture is a new book and lifesaver by architect, educator, researcher, scholar and poet, Richard Foqué.

On the academic side, Foqué is a professor and dean emeritus at the Henry van de Velde Higher Institute of Architecture at the University College Antwerp.

On the practice side, Foqué is the founder and honorary principal of FDA Architects (now OSAR), one of the largest architectural firms in Flanders.

Richard Foqué’s work is characterized by the integration of architecture, art, design and science and reflected in the book “Bringing the World into Culture”, dedicated to Foqué and in which 21 eminent scholars, architects and designers bring a tribute to his work. An interdisciplinary thinker, Foqué lives and works in Antwerp, Belgium.

But don’t read Building Knowledge in Architecture because of his credentials.

Read this book because Richard Foqué is the first poet to write beautifully and meaningfully about the architect, design, creativity,

And as importantly, digital design tools such as BIM and collaborative work processes such as integrated design, design-build, lean construction and design thinking, subjects at the focus of these discussions.

You had me at Introduction

A book, like any of us, competes in a marketplace for attention.

Building Knowledge in Architecture, until today, appears to have been satisfied waiting patiently to be discovered on library shelves.

Book, wait no more.

To stand out and distinguish yourself, says consultant and author Sally Hogshead, you get only 9 seconds.

Because that’s how long our attention spans today have been shortened to.

Reader, here I’ll introduce you to what will surely become a fine traveling companion and fellow conversationalist in the weeks ahead.

But I’ll need 9 minutes to do so – not 9 seconds. So please bear with me.

Man Measuring the Clouds

A passing glance at a sculpture, Man Measuring the Clouds, inspired Foqué to reflect on architecture and what it means to be an architect today.

“The architect works in the field of tension between imagination and reality. The architect’s task is to convert the dreams and often unreachable wishes of the client into a buildable concept, which should be functional, technically resolved, and in compliance with all building and safety codes, but at the same time must inspire a sense of well-being and have the necessary aesthetic qualities to contribute to and enrich its context.”

Foqué then asks:

“Is the architect the person who is measuring the clouds all the time? Is architectural design, per se, an impossible task to perform? In other words, what is the essence of being an architect? What are the skills, competencies, and knowledge an architect needs to perform as a true professional?”

Aware of the access to practical knowledge readily available to other fields such as medicine, business and law, things can be otherwise for the architectural profession, the author sets out in search of a robust knowledge base architects can access:

“In my own practice, I have endeavored to use my professional experience and accumulated know-how in an innovative way for every new commission. But I have always been left with a feeling of discontent: Could I have done better? Did I use all the creative potential and knowledge at my disposal, and did I not overlook essential elements?”

Foqué concludes that the architectural profession no longer has a shared knowledge base. Building Knowledge in Architecture asks all of the important questions:

“Why did we abandon or sacrifice (this) knowledge base? Why is the architectural profession drifting? Why are we sometimes reinventing the obvious? Why do we struggle to cope with contemporary technological evolution, and why is it so difficult to integrate in a satisfactory way new findings and insights into our design solutions? Why are we losing ground, and why are essential responsibilities of our professional practice being assumed by others?”

One page into the book, you realize you have underlined every line. It is one of those books.

The Creation of New Knowledge through Practice

The book is organized in two parts.

In Part 1, Building Knowledge in Architecture serves as a practical overview of contemporary architectural design methods, and proposes design – apart from science and art – as a third way to investigate the real world.

“Perceiving themselves as practitioners of a ‘creative’ profession, architects hover between science and art.” p. 25

This is one of the very few books that discuss new digital design tools such as building information modeling (BIM) from academic, theoretical and practical standpoints (discussed for the first time on p. 93.)

But also integrated project delivery (IPD) or at least a facsimile of the same.

In the section called The Exteriorization of the Design Process, Foqué indicates that recent evolution of communication information technology processes forces designers

“…to interact increasingly with his environment. He has no escape, so to speak, but must engage in a permanent dialogue with his surrounding world.” p. 82

Foqué points out that the concept of transdisciplinarity – and the way specialized knowledge can be integrated – harkens back to the work of developmental child psychologist, Jean Piaget, in the 1970’s.

