Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Needle and the Damage Done

I’ve seen the needle
and the damage done
A little part of it in everyone
Neil Young “Needle and the Damage Done”

Ready for today’s physics lesson?

I’ll try to keep this simple (think of it as Physics for Architects.)

Think of a weight suspended from a pivot – so it can swing freely.

Think of it swinging .

Now, on one extreme is design and on the other construction…

 The Physics of Working in BIM

Like a pendulum, what architects sometimes need is that initial push. Just a little nudge.

Who will supply it?

Where will it come from?

Who will convince the architect to move from his complacent static state?


Not so fast. BIM is not the impetus but the enabler.

BIM is not the push – but the reaction to unforeseen (except for the industry’s seers) circumstances.

But we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves in this lesson.

Bob the Architect

Recent changes in the AEC industry have displaced the architect from his position of resting equilibrium.

Let’s call this industry stalwart Bob.

Let’s subject Bob to a restoring force.

That accelerates Bob back toward the equilibrium position.

With me so far? Good. Let’s continue.

When released, the restoring force combined with the pendulum’s mass – Bob – causes it to oscillate about the equilibrium position, swinging back and forth.

Now, normally oscillating isn’t something you want to strive for.

Normally when architects oscillate it means they can’t make up their mind – while the building has not only been modeled and built but is well into its first renovation having recently received the 25 Year Award.

This isn’t that kind of oscillating.

But it is that very back and forth motion – swinging between the opposite poles of design and construction – that describes the architect’s current predicament.

DESIGN <———————————————————–> CONSTRUCTION

The time for one complete cycle, a left swing and a right swing, is called a period.

When working in BIM, depending on your focus and LOD, it can feel like your period is very, very slow.

Like, as in never.

But in reality, for every move in one direction, there’s a corresponding move in the other.

In reality (we’re getting quantum here) – the two poles don’t exist – they are one and the same. When you work in one, you’re working in the other. But we’ll get to that in a moment. (This, in journalism, is known as a teaser.)

I know. Don’t tease me bro.Here’s one cool thing: the period is independent of Bob’s mass. In other words, it doesn’t matter if Bob’s a heavy weight or a light user, if a senior member of the team or just starting out – the swing back and forth is the same.

Hanging with Bob

The word ‘pendulum’ is from the Latin pendulus, meaning ‘hanging.’

A reminder that architects will hang themselves by not making a move toward construction.

If there is a message here: Get your weight moving!

And fast. Not to one extreme OR the other: but like BIM, back and forth, back and forth. Ad nauseum. (Or is that ad infinitum?)

Ad infinitum.

But back and forth at a constant amplitude.

Because it’s all about your amplitude and mindset.

What’s so cool about the pendulum, once started, it will never stop*

*Unless it does. Subjected to friction and drag – which all architects can attest to experiencing from time to time.

The weight (Bob) keeps moving – back and forth – at a constant positive amplitude.

So what happens when Bob, a rigid body, has a bad amplitude? And is unwilling to move from his position or to change?

Bob dies.

He disappears. Nada. Ixnay. Bob no more.

No more Bob.

Do You Swing?

For many architects, their pendulum only swings in one direction – left of center – toward design.

And that is because – as most clients and contractors and consultants and courtesans know – architects are addicted to design.

Only they’ve seen the needle but not the damage done. The damage to designer’s reputation, responsibility, reliability and resulting reward.

If they’ve seen it, they’re not letting-on. Not by changing their behavior anyway.

Nor their negative amplitude.

Architects need to find a new balance – and equilibrium – between design and construction.

Not one over the other (to those who would say upon learning BIM, “If I wanted to know how to build I would have become a contractor!”) but moving, back and forth, continuously between the twin poles.

For continuing to hover only to the design side of the meter is not only impossible and unsustainable – it’s unnatural and perhaps most offensive of all to the design set, inelegant. Like a lopsided clock.

Or one even more sinister and dire.Perpetual wallflowers, architects need to crash through their real and perceived barriers. Through education and training. And working on their amplitude.

This will require crashing through the proverbial electrical and invisible wireless dog fence that separates wi-fido from swinging into the adjacent construction yard. (“Has your architect made you sick with worry? Wandering around the neighborhood, visiting all his construction buddies leaving you scared because you don’t know where he is?”) As if! Not a chance.

Designer Drugs

Many clients know that, for their architects, design is their drug of choice.

And treat them accordingly.

Owners have been known to withhold it when they want something and want to be assured of getting it.

I know of one client who would – for sport, bemusement, vindictiveness – give an architect a design assignment at 5PM on a Friday and say they needed it by 8AM on Monday and when that time rolled around they never called. The only thing rolling was the client in hysterics on the carpet.

And the architect’s tired eyes.

How did they know the architect would spend all weekend working on it, for, say, no pay?

They were once architects themselves.

Or – as clients – still are.

There are interventions for architects who need to wean themselves off the designer drug and the best 12-letter, 12-step program I know of is spelled C.O.N.S.T.R.U.C.T.I.O.N. (count ‘em.)














When you break construction down to its constituent parts architects realize it is less threatening because construction is really design’s missing twin and other half – opposite swing – of what architects do.Construction contains the very essence of what defines design – and vice versa.

To see design and construction as somehow separate has been a convenient, ill-advised and largely wrong-headed contrivance for the past half-century. A century for architects that apparently has yet to end.

Design contains construction, and construction contains design. They are both part of each other, of the pendulum swing, dependent on one another.

Lesson wrap-up: If you have the sort of pendulum in which most of the mass is concentrated in Bob, the center of oscillation is close to the center of mass, and Bob swings more freely between design and construction.

To put that another way, if the decision to move (toward BIM, toward IPD, toward the Future) comes from within – if it is an inside job – and not forced, coerced or manipulated from some outside source, Bob is more likely to continue moving.

Moving is good. It means you’re not dead yet.

And not dead yet is a good thing.

Gyration? Spinning? Dizziness?

One of the earliest known uses of a pendulum was to sway after being disturbed by the tremor of an earthquake far away. Think of recent changes – economic, political, environmental, technological – as a not too distant earthquake. These changes in the AEC industry and the profession are enough to get Bob moving into action.

Or so you would think.

An 8.8 magnitude earthquake could occur right beneath your pendulum and for some reason Bob just sits there, like nothing’s happened.

There is an explanation in physics for such inexplicably erratic behavior.

But this is a family BIM blog.

Like BIM itself, pendulums (penduli) had many uses – and also like BIM, most were not immediately utilized. Besides the low hanging fruit of determining the location of distant earthquakes, pendulums were used to locate satellites (before they were invented!), the turning of tides, as power sources for operating reciprocating saws and bellows, for pumping.

And for adorning end tables and nightstands.

But with its use for timekeeping, the world experienced something of a pendulum-mania much like the BIM-mania we’re experiencing today.The Curious Case of Collaborative Pendulums

Is it possible to take a metaphor too far?

Just watch.

Think of Integrated Design as coupled oscillators.

Fancy this. Two pendulums placed on a mantlepiece soon acquire opposing motions.

That is, the pendulums beat in unison but in the opposite direction, 180° out of phase.

Kind of like when architects and contractors were at odds years ago back when they worked in something then called the “Design-Bid-Build” delivery method.

Regardless of how the two clocks were started, observers found that they would eventually return to this state, thus making the first recorded observation – outside of an architectural partnership – of a coupled oscillator.

The cause of this weird, inexplicable behavior was that the two pendulums were affecting each other through slight motions of the supporting mantelpiece.

Which just goes to show that collaboration requires a strong foundation – built of trust, but oak will do – in order to act in unison. For more on pendulums go here.

