Category Archives: workflow

BIM and Integrated Design: the College Curriculum


This is a first. I don’t know of any situation where a university course – let alone a curriculum – was named after a blog.

There are no Huffington Post studies, and one would need to look long and hard for a college course named after Boing Boing.

So you can imagine my surprise to discover – in so advanced a constitutional monarchy, unitary state and country as the UK – the announcement of the launch of BIM and Integrated Design: the college course.

According to the press release put out by the university, this is a world first.

United States schools have offered advanced degree and post-professional programs related to BIM and IPD as a delivery method for some time. Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) Master of Integrated Building Delivery program is but one example.

But never before has there been one specifically on the topic of BIM and Integrated Design.

As described in the course syllabus, this BIM and Integrated Design program is unique in that it approaches integrated design processes from a Lean design and construction perspective, with the use of enabling technologies – BIM and sustainability.

Also addressed in the program are the benefits that can be achieved through the adoption of BIM, including integrated processes; improved design coordination, information management and exchange; clash detection; clearer scheduling; improved sustainability outcomes; and improved value to clients and users.

While this looks like a lot of information to cover in a school curriculum, it is heartening to see that the considerable collaborative work processes of BIM –  impacting individuals, organizations and the industry – are emphasized in the course as well.

The BIM and Integrated Design program launches in September 2011 – coinciding with the release of my new book: BIM and Integrated Design: Strategies for Architectural Practice (John Wiley & Sons).

Read on for the full press release. Schools here would benefit from such a well-written article announcing new BIM and IPD-related courses and curricula.

At the end of this post is a link to a detailed description of the proposed course.

Skills gap warning as BIM becomes mandatory requirement

UK construction and design industry professionals must invest in skills training if they are to embrace the forthcoming implementation of Building Information Modeling (BIM). That is the view of Arto Kiviniemi, Professor of Digital Architectural Design at Salford University’s School of the Built Environment which today launches the world’s first MSc course on BIM and Integrated Design.
The government’s chief construction adviser Paul Morrell has indicated that BIM will become a key part of the government’s procurement of public buildings and that bidders and contractors on future public building projects would be expected to implement it on all future projects. A team is currently studying the use of BIM in government projects and will report its findings to the Construction Clients Board in March.
Integrated BIM means a fundamental change in the design, construction and facility management processes that involves data sharing between all shareholders based on digital models that can be used from a project’s early design stages through to completion and monitoring of subsequent performance.
The news that BIM will become mandatory in all public procurement has been met with some skepticism from the industry in the UK but Kiviniemi, one of the world’s leading authorities on BIM, has seen the benefits of the delivery of BIM across the US and Scandinavia, where it has been demanded by large public clients since 2007.
He explains: “In Scandinavia and the US public projects now use BIM and there is no doubt that it will become the standard in the UK and across Europe. It integrates the information that architects, engineers and contractors must deliver on a project and creates data which is usable in the integrated processes, simulations and life cycle management of buildings”.
“To make this work it is essential to share the data in open BIM format. The efficient utilization of data helps clients to make informed decisions and will  enable our industry to respond to the environmental challenges, as well as to increase the productivity if we develop our processes too. There are definitely some strong success stories and evidence of measurable benefits if you look at the international studies of BIM and IPD (Integrated Project Delivery).”
He warns: “Those who have not embraced BIM will be simply out of the running for public projects.”

The government’s introduction of BIM is designed to unlock new ways of working that will reduce cost and add long-term value to the development and management of built assets in the public sector. Paul Morrell has said that he hoped that the report would mark the beginning of a commitment to a timed programme of transformation and adoption.
Adopting an industry-wide BIM process is likely to reveal a significant learning gap in many companies with people left wondering how to implement this into their own practice. In response the School of the Built Environment at the University of Salford has launched a unique programme of Building Information Modeling and Integrated Design which commences in September 2011.
The course is designed to promote a deeper understanding of the impacts and business benefits of adopting integrated BIM on the supply chain organizations. It is aimed at design professionals, e.g. architects, architectural technologists, structural and M&E engineers, and design/project managers and will give companies a head start in implementing a BIM-based approach.

Look here for more information about the Masters Degree in BIM and Integrated Design.

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Filed under BIM, BIM instructor, collaboration, Integrated Design, Integrated Project Delivery, IPD, modeling, process, workflow

The Perpetual Improvement of Lean Design


I was asked recently to speak at the Lean Construction Institute’s Project Production Systems Laboratory Design
Forum in Berkeley CA next week.

LCI P2SL in leanspeak.

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

Lean design, for short.