Where, according to the author, specialized knowledge needs to be incorporated into a comprehensive body of integrated knowledge, “within a global system of values and well-considered choices.”

Per Piaget, those who have taken part on integrated design teams will recognize the suggestion that multidisciplinary collaboration is, at root, child’s play.

Key quotes:

“Learning should be revalorized in the sense that the creators of knowledge should also be held accountable for the application of that knowledge.” P. 24

“It is recognized that at the modern university, there exists a hierarchy of knowledge, which starts with the basic and fundamental science at the top, applied science in the middle, and technical skills at the bottom.” P. 26

Explaining why digital design tools, while used extensively, are infrequently taught at the university.

“…grounded in the field of tension between ‘technical’ performance and ‘artistic’ creation. It is exactly in that field of tension that every professional discipline grounds its own knowledge base.” P. 26

Foqué defines a critical component of the architect’s arsenal, intuition, as “a not-yet-conceptualized and not-yet-systematized form of knowledge.” P. 27

Beautiful.

Before I go on to quote every line in the book, I want to point out an additional pleasure in reading a book written with a poet’s sensibility.

In describing the synergistic integration of art, science and technology, Foqué uses the seemingly simple example of learning to ride a bike.

“If you describe every part of a bike in extreme detail and add these descriptions together, you will by no means have produced an appropriate description of a bike.”

He concludes this explanation:

“In other words, it is not by knowing the why that you master the how. You need to add the artistic dimension, the art of bike-riding.”

As only a poet – who is also an architect, educator, scholar – could have written.

Foqué explains the now familiar story of how architects abandoned responsibility, and in doing so, relinquished authority, over the past 40 years.

He asks: How can we reverse this decline?

Part 2 of the book presents his case, so to speak.

Reinventing the Obvious

In Part 2, Building Knowledge in Architecture makes the case for case studies in architecture.

The case goes something like this:

Because case studies are used as teaching tools at law, medicine, and in MBA programs, architectural training should also include more reading and creating of case studies.

Here’s the problem with this argument:

It doesn’t need to be made.

In the introduction, the author asks: Why are we sometimes reinventing the obvious?

And then proceeds to fall into this same trap.

Architecture curriculums already make use of case studies. I know, for example, when I taught an integrated design/technology studio, we made great use of them.

They are not only, as the author argues, a practical tool for documenting complicated building projects, finding solutions to technical problems and expanding a firm’s expertise.

They are also excellent opportunities for having architecture students work in teams and learn how to collaborate on a project team while still in school.

The complexity of building projects almost guarantees that the teams will be multidisciplinary.

An example is Aaron Greven’s course in the College of Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in the Integrated Building Delivery program, a class that focuses on integrated practices and the technology that facilitates collaboration across a broad range of building project participants, for the Masters in Integrated Building Delivery program, a post-professional program that is in its pilot phase.

While the example does not prove the rule, I have previously reviewed these case study presentations here.

And more recently, they have been reviewed here.

The book does an excellent job explaining case study research as a means to establish a knowledge base and, as importantly, develops a practical method to do so.

“Architecture is no longer considered a true discipline, based on a comprehensive knowledge base, as it was for more than 2000 years. It is clear that this situation is no longer tenable, if architecture wants to survive in the Information Age, and in a quickly changing globalized world. A key question regarding the discipline of architecture today is how we can build a store of knowledge again.” P.174

But for me, proving the case for use of case studies in architectural education is not the reason to read this book.

This point has been made before here and more importantly, here.

Perhaps it is not case studies that are needed but a knowledge management and information system that can readily access the design professional’s accumulated knowledge.

There are people out there who do just this.

But this book does provide the rationale as well as a unique approach to constructing case studies, grounded in the arguments and methodology presented in the first part of the book.

And more importantly, this book explains how we can build knowledge in our profession and industry through the use of case studies.

Eminently Tweetable

The strengths of the book overwhelm its few weaknesses.