Trust the Pendulum

Howard W. Ashcraft, Jr, a Fellow of the American College of Construction Lawyers – featured here in a recent post and mentioned here in a recent interview in the now defunct** BD+C  ‘IPD is light years ahead of traditional delivery’ – that for architects, the needle has swung too far away from responsibility.

BD+C: Do architects and engineers need to “own” their risk more often?

Ashcraft: The needle has swung too far in the direction of insulating oneself from liability and separating oneself from the other parties in the construction process. That really has not been a successful strategy. The needle needs to swing more toward accepting responsibility for the entire process and making sure that the bad events—cost overruns, failures, and the like—don’t occur.About the needle metaphor. While a meter is strictly 2D-like CAD, a 3D metaphor would be closer to the pendulum-like BIM.

Between designers/practical artists/architects on one side and contractors on the other.

In a recent blog post by the inestimable Jonathan Fields, he wrote about online marketer Wendy Piersall who said something that resonated deeply with Fields:

“She was talking about how she swings from being massively public and conversational to relative introversion. ‘Over the years,’ she said, ‘I realized I don’t have to be one or the other. I’ve learned to trust the pendulum.’”

It’s the idea that the pendulum is within you – and you have to learn to trust it – as you would yourself.

Trust that you will be able to move back and forth, as we’re discussing here, from design to construction and back.

Fields adds:

“Most of us turn away from the our internal pendulums, giving in, instead, to the pull to follow whatever action, response or expected behavioral convention is laid out by the communities we seek to thrive within.”

Turn toward your inner pendulum and we will all succeed.

**We live in tumultuous times. The needle metaphor used in this post comes from an article printed in a popular online industry journal that no longer exists. Click here for a press release about now defunct Building Design & Construction, also known as BD+C, and how it became that way. Adopting BIM and Integrated Design assures that architects will never need to issue a similar press release.

Pendulum trivia courtesy of Wikipedia.


Filed under BIM, collaboration, Integrated Design, Integrated Project Delivery, IPD, modeling, Uncategorized

Learning to Be Roughly Yourself

From the moment you meet at the big table in the big room with the big team of stakeholders and fellow professionals, you’re there for one reason and one reason alone.

You’re an expert at something.

You didn’t get to where you are because you’re “well-rounded.” You’re there because of your deep skills, because you’re good at something. That something – whether it is in BIM management or BIM coordination, building design or building detailing – I wrote about in an earlier post.

For projects that were traditionally delivered – whether in BIM or not – that was well and good.

But it is becoming increasingly apparent that being an expert at what you do isn’t going to cut it in the BIM and Integrated Design world.

Moving forward, with BIM and Integrated Design, you are still required to present your best and highest self, working from the place of your core competency, however you – or those you work with or for – define that.

But just as importantly, while working in IPD, the person who shows up to the table needs to be a little less well defined. Something or someone closer to a rough approximation of yourself.


Because there – at the table – you’ll be wearing more than one hat. You’ll have more than one title and you’ll be playing several roles. In fact, your title and role when you enter the big room become blurred.

You’ll still need to be yourself and play your part as you always have – it’s just that your margins are a little less well defined, your guard will come down.

And the hard line that formerly defined you is perforated and permeable.

You will be able to do this because for the first time you’ll be able to – completely and unconditionally – trust those you are teaming with.

In BIM and Integrated Design you have to be more than just your role.

You have to see ideas, possibilities and actions from multiple viewpoints and perspectives.

And make a concerted effort to not only couch what you say with your audience in mind – something you have been doing for ages – but consider the consequences for your line of action when it still just a line of thought in your mind.

It is a higher order of operating that is expected when you are at the big table.

The other day at a BIM-IPD/RUG meeting, I listened as several design professionals discussed their concerns about where the profession and industry is headed – while each spoke from their own perspective.

That may be well and fine for CAD. But with BIM and Integrated Design there is a constant need to keep others in mind as one speaks. With one ear focused on what you are saying and another on the meta message – the message heard by others at the table, and what that message might mean for them, and why it is they are sitting there silent at the table, not participating. Perhaps they are bored. Or frightened or even threatened by what they are hearing. Or perhaps something is stewing inside that at any moment might bottle up and explode.

Whether you are working with an IPD Facilitator or not – and until that day comes – it is up to each of us to develop this ability – to facilitate ourselves – in ourselves.

And we are completely capable of handling this. While the brain is hard at work putting our ideas out there, or thinking up the next thing to say, the mind is aware – on another level – of the potential impact – positive, negative or indifferent – this will have on those seated around you.

One eye focused on the BIM model while the other is on the reactions of those seated around  the table – who together have the will and power to make your suggestion a reality.

You do this by thinking about your concerns from others’ perspectives – potential clashes before they even occur in Navisworks, when they’re still in your mind

Think of it as the virtual conversation you have before it is acted upon, becoming real. You’re having a VDC – Virtual Design Conversation.

To adjust our communication style to that of the group, you first need to assess and know your own. If unsure or what to re-assess, here’s a good place to start.

My wife used to work at a company where employees walked around with coffee mugs that announced their communication style and language preferences to each other – so that, with your coffee, you could adjust your speech to whoever you ran into in the kitchen or in the hall.

I myself am an expressive. If I just talk – without adjusting what I say to my audience of 1 or 20 financial types don’t know what to do with me. To negotiate, to sell my design ideas, I have to talk in their terms.

Is this disingenuous? No, nor dishonest. It is about communicating – what you need to do – to talk, to think, in other’s terms. We do this all the time with those we  are closest with – and professionally with clients and owners.

Phil Bernstein – in a recent AIA podcast with Markuu Allison – spoke of the need for those at the table in IPD to be roughly an architect, roughly a contractor, and so on.

It is about architects developing their inner contractors and contractors developing their inner architects.

It  is also about letting-go – of our self-limiting titles and roles.

Be who you are – yes.

Maintain your expertise – certainly.

But be open to others.

Architects in particular are used to playing many roles – or at least thinking like others – from the start of projects onward.

As a senior designer – in the go/no-go early phase of projects before the fee could support a full team – I would often have to play project designer, project architect and project manager until the project was given the green light.

In BIM and Integrated Design, it is almost as though you have to embody the characteristics of each of those at the table. And the list, in Integrated Design teams, can be considerable. Start with the core team of owner, contractor and architect – and move out from there.

In a recent LinkedIn discussion at the knowledge architecture/knowledge management KA Connect group for the AEC industry (which I highly recommend you join,) group and KA Connect founder Christopher Parsons suggested that

You’ll meet three types of people in a knowledge-driven firm – writers, librarians, and teachers. Writers create. Librarians capture. Teachers share. The teaching part, the commitment to systematically sharing, is what’s missing. We are two-thirds of the way there. We just need to finish the job. “Go the distance.” 

While this may be true for the way things have been done in firms up until now, with BIM and Integrated Design teams there’s no time at the table to be “just” a librarian, “just” a writer or “just” a teacher. You have to nurture the development of all three within yourself.

Perhaps James L. Salmon of Collaborative Construction (another LinkedIn group you ought to be a part of if you aren’t already) said it best when he said you achieve IPD in 3D by leveraging existing skills on a cross disciplinary basis.

How you learn to do this – cross-pollinate cross-discipline – is just starting to become apparent in the AEC industry. What we do know, though, is that it is becoming increasingly clear that this is a skill, an ability and talent we cannot survive without. Learning to be roughly ourselves – we must.


Filed under BIM, BIM expert, collaboration, construction industry, design professionals, Integrated Design, Integrated Project Delivery, IPD, people, Uncategorized

BIM’s Evolving Double Standard of Care

Holly Hunter: You totally crossed the line with that piece….

William Hurt: It’s hard not to cross the line when they keep moving the little sucker, don’t they!?

Broadcast News, 1987

Here’s a conversation I overheard the other day between a guy and girl on the inbound platform while awaiting a train, late due to mechanical malfunction.

SHE: Well, I have higher standards of care that you’re expected to follow.

HE: Define your terms.

SHE: Simply put, what I expect of you. What others expect of you based on your supposed intentions.

HE: I don’t get it.

SHE: It’s the degree of care required of guys like you who are recognized by others as being serious about their intentions and purpose. It’s the degree of caution that a reasonable guy would exercise in a similar situation so as to avoid screwing up.

HE: So why do you call it a double standard of care?

SHE: Because you want to boast of your capabilities but not to the point where you actually take responsibility for what you produce in terms of its ultimate result. You guys are all alike – you want to have it both ways. That’s your double standard of care.

HE: Why do you think we act this way? Because we can’t commit, right?

SHE: You guys claim you’re not benefitting any more to do what’s required to meet our higher expectations.

HE: So why do you say it’s evolving?

SHE: Evolving, moving. Whatever.

HE: Moving? Where’s it moving?

SHE: Where it’s headed – we’re only just now starting to get hints of. That it is moving is a foregone conclusion. We used to let you guys get away with having your cake and eating it too. What’s that line you used to use – Why buy the cow when you can milk it? Well, no more, bucko. Now – if you want to dance – you have to come to the wedding. (Train pulls in.)

This got me thinking about a talk design professionals need to have with their contractors and with their clients.

What’s in it for me?

Architects are by nature – or choice – risk averse. They operate in pencils, not bricks. Owners and Contractors don’t much like risk either and make it their goal by day’s end to make sure risk is doled out, wherever possible, evenly amongst others.

Most by now recognize that there are benefits and there are benefits. While the technological, business and social/cultural benefits of Building Information Modeling (BIM) are legion – and most of these benefits are seen by Owners and Contractors – design professionals are also seeing their fair share.

Some benefits are well-known by now:

  • Design visualization, analyze and visualize project digitally before it is constructed
  • Increased coordination with clash detection, resulting in fewer RFIs and change orders
  • By starting earlier in the process, everyone at the table day one, design input occurs earlier in process
  • Improved cost control
  • More integrated buildings

Other benefits are perhaps less top-of-mind because they’re the result of social impacts brought about by BIM and the collaborative work-process enabled by it. In my forthcoming book, BIM + Integrated Design (Wiley, 2011,) I call these co-benefits because they are indirect social results of the more familiar technical and business benefits. To name but a few:

  • Recent graduates work alongside experienced designers and train them, resulting in emerging professionals just starting out learning how buildings come together earlier in career
  • These emerging professionals as BIM operators are the canaries in the coal mine, learning of clashes, conflicts and unintended design results before anyone else
  • The mutual training and informing between the two results in mentoring up and down

Other related benefits include

  • Increased productivity, cut man-hours and manpower by reducing team size
  • Takes less time overall, resulting in more time to design and compressed construction
  • More assured decisions provide basis for more accurate fabrication

BIM’s most important benefit

One major benefit to design professionals – acknowledged and recognized but not often mentioned by design professionals – is that by working in BIM, design professionals are able to stay in the game.

By working in BIM design professionals are able to stay design professionals and not, say, consultants to contractors.

So they work in BIM. Design professionals, to garner new business, are promoting their BIM experience and expertise. As well they should. And yet this is where the double standard comes in.

BIM and its own evolving double standard

Where the standard of care (SOC) is moving will be determined in large part to precedents that are set in court. Case in point: Laura Handler’s excellent reporting earlier this year in her BIMx blog on the first batch of BIM Claims presented at a recent BIMforum session. We now know the general direction that the SOC is moving – toward greater expectations on the part of the architect.

BIMSOC –Building Information Modeling Standard of Care


BIM2SOC – Building Information Modeling Double Standard of Care.

Design professionals, take heed. Along with the boasting of BIM capability as a competitive differentiator come the double entendre of BIM responsibility.

Because with the responsibility come some other things design professionals don’t want: exposure, added risk and liability.

But also this: their having to come up with the value proposition – and subsequent conversation with their clients concerning the additional work required – to build virtual models to this new standard.

A crucial conversation

So here’s the crux. BIM’s Double Standard of Care isn’t so much a legal, liability or even responsibility issue as one of communication. Design professionals need to have a conversation with their clients about getting remediated

  • to hire the staff capable of meeting this higher standard,
  • to properly train to meet this higher standard, and
  • to produce virtual models to this higher standard.

As implied in the reporting on BIM Claims presented at BIMforum, had the designers been adequately compensated they would have attempted to meet the higher standard.

Because the designers balked – when the contractor requested that they verify their work – due to not being compensated to do so, it apparently became a question of motivation.

In the past, conversations of this sort went something like this:

Design professional tells owner that the contractor expects a higher level of detail in the model than the architect is used to providing. The owner says they always expected that level of detail, thought that that was what they were getting in the past and if they weren’t getting it, why not?


In the future, if design professionals are to survive, this crucial conversation must start with the contractor – early on in the process – about their expectations and needs for the virtual model.

For the crucial conversation with the owner to have a different result, the design professional has two choices: They can have this conversation on their own (see checkmate above) or moderated, in the venue of marriage counseling – with the attendant referee and rule book.

In other words, in the Integrated Design process.

This is why Integrated Design is so important: because it creates a structure whereby these conversations will happen, when they ought to happen – early and often – where everybody is in the same room at the same time from an early date hammering out these issues.

Whatever life holds in store for me, I will never forget these words: “With great power comes great responsibility.” This is my gift, my curse.

BIM is the marriage of conceptualization with construction. The stitching together of creating and constructing Joshua Prince-Ramus alluded to a previous post.

BIM requires one to be more – and think more – like an architect and a contractor.

No more Architects are from Venus and Contractors are from Mars.

No more You Just Don’t Understand with architects wanting one thing and contractors another.

No more misunderstandings between the players arising because architects like to connect emotionally through design while contractors prefer to impart construction knowledge. Like the sexes, contractors and architects are essentially products of different cultures, possessing different – but equally valid – communication styles.

Design professionals and contractors essentially want the same thing. It’s how they get to these results – and the roles that they play, not the amount of responsibility each is willing to cover– that differ. Neither want to be ultimately responsible and so, in lieu of passing the responsibility – and along with it the liability – around, they agree to share it, mutually.

BIM is the great equalizer and Integrated Design the safe haven where working together collaboratively – if it is ever going to happen – is most likely to happen.

Integrated Design’s the right place for this marriage. I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.

BIM. This is our gift, our curse. Let’s own it.


Filed under BIM, collaboration, design professionals, education, Integrated Design, Integrated Project Delivery, IPD, people, process, Uncategorized

The Way Out is the Way Through

Happy architects are all alike; every unhappy architect is unhappy in his own way.

–          with apologies to Leo Tolstoy and Anna Karenina

Architects complain that contractors and owners are positioned to benefit from utilizing Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) but that architects are not.

It is clear that owners and contractors benefit from BIM and IPD. That there are fewer RFIs because the technology detects clashes before they occur in the field alone should be reason enough to convince owners and contractors that it is to their benefit to work collaboratively in BIM. But there is more – cost estimating done in advance, value engineering on the fly – the list of benefits seems to get longer every day. So who wins?