Weaknesses first. For all of the wonderful discussion about design and creativity throughout the first part of the book, there is nary a general mention of or reference to either in the index. It is almost as though the index was created for academics who might scrutinize sources for perfunctorily academic reasons but alas, not for the general reader’s ease of use.

Likewise, many of the otherwise wonderfully rich sources cited, are from the 1970’s or earlier. The book would have benefitted the reader (but no doubt not fellow academics) by referencing more contemporary examples of the same ideas or even the cited author’s more recent work.

On the strength side, the book’s diagrams are truly spectacular and help to illustrate many of the book’s finer concepts.

Another remarkable and no doubt unintended strength of the book is it is eminently tweetable.

A book of well-composed sentences, Building Knowledge in Architecture is remarkably aphoristic, and there are literally hundreds of quotable 140 character lines that are just crying out to be tweeted on Twitter:

“Intuitive thinking and rational thinking are not opponents; they are the twin poles between which the artist structures reality.” http://amzn.to/lyhDEl

Foqué explains that in earlier craft societies, severe penalties were imposed on those members who reveal knowledge in public. P. 93

Today, we are rewarded for the same by being retweeted.

See below for how critical Twitter is to this discussion.

Read or drown

Read Building Knowledge in Architecture even if you don’t learn anything new by reading this book (you will.)

Because you will come to realize that by doing so, you will know what you know for the first time.

And that is some accomplishment. For any book.

It is absolutely critical that you read this book. Why?

Here are 3 reasons:

For all of the reasons I have stated above.

For the reason that it tells us where we have been, where we are today and where we are headed.

And for this reason:

When drowning and you are thrown a life preserver you don’t say, “no thanks, I’ve seen one of these before,” and toss your line to safety aside.

Do so and you’ll surely drown.

A strength of this author, as mentioned, is that he has one foot in academia and the other in practice, a perspective evident in nearly every sentence:

“Professional disciplines…reduce the gap between real world problems and academic research, research increasingly captured by its own agenda.” P. 25

A book such as this can go a long way starting to fill the gap between education and practice.

That the author is a published poet can be seen in the book’s nearly perfect prose – so clear that you will not need to go back and read any sentence twice.

But you will do so anyway.

Because the sentences are so well-written they’ll strike a chord in you.

And you will find yourself rereading them for the sheer wonder and pleasure.

So don’t read Building Knowledge in Architecture because it develops a general design theory, a theoretical framework and practical instrumentation to establish a knowledge base for the discipline of architecture.

Read it if you want to improve your understanding of the impact and motives on decision making so that your designs are more responsive to real needs.

Read Building Knowledge in Architecture because you are an architect, an educator or student.

Read it because books like this are why we still have books.

Read Building Knowledge in Architecture because we as a profession are adrift and this book has been thrown to us as a lifeline.

Read it because at a time when the publishing and construction industry are experiencing upheavals, it is heartening to discover a book that is as well-written and well-illustrated as it is well-constructed and physically beautiful.

The book feels good in the hand, like a book by Peter Zumthor.

When you hold it in your hand for the first time it will be as though you have done so before, as though the book is being returned to you after a long absence.

To you alone.

That is because this book has been written for you.

The book, Building Knowledge in Architecture, was recommended to me by Ryan Schultz, founder of http://www.openingdesign.com/ via Twitter

@randydeutsch Hi Randy, speaking of books… ran across this one today in the library… looks right up our alley: http://amzn.to/hX0YG2

@theoryshaw P. 78 of Building Knowledge in Architecture (Design as a rational Process: The Triangle Broken) could be your mission statement. Thanks!

Ryan, with fellow IPD maven Oscia Timschell, is launching a beta version of the new site in time for the AIA National Convention. Check it out and follow Ryan on Twitter @theoryshaw

FYI This blog was posted for readers at my other blog by a different name.

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Filed under BIM, collaboration, construction industry, craft, design professionals, education, impact, Integrated Design, Integrated Project Delivery, IPD, modeling, people, process