The owner wins. And to a lesser extent the contractor wins as well.

What about the architect?

No so much.

Architects complain that they have to do a lot more work up front, often hourly at-cost – and do work that they normally would do later in the process, and get generously compensated for.

So what are architects in it for? What do architects hope to gain by going down the BIM and IPD path?

Who benefits?

We were warned at the outset that none of us would get rich (nor become Frank Lloyd Wright.)

We went into architecture originally to be professionals – and somewhere along the way we were wooed by the prospect of making money. Yes, we need to survive and not be victimized, take-on needless responsibility and risk without opportunity for reward or recompense.

But the truth is if we work hard and do a good job it will be recognized – perhaps not on this project but the next.

We are motivated to do a good job – not by extrinsic rewards but rather by the promise of rewards more intrinsic.

But then the money’s doled out and we cry foul: the contractor and owner see all the benefit.

First we must realize that this is not true. We always did more work than we were compensated for. Today, with BIM, LEED and IPD, is no exception.

To empower ourselves – right now, at this moment in time – we need to do the work, earlier in the process, upfront, and yes maybe more of it than we’d like.

What’s the value proposition? We ask, despite the fact that if we were honest with ourselves we’d have to admit that the words – “value proposition” – weren’t even in our vocabulary a few years ago.

The value – and benefit – will come. It will come when

1. We first value ourselves and our own contribution and our own people. If you don’t value yourself and your people how can you expect others to?

2. Do the hard necessary work. Communicate with the contractor – what is needed for their model to be worthy, useful? Talk to your attorney and insurer – identify where they are willing to give a bit – and take it.

3. Be the ultimate professional you are capable of being. Be fun to work with – yes, fun. Be someone others want to work with. They will come to you again as much for the experience as for the sheer joy you create in others.

4. Identify the things you can leverage – your permitting ability, your political connections or clout, your experience and insights.

So for now, you may not get rich like the contractor or like the owner, but…do it anyway.

“80 percent of success is just showing up” — Woody Allen

Do it anyway? That’s right.

But what’s in it for us architects?

1. You’ll stay in the game.

2. You’ll be the first others think of when things pick up.

3. You’ll gain valuable experience working with BIM and related technologies and the collaborative work processes enabled by them.

4. Perhaps most of all, you’ll be perceived as being easy to work with.

So in the meantime – no matter the answer – do it anyway.

While the answer is being worked out – you’ll be at the game, at the show. It will go a long way to prove yourself a team player. And that in itself, in this economy, in these crazy times, is something, not nothing.

That you’re in it for more than obvious financial gain will become apparent to all and appreciated by a few.

For now, for the time being, do it anyway.

Balky Architects

But they won’t praise us.

Do it anyway

The extra effort won’t be appreciated.

Do it anyway

It’ll just give us additional exposure we don’t need.

Do it anyway

It’s not our responsibility.

Do it anyway

They say they’ll just use another firm if we balk.

Do it anyway

They say we won’t get any more money because we should have been doing this all along.

Do it anyway

The Way Out for Architects is the Way Through

As much as you might like to, you just can’t avoid it. You can’t resist it. No, you can’t sit this dance out. You have to go through with it. You have to play to win. And if you play nicely, with a good attitude and a positive mindset from the outset – all the better.

The way out is the way through. There is no other way.

Not around. Not under. Not by standing still until 9you hope) it goes away.

There are no workarounds for architects in the Game of BIM, LEED and IPD.

You have to show to play. And you have to play to win.

Being obstinate won’t work. Blocking, playing hard to get, holding back, balking, withdrawing, thwarting, resisting or retreating – none of this behavior will work. There is only one thing that will work right now, today.

Give Unconditional Architecture

Author Kent M. Keith was a Harvard student in the 60s when he first wrote “The Paradoxical Commandments,” a manifesto about doing good in a crazy, ungrateful world. These commandments have been quoted by the Boy Scouts of America and discovered in Mother Teresa’s children’s home in Calcutta. They’ve taken on a life of their own and are the basis of his repackaged and expanded book Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments: Finding Personal Meaning in a Crazy World available for a penny, .01 cent, here.

What architects need most to do is to do the right thing.

Architects need to do good, right now, in a crazy, ungrateful world.

The Architect’s Paradoxical Commandments

1. People you work with and for are illogical, unreasonable and self-centered.

Serve them anyway.

2. If you do good, contractors will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.

Do good anyway.

3. If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.

Succeed anyway.

4. The good you did yesterday will be resented today and forgotten tomorrow.

Do good anyway.

5. Honesty and frankness make you appear weak and vulnerable.

Be honest and frank anyway.

6. The biggest architects with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest clients with the smallest minds.

Think big anyway.

7. People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.

Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

8. What you spend years building may be shelved or even destroyed overnight.

Design and build anyway.

9. The public and users really need help but may attack you if you try to help them.

Help them anyway.

10. Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.

Give the world the best you have anyway.

– with apologies to Kent M. Keith

Until there is a clear advantage for architects – Do It Anyway

I was talking with a colleague the other day – she has been looking for work for some time and said that the basic attitude out there in the job-hunt warzone is:

“No BIM, no LEED, no interview”

Imagine a sign on the office door that reads:



No interview

You may not have a shirt on your back – and your shoes may be in ill-repair – but you can have these. BIM , LEED and IPD – or BIM and Integrated Design, for short.

You know the sign that reads: No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service?”

BIM is the shirt on our backs.

LEED and IPD each of our shoes.

We’re not too far off from being turned away from RFQs and RFPs and, yes, from interviews:



No interview

There are a lot of reasons to learn BIM. And a lot of reasons to study and take the LEED exam.

Not fall behind, to remain competitive, to stay sharp, to help our clients achieve their goals,to help make the world a better place for all (need I continue?)

I have in my time been accused of being an architect. And, by association, idealistic.

I suggested the other day to a colleague in my network that there was a dollar amount above which was unnecessary for me to make to be satisfied, fulfilled and happy. And that person called me an idealistic architect.

And in doing so he was being redundant. Idealistic defined here as foolhardy, unrealistic and lacking any business sense.

And architect?

Doesn’t pay what I’m worth? I don’t care – I do it anyway.

There are lots of reasons NOT to do these things

No time

No money

No motivation



Too many people out there competing for the same positions

There are no jobs…

All excuses

No time?

Do it anyway

No money?

Do it anyway

No motivation?

Do it anyway (the most important writing advice I have ever been given? 3 words: Butt in seat)

Feel helpless? You are not your feelings. The feeling will pass.

Do it anyway

What’s the point?

Do it anyway

Too many people out there competing for the same positions.

Do it anyway

There are no jobs!

Do it anyway

You get the point…Do it anyway


Filed under BIM, BIM employment, BIM jobs, collaboration, design professionals, Integrated Project Delivery, IPD, people, Uncategorized

The Sweet Necessity of a BIM-IPD Group Meeting

David Ivey’s Chicago BIM-IPD Group meets every last Thursday of the month at HOK’s beautiful offices in Chicago’s Loop. Other cities have BIM-IPD groups: NYC, Seattle, San Francisco among a dozen others. But there’s something happening here on the 14th floor in the main conference room on these nights that can only be described as necessary and magical.

That’s not to say one city’s group is better than another. In the spirit of Integrated Design there is in fact a great deal of sharing of knowledge and information between the groups. Sometimes a member from one city’s group will show up at another and present what their group is up to. Case in point: Chicago’s group recently hosted special guest, Christopher Parsons, founder of Knowledge Architecture ( and the San Francisco BIM Users Group.

The typical meeting has presentations, surveys, discussions, Q and A sessions in the light and expansive conference room pictured here – it’s hard not to be inspired. And the 90 minutes fly by fast. Best of all, for an hour and a half each month, you are made to feel quintessentially relevant and in-the-know.

Headed-up by HOK’s David Ivey – an Associate and CAD and BIM Manager at HOK since 2005, a regular speaker at McGraw-Hill’s BIM and IPD panels and a leader in the ACE Mentor Program of America – Dave does a magnificent job of organizing and running these meetings. Dave’s a true firm leader-in-the-making and an inspiration to all who attend. He is completely onboard when it comes to sharing non-proprietary information with the group – much in keeping with HOK’s reputation for sharing, collaboration and transparency. It is almost impossible to attend one of his meetings and not walk away feeling smarter, more self-assured and excited to be part of a happening movement. As importantly, given that the Midwest – in comparison with the coasts – is somewhat of a latecomer to BIM and IPD, these meetings help assure that Chicago has in time caught up with his big city brethren.

Chicago BIM-IPD Group is a diverse gathering – Crate and Barrel’s John Moebes and University clients have attended, Kristine Fallon and Michael Bordenaro are regulars – made up of contractors, engineers, architects, IT specialists, firm owners, authors, trainers, educators, software resellers and consultants.

Last night, Mark Anderson, the enterprising, energetic and entertaining VP of IT for Environmental Systems Design – one of Chicago’s largest and consistently most innovative MEP consultants – spoke about ESD’s inroads into BIM. Here are some highlights from his talk:

  • As it is best to start off with a pilot project, their first real Revit job happened to be the 3 million SF Masdar City, the world’s first carbon-neutral zero waste city, with Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill.
  • Finding that creating custom content takes a great deal of effort and time, they purchased an entire library of content – 3000 Revit fully parametric families in all to go along with their custom models
  • Mark was quoted as saying: “We’re making content like crazy,” with 2-3 people devoted to it at all times.
  • One key take-away from Mark’s talk is this: some design professionals complain that MEP consultants have dragged their feet when it comes to adopting and implementing BIM and the collaborative work processes enabled by it. Not the case at all, according to ESD. The software has lagged for engineers – behind architecture, structural and civil – and only of late has caught up. Not that that stopped them from taking-on the challenge and doing the hard work of change involved – though only recently has it allowed them to excel at it.
  • Of 220 current employees, 60 are trained in Revit and of those perhaps 20 could be put on a project today with the full assurance that they could run with it from go. And that number is growing.
  • Mark played a 3D animation of a BIM model ESD had created for Chicago’s Dirksen Building. Set to music, upon completion the movie set off a round of applause.
  • An IIT student who works in the firm discovered that Navisworks has many of the same visualization features as 3D Studio Max – and so suggested that they use Navisworks not only for coordination but for visualization and animation.
  • Not quite yet direct to fabrication, it became apparent, with one eye on future opportunity, growth and positioning,  that ESD has several in-house special task forces dedicated to taking the technology – and work processes – to the next level.
  • Mark played an informative commercial film, featuring Mark and his team, created by HP to play-up ESD’s use of their equipment.

The presentation was followed by a lively Q&A, one earnest inquiry after the other, each attendee hanging on every last word, trying to work out for herself this still mysterious process. How are we going to make it work? How are we going to make money at this? How do we best position ourselves for the future? What determines when a job is going to be a Revit job?

Perhaps it was just the thought of freezing wind and freshly falling snow that kept everyone in their seats well past 7PM on this cold winter night as Mark fielded question after question. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it was instead because everyone sensed something quite magical and new was happening in this seminal and well-lit conference room above Chicago’s Loop. That, perhaps, we were really onto something here.


Filed under BIM, BIM organizations, collaboration, Integrated Design, IPD, modeling, process, Uncategorized

BIM as though People Mattered

If you want to foster creativity and excellence, you have to introduce some boundaries. Teams need some privacy from one another to develop unique approaches to any kind of competition. Scientists need some time in private before publication to get their results in order. Making everything open all the time creates what I call a global mush. Jaron Lanier You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto


This post will introduce you to a book that will change society and alter the future.

But first, some back story.

The other night I was parked outside a bike shop near my home whose storefront window read: Body Machine Integration (BMI)

Being at one with their vehicle clearly appealed to the somnambulist bicyclists inside.

Sometimes Building Information Modeling (BIM) has us feeling like Bodily Integrated Machines (BIM).

After a long day modeling it is easy to feel like we have to call someone over to our workstation to pry us away from our machines.

We now work and live in environments where the line between you and your screen is becoming thinner and thinner.

Promotional materials for BIM products suggests that they “think like an architect” but all too often you discover that you have to think like your software.

This is old stuff for those that have worked in CAD – who, after a long day at work, would fall asleep at night only to dream that they were inserted in a CAD drawing.

Thinking in abbreviated commands and talking in macros.

MIT’s William J. Mitchell has long warned – or promised, depending on your outlook –  about our evolving into cyborgs.

But that’s not the book, nor the author, that will make a sign post of 2010.

Voodoo Architecture

So I naturally googled Body Machine Integration for architects and came up with…Archibots? Archibots are the latest thing in the emerging area of “Architectural Robotics” – intelligent and adaptable physical environments at all scales.

It is somewhat comforting to know that this is about robotic technologies embedded in the built environment – not people. 

Soon you’ll have the opportunity to hire one of these to do your drafting – or better yet, input information into your BIM.

Archibots: a workshop on intelligent and adaptable built environments was held last Fall by students at Clemson U.

The second fragment of this stop-motion video from the event – from a collection of stop-motion vision videos created by participants in the Archibots workshop – indicates the possibility of modifying an as-built BIM model has the parallel effect on the actual built building the model represents. Almost like a voodoo doll.

Voodoo architecture where you modify the model and the building changes.

My office is missing! Who left the model unlocked again?!

Imagine where you drag-and-drop materials and textures off of your laptop screen onto adjacent surfaces.

And they become those surfaces.

Where the line between you and your screen disappears, the two become indistinguishable.

It gets you thinking about where things are going (holograms, artificial intelligence, singularity, according to designintelligence.)

One day, everyday robotics embedded in our built environment will increasingly support and augment work, school, entertainment, leisure activities – as well as the construction industry – in an increasingly digital society.

You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto

Which brings us to Jaron Lanier, the 1980s Silicon Valley dreadlocked visionary who coined the term virtual reality and was among the first to predict the revolutionary changes the internet would bring to the worlds commerce and culture, and has now written a long-awaited book: You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto, an editor’s selection Best Book of the Month.

You Are Not a Gadget is being called “a useful, respectful dialogue about how we can shape technology to fit culture’s needs, rather than the way technology currently shapes us.”

It is also being called a “most thought-provoking, human, and inspiring critique of the computerized world of information that has yet been written.”

In the book, Lanier discusses the technical and cultural problems that can grow out of poorly considered digital design, and cautions against the current Web 2.0 fad which elevates the wisdom of the hive mind over the intelligence and judgment of individuals.

In You Are Not a Gadget, Lanier argues that the idea of collective is smarter than the individual is wrong. Why is this?

Here’s Jaron Lanier on Collaboration: There are some cases where a group of people can do a better job of solving certain kinds of problems than individuals. One example is setting a price in a marketplace. Another example is an election process to choose a politician. All such examples involve what can be called optimization, where the concerns of many individuals are reconciled. There are other cases that involve creativity and imagination. A crowd process generally fails in these cases. The phrase “Design by Committee” is treated as derogatory for good reason. That is why a collective of programmers can copy UNIX but cannot invent the iPhone.

Biological cells have walls, academics employ temporary secrecy before they publish, and real authors with real voices might want to polish a text before releasing it. In all these cases, encapsulation is what allows for the possibility of testing and feedback that enables a quest for excellence. To be constantly diffused in a global mush is to embrace mundanity.

Here’s Jaron Lanier on Intellectual Content: On one level, the Internet has become anti-intellectual because Web 2.0 collectivism has killed the individual voice. It is increasingly disheartening to write about any topic in depth these days, because people will only read what the first link from a search engine directs them to…Or, if the issue is contentious, people will congregate into partisan online bubbles in which their views are reinforced. I don’t think a collective voice can be effective for many topics, such as history–and neither can a partisan mob. Collectives have a power to distort history in a way that damages minority viewpoints and calcifies the art of interpretation. Only the quirkiness of considered individual expression can cut through the nonsense of mob–and that is the reason intellectual activity is important.

A must read.

BIM as though people mattered

Here are 10 things you can do to keep the body-machine integration at bay – and help you to remain you human and keep your feelings alive – while building information models:

  • Spend time in nature
  • Sit in front of a favorite painting at the museum over lunch
  • Read a poem
  • Keep your passion for architecture alive by revisiting the work you love & admire
  • Or get a daily dose of architecture here
  • Know yourself, your preferences, by cutting out things that appeal to you at a visceral level (no thinking required) and by keeping a file of these images
  • Keep a list of the things you know for certain that you like, love, enamor and return to it often for sustenance
  • Read The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America
  • Keep your passion for work alive by remaining awake at work
  • Listen to your favorite music every day (you know where to find it)
  • Watch The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, A Single Man or another film directed by a visual artist

What are some of the things you recommend doing to keep it real and stay human in the face of the technological forces at work?

Leave a comment

Filed under BIM, collaboration, Integrated Design, modeling, people, Uncategorized

77 Things You Can Do Right Now to Help Make Integrated Design a Reality

This time of year, when many find themselves indoors, is a great time to catch up – and even get ahead of the pack – on several neglected fronts. Here are my top 77 suggestions for getting ahead in Integrated Design. All pretested, these promise to be a good investment of your time. Best of all, many of the suggestions in this list can be read or watched or even had for free or for very little cost. The 77 things you can do right now to help make Integrated Design a reality will not only benefit the design profession and construction industry, but by helping to move the field forward you may also find that you have helped yourself along the way.

Do you have other links to favorite sources you would like to share?

1. Listen in on a free conference call with Stephen M. R. Covey on the subject of trust

2. Or read the book that the call is based on, The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything, with one eye on how practicing mutual trust makes Integrated Design possible.

3. Still not convinced that increasing trust is the answer? Check out this video or listen to this summary of the book

4. Pick up a copy and read George Elvin’s Integrated Practice in Architecture: Mastering Design-Build, Fast-Track, and Building Information Modeling The world’s only book dedicated to this subject.

5. Read Creating with Others: The Practice of Imagination in Life, Art and the Workplace by Shaun McNiff where a master teacher provides important lessons on how to create together in a collaborative environment.

6. Share some info with someone you don’t normally trust or work with right now and see the results – if it negatively affects you or your firm (you might be surprised by the results)

7. Make it an effort to say “we” instead of “I” for an entire day. Get inspired by taking a look at The Power of We

8. Share AIA’s document on IPD with another practitioner and discuss its strengths and weaknesses.

9. Had a hunch that you could learn a thing or two about collaboration from understanding the secrets of improvisational theater? You were right and they’re all here in Keith Sawyer’s breathtaking Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration, 60% off at Amazon

10. Or read it for free here

11. Read an interview with author Keith Sawyer, professor of psychology and education at Washington University in St. Louis, is one of the country’s leading scientific experts on collaboration, here

12. Start a IPD discussion group, select a resource to start with and begin a discussion.

13. Download the AIA IPD Guide here

14. Better yet, enjoy AIA’s veritable cornucopia of Integrated Design features, programs, initiatives here

15. Read How to Make Collaboration Work; Powerful Ways to Build Consensus, Solve problems and Make  Decisions  Read it here for free.

16. Click here for Experiences in collaboration: On the Path to IPD

17. Or here to download the PowerPoint: Lessons Learned from Applied Integrated Project Delivery – presented at the AIA Convention  

18. Share the AIA document site with 10 others

19. The Integrative Design Guide to Green Building: Redefining the Practice of Sustainability by 7group, Bill Reed, Order it here or here but whatever you do, order it.

20. While you’re at it, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen or heard 7group’s John Boecker speak on the subject of Integrated Design.

21. Bill Reed’s also pretty inspiring, too. Check out some of his papers

22. Read the DesignIntelligence Thom Mayne Morphosis case study on being a design principal on an IPD team

23. Click here for a short (4 min.) video about IPD

24. Put down your current book and pick up Mastering the Art of Creative Collaboration by Robert Hargrove a copy of which can be yours here for 33 cents! Or get a summary here.

25. Think about why you originally went into your field and whether persuing Integrated Design will allow you to do what you originally wanted to do

26. Turn your firm into a collaboration factory. See how other fields are accomplishing it in The Culture of Collaboration: Maximizing time, talent and tools to create value in the global economy by Evan Rosen.

27. Look here to read Integrated Project Delivery and BIM: Changing the Way the Industry Operates

28. Visit and explore Evan Rosen’s blog  on Collaboration, Sharing Information and Trust.

29. Practice self-sacrifice while reading fiction. Mark Helprin’s short story collection, The Pacific and Other Stories, contains an incisive story entitled “Monday,” an honorable contractor willing to sacrifice other contracts and his own reputation to renovate the home of a woman whose husband was killed on September 11 learns “the power of those who had done right.” Read it.

30. Look for an opportunity to hear Choreographer Twyla Tharp discuss The Collaborative Habit at a theater near you.

31. Still not convinced collaboration works? Niether is Berkeley professor and author Morten T. Hansen in Harvard Business review book Collaboration: How leaders avoid the traps, create unity and reap big results. Read it for free here but after reading Good to Great author Jim Collin’s insightful foreword you’re going to want to buy  a copy for yourself and those you work with.

32. Still not convinced collaboration within your firm always a good thing? Watch this video

33. Cant afford the somewhat steep membership cost to join the Design Futures Council? Worry not. Spend a free afternoon perusing articles at Do a search on any of the following topics and marvel at the wealth of brilliance that can be found here: Best Practices, Client Relationships, Communications, Design/Build Project Delivery, Intelligent Choices, Leadership, Strategy, Technology, Trends and MANY others.

34. Check out this PowerPoint presentation: IPD It’s not your father’s architectural practice

35. Watch IPD wunderkind John Moebes in action speaking on the benefits on Integrated Design or check out this presentation by him.

36. Or this article about what John Moebes has to say about IPD.

37. Call a colleague that has worked in IPD and ask to lunch – discuss their experience

38. Take a look at architect Scott Simpson’s immortal blog post entitled Let’s Believe in Our Own Future. As Design Futures Council founder Jim Cramer writes in the comments, “Scott, you nailed it.”

39. Make a promise in 2010 to attend a 2- or 4-hour Culture of Collaboration workshop when it comes to town and learn 17 Ways to Move from Competing to Cooperating in Your Organization

40. Compare and contrast the AIA’s various IPD documents

41. Then compare them with ConsensusDOCS

42. Or compare the two here

43. In fact, check out President of Collaborative Construction Resources James Salmon’s blog for great insights into all thing related to Integrated Design

44. Soak-up the great stories in choreographer Twyla Tharp’s latest bestseller, The Collaborative Habit: Life Lessons for Working Together. The book is short – you could down it in an hour – but the anecdotes, quotes and lessons will live long with you and bear repeating.

45. While you’re at it, reread Tharp’s inspiring and peerless The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life

46. Visit the from time to time for inspiration and insight into integrated design trends and best practices.

47. I recently interviewed architect Paul Durand of Winter Street Architects for my forthcoming book, BIM and Integrated Design: Strategies for Practice (Wiley, 2011) after reading Paul’s inspiring article about his firm’s adjustments to and eventual mastery of the technology and work processes involved with Integrated Design.

48. In fact, BIM and IPD have their very own blog

49. Watch this Harvard Business Review video of an interview with Daniel Goleman, Psychologist. See how you can use emotional and social intelligence to improve your own and your organization’s performance

50. Find a question or problem that you have been noodling on and share it with your network by posting it on a LinkedIn group discussion.

51. Calibrate your progress: If you haven’t in a while, revisit your threadbare copy of Finith Jernigan’s BIG BIM little bim – The practical approach to Building Information Modeling – Integrated practice done the right way! The book that started it all.

52. Assess yourself in this video from the bestselling author of EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE and SOCIAL INTELLIGENCE author Daniel Goleman on how socially intelligent you are.

53. Dust off your copy of The Wisdom of Teams and see how much you’ve learned from it and have integrated into your own practice

54. Listen to Cisco CEO John Chambers explain how abandoning command-and-control leadership has enabled his company to innovate more quickly, using collaboration and teamwork.

55. Connect with other Integrated Design cohorts on LinkedIn

56. Reread Working with Emotional Intelligence – this time with an eye on IPD. Don’t have it? Read the first chapter here.

57. Ask a contractor to lunch or for an after work drink – discuss their observations and insights about the architecture profession – they’ll appreciate it (Recommendation: stay on their turf, take them to Carmichaels or another contractor hang out)

58. Reread your copy of Broken Buildings, Busted Budgets: How to Fix America’s Trillion-Dollar Construction Industry from the viewpoint of how integrated design promises to fix what ails the AEC industry.                                                                                         

59. Read an interview with Barry LePatner on the promise of integrated design in the construction industry in the article, “Unreconstructed,” by Zach Patton published in Governing magazine

60. MacArthur Fellow, New Yorker staff writer and acclaimed surgeon Atul Gawande’s fascinating new book, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, has a chapter entitled The End of the Master Builder where he argues that Integrated Design is the one way the construction industry will contend with ever-increasing complexities. Read it. Amazon has it on sale for 65% off.

61. Still too expensive? You can watch a presentation Atul Gawande gave at the New Yorker Festival this past October. His talk was entitled Death of the Master Builder

62. And even read post about Atul Gawande’s presentation at The New Yorker blog.

63. Already mastered Integrtaed Design and all it entails? See Beyond IPD: The Integrated Enterprise Challenge

64. Wondering how to market IPD for your firm? See this this or better yet this

65. Overlook the misleading title, pour yourself a cup or glass and dig into Bauman Lyons Architects highly entertaining and enlightening book on integrated design practices and outcomes, How to Be a Happy Architect

66. Or watch this video of integrated design architect Irena Bauman [of How to be a happy architect fame] taking the Guardian editor, Martin Wainwright, for a stroll around Leeds.

67. Learn ways how you can become an ENFP (you might have an easier time in IPD)

68. Read, really read, Thom Mayne’s penetrating and quite scary warning to the tribe, Change or Perish

69. Or even better, visit the AIA’s incredibly rich and rewarding site featuring this essay as well as Thom Mayne’s 2009 follow-up amongst many others: 2009 and Beyond | Revisiting the Report on Integrated Practice

70. Still skeptical? Do a comparison of IPD and other delivery methods D+B, DBB, etc – list pros and cons and to see how IPD holds up

71. Be the change you want to see – do a presentation for your firm on IPD – or organize one with outside speakers, if only to start a discussion

72. Invite a contractor into your office to speak about their experiences working in IPD, BIM, architects…

73. You still feel like IPD is just a renaming of something you’ve been doing for ages? List what is the same – and what is different – so that you have an accurate tally in your assessment

74. Look into what additional equipment, resources and facilities/space you might need to take-on an IPD project in your office – make your office IPD friendly BEFORE you need it

75. Look for ways to merge – integrate – your religious or spiritual life with IPD

76. Watch this video and learn about IPD from the perspective of an acclaimed surgeon

77. New Yorker also blogged about this event.

And a bonus suggestion: Take an online personality self-assessment or other on your communication type – to see how you relate with others, identifying areas for improvement (FYI historically most architects are ENFJ’s with 10% as ENFP’s.) Free reliable assessments are also available with a little searching.

These are my top 77 suggestions for invigorating your commitment to working collaboratively in an Integrated Design environment. Do you have other links to favorite sources or suggestions you would like to share?


Filed under collaboration, construction industry, Integrated Design, Integrated Project Delivery, IPD, people, Uncategorized

BIM’s Great New Frontier

We stand on the edge of a New Frontier—the frontier of unfulfilled hopes and dreams, a frontier of unknown opportunities and beliefs in peril. Beyond that frontier are uncharted areas of science and space… John F. Kennedy

It was almost exactly 50 years ago, in his acceptance speech in the 1960 United States presidential election, that the then recently elected president spoke these words.

Today, with the all-out emulation of that time period – An Education, Mad_Men and A Single Man come to mind – there’s a sense, with that decade of promise and passion, something great and profound has passed forever: something elegiac, full of promise, teeming with anticipation.

A direct line could be drawn from the speech heard round the world and events just nine years later at the end of that decade when man had landed on the moon.

We find ourselves today at the threshold of a similarly new era. Take counsel when marveling how quickly the past decade drew by.

As a profession and industry what will our man on the moon moment be?

            “Can’t repeat the past?…Why of course you can!”

Great discoveries surely lie in store for architecture, engineering and construction. There will be marvels as yet undreamed of as there always are.

And yet we find ourselves living in a time convincingly telling us to set aside our preoccupation with the design of objects and things in favor of processes, systems and flows.

BIM and Integrated Design and LEED together are our stimulus and our infrastructure.

It has been a while since we’ve had a frontier to discover, a frontier commensurate with our capacity to wonder.

Today BIM and Integrated Design and LEED are our great New Frontier.

            “Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone…just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

Nonetheless, some stand at the threshold looking back, approaching BIM and Integrated Design and LEED with skepticism and cynicism.

Well-earned, no doubt, after many years in the business.

They say these are just tools. Today’s CAD, a newer and better pencil.

That Integrated Design is unrealistic and LEED cumbersome and self-serving.

As assuredly as we will see technologies surpass BIM, processes pronounce Integrated Design obsolete, and superior means to sustainable buildings and places than LEED – today as a profession, as an industry, as a country – BIM and Integrated Design and LEED are our Manifest Destiny.

Together they are our rallying cry, our call to expansion of the design professions into new territories that lie in wait beyond, neither by imperialistic expansion into territory belonging to others nor devolving into their slaves.

            “What’ll we do with ourselves this afternoon? Cried Daisy, and the day after that, and the next thirty years?”

As the great new frontier BIM and Integrated Design and LEED are ours for the taking by eminent domain.

Our expansion into the unknown, into the future, should be something fierce and exciting – untamed and new.

A means by which to rediscover our territory – and other worlds – all over again.

Enter with trepidation – enter with anticipation – but whatever you do, enter.

You do not become stronger by protecting and contemplating your core. You become stronger by opening up to what lies in store.

            “There was the promise of a decade of loneliness, a thinning list of single men to know, a thinning briefcase of enthusiasm, thinning hair.”

This, right now, is our moment.

How you approach BIM and Integrated Design and LEED is how you approach anything.

With mutual fear and trepidation, distrust and unwillingness to share?

Or with an open mind, anticipating, expanding into new ground, growing ever outward, a small Kaizen step at a time?

When others are progressing while we are wait-and-see, approach this new territory with small steps if you must. But approach we shall.

By summer we will have jumped fences, barriers, cubicle walls.

By fall, we will have reached all the way across the table.

Who knows where we will be this time next year…if we do not take these first small steps.

This is our moment. Our moment will soon pass.

             “For a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity to wonder.”

BIM and Integrated Design and LEED are our new frontier, a land to explore, a territory to discover – and to conquer. So be bold.

Settlers first came to America with one ambition, a better life.

What came of this better life?

As the American Dream is a life in pursuit of opportunity, freedom, equality, community and wealth, ours is one of collaboration, mutual trust and sharing. In Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, these dreams soon diminished as materialistic values superseded all.

Soon owners will arrive on our shores. What will we do?

BIM and Integrated Design and LEED are at once our green breast of the new world and our green light at the end of the dock.

The green expanse before us offers a better way for owners and a better way for all.

BIM and Integrated Design and LEED are our continent to discover, explore and experience. They are our promise of a new way to work and prosper so that we all may reach our dreams together.

            “Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock….his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him.”

Together the technology and process paint a picture of a bright new world.

The opportunity they portend is endless. Let us not forsake it.

BIM and Integrated Design and LEED together are commensurate to our capacity to wonder.

They have the power to transform us into who we once envisioned ourselves to be.

Let’s not beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.


All quotes from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel “The Great Gatsby” dealing with the failure of the great American dream.

Leave a comment

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

All I Really Need to Know about BIM and IPD I Learned in Kindergarten

“The architect who combines in his being the powers of vision, of imagination, of intellect, of sympathy with human need and the power to interpret them in a language vernacular and time—is he who shall create poems in stone.”              Kindergarten Chats on Architecture, published in 1901 in which Louis Sullivan, as a master architect, teaches a fictional student his principles of architecture and philosophy. 

Maybe it’s time we have a kindergarten chat? In a recent online group discussion, I asked two questions:

            What is the right place to learn the habits, mindsets and attitudes required for design professionals and others in the construction industry to work effectively in an integrated environment?


            If the current generation of emerging design professionals didn’t learn the habits, mindsets and attitudes critical for working effectively in a BIM and IPD environment in kindergarten, when will they pick it up?

Responses kept coming, dozens and dozens of insightful comments in all. One thing that is clear from the comments is that we should have learned these basic habits, attitudes and mindsets such as trust, sharing and collaborating in kindergarten. But it has become apparent to many – especially to owners and contractors – that these values weren’t picked up by their design professionals in kindergarten –or any time since.

So what to do?

Before we all take crash courses to rekindle these basic – but critical – values and practices, it makes sense to address what needs learning and when best to learn it, so that we remain relevant and effective practitioners for those we work with and advise. To this point there are roughly three schools of thought.

BIM and IPD: Three Schools of Thought

            Integrated project delivery (IPD) integrates all team members–owner, architect, construction manager, engineers, and subcontractors–to form a collaborative effort, seeks input from project team members at the onset of the project, allows team members to leverage Building Information Modeling (BIM) by creating a virtual design of every element of a construction project as well as its process.

As a school of thought is a collection or group of people who share common characteristics of opinion or outlook, this might be an effective way of categorizing the range of attitudes we carry about what’s important for design professionals to know – and when they need to know it.

BIM/IPD School of Thought 1: All I Really Need to Know about BIM and IPD I Learned in Kindergarten

My 14 year old son is learning BIM software this year at his high school. He and his peers find the software intuitive and pick it up quite readily.

With IPD, the focus is usually on Early Goal Definition, Intensified Planning, Appropriate Technology, Organization and Leadership. While these are important, as a process IPD is based on some very basic values and principles that unless mastered by all involved, the project will fail. These include: Mutual Respect and Trust, Mutual Benefits and Rewards, Collaborative Innovation and Decisions, Open Communication and Sharing of information.

An early reviewer of my in-progress book on BIM and Integrated Design summed it up this way: “Perhaps one of the most important benefits wouldn’t even cross your mind, and this book attempts to explain it succinctly: Integrated Design and BIM require a much different mindset, and this mindset requires collaboration, coordination, team work, and knowledge sharing in order to succeed. This is not an option, this is a prerequisite.” 

Some feel we should have picked-up these principles and values in kindergarten but either didn’t or weren’t paying attention. More likely, we did learn – but unlearned them in the years since – especially once we left the cocoon of school and embarked on the hard knocks of a career in architecture and construction. There we learned to be mistrustful, skeptical, competitive, secretive, working independently out of silos. In other words – we unlearned all of the critical habits, attitudes and mindsets necessary to work on an integrated team – and be effective practitioners today for those who need us most.

This line of thinking is perhaps best exemplified by this comment from a recent discussion:

            “Modeling/BIM as a craft/technical skill should be taught freshman year, just as pre-arch curricula traditionally taught drafting and rendering. As far as integration/collaboration goes, however, that’s a skill students (and professionals) should have picked up by         Kindergarten…”

BIM/IPD School of Thought 2: All I Really Need to Know about BIM and IPD I Learned in College

For others, college is the best time to address these work habits and attitudes. One commenter put it like thus:

            “This whole ‘change’ which is coming in our world has to be based on a foundation of trust, respect and a willingness to let one’s ego take a back seat to the ‘team’, the project and the client. If you can get the students & future architects to embrace this new way of working and thinking, early, I feel that they would be starting out on the right foot towards this new way of working.”

BIM/IPD School of Thought 3: All I Really Need to Know about BIM and IPD I Learned in the Workforce

While many comments stated that school was the ideal place to learn the technology and work processes to work together in an integrated fashion, others thought that this scenario was at best unrealistic, opting for this learning to take place after school – as summarized by this comment:

            “As a 50 year-old returning to school for a Master’s in Architecture, I would hope that the program exposes me to the core principles and concept being used today. It is important for students to have an understanding of IPD/BIM and the role they play in our profession. But, the true training will come as they enter the workforce. As mentioned in an earlier comment, many students are still graduating with little to no understanding of the business side of architecture, but, are well versed in the latest computer programs. I think the student should be exposed to what is currently being used in the profession. And then, allow their employment and progression toward licensure to hone those core principles that were taught in school.”

Whatever school of thought you belong to, I am not suggesting here that we return to school to relearn what some of us have unlearned – the hard way – in the midst of our careers during heated discussions, presentations and negotiations.

The hard truth is that owners need more commitment to collaboration – and with that trust and respect – from their architects and general contractors.

Perhaps it is time for a kindergarten chat – starting with one that we have with ourselves and then perhaps branching out to chats with our colleagues – where we refresh our memory and recommit ourselves to the basic but all-important values and principles that IPD is based on: mutual respect and trust, sharing, open communication and cooperation. Perhaps this is one all-critical commitment we can keep in what promises to be a pivotal year for our industry and profession. 


Filed under BIM, collaboration, education, Integrated Design, Integrated Project Delivery, IPD, people, process, Uncategorized



T              H             E

N             E              W

B             I               M

A             N             D

I               P             D

E              R             A


…eighteen letters that about say it all.

Leave a comment

Filed under BIM, Integrated Design, Uncategorized