Waste is defined here as all the things owners should not – and increasingly, will not – pay for.

Waste is also all the things the earth should not – and increasingly, will not – pay for.

Sure, there’s the lean methodology based on The Toyota Production System (TPS) from which all lean methods evolve.

Unless you believe in intelligent lean design.

But we’ll save that for another post.

If the architect’s design process is inefficient, it is so for many reasons that are outside the architect’s control, including the regulatory process and climate, availability of financing and (in)decisiveness of the owner.

That said, knowing these could be potential obstructions to an otherwise lean design approach, there is much the design team can do in advance to prepare for – and address – these inefficiencies.

So much so that I will make the subject of preparedness the topic of its own future post.

Lean Applied to the Architectural Design Process

The architectural design process is a different creature for a number of reasons.

What makes design less efficient, effective and gets its BMI way up, has as much to do with human nature as it does with streamlining the design process in more methodological ways.

The focus remains the same – on creating client value and working closely with all teammates.

What is different here are all the potential conflicts and complexity brought about by teams attempting to work together in an integrated way.

Call it the human component, the people factor. Whatever you name it, it is a very contemporary issue and one that requires our attention.

Here are a couple questions that one might ask to start a discussion.      

If you have questions that you don’t see here that you would like to see asked – I encourage you to add them in the comments below.

  • ·         What role does ego of design participants play in slowing down the design process? Making it less efficient and effective? Is there a place for ego – and related behavior – such as grandstanding, fluffing of feathers and creating bottlenecks in the flow of progress? It’s complicated. Early in one’s career, it is easy to dismiss such behavior as so much unnecessary theater – that it just calls attention to the person and away from the project. Here’s my take: If it doesn’t take away from creating value for the owner and doesn’t otherwise do any harm? A little ego – with its attendant storytelling and jive talk – is OK, goes a long way, serves as a lubricant to the often lengthy and involved design process and keeps life and meetings interesting.
  • ·         If this were your last project with your client – guaranteed to never work with them again – would you be less concerned about marketing your services, additional or otherwise? Would you be less afraid to ask questions that potentially make you our to be less of an expert you’re expected – or you purported – to be?
  • ·         Is the end project a known entity? Or does it require reinventing the wheel? Some designers need to innovate with each project irrespective of the assignment. But not all projects call for unique solutions. Buildings types should be adjusted for their particular region and location – but do not require the seemingly endless spinning of wheels often associated with projects being re-imagined whole cloth.
  • ·         Important team members arrive at meetings late – sometimes requiring those who did show up on time to review progress made in the meeting up until that point. Other times, their arrival is disruptive, interrupting the progress that had been made. In the Morphosis case study in advanced practice ($14.95 at di.net or view for free here) Morphosis principal Thom Mayne was late and project manager Tim Christ ran the meeting that covered mechanical, electrical, and structural issues of a 68 story tower design. When Mayne did finally arrive, his behavior was telling: He listened briefly to the conversation; he was concerned about various issues related to the cooling and ventilation systems; and he reminded the assembled team about the design intentions for the building. In other words, he made the project (and client value) the focus of attention – not himself. Something rare for an architect of that stature.
  • ·         Not utilizing people’s skills – their interests, their talents, not keeping them motivated and engaged – is also wasteful. And the negative energy they let out can be devastating to the workflow and corrosive to an otherwise tight knit team.
  • ·         Because they often flip projects once completed, developers are often more concerned about first costs over the life cycle of the building: lowest price over value. This practice is wasteful in the long haul, and takes a great deal of the architect and other design team member’s time and resources to convince them to act otherwise.

This presentation on Set Based Design in the building industry from a 2009 LCI Design forum is truly exceptional. Simply put, in Set Based Design a broad range of alternatives are considered, then choices are narrowed until a superior solution is found. It is somewhat similar to Integrated Project Delivery in that the earliest phases are front loaded with information and design options. From a lean perspective, the question becomes:

  • ·         How many alternatives are too many – at which point their production becomes wasteful?
  • ·         Can the design team distinguish between true alternatives – and choices – vs. variations on a theme? The presentation of slight variations alongside alternative designs can be wasteful – especially if the design is not among the contenders.

Several years ago, in a project interview for a $100M assignment with the building owner, the owner asked the four of us on the design team a number of questions about our process.

At one point he asked: How many designs will I get? (Ostensibly, in exchange for his $100M.)

As the senior designer of the project, I responded by saying what any red-blooded, self-respecting and (at the time) fiscally irresponsible designer would say:

“As many as you want!”

The project manager reeled it in a bit by saying: one!

“You will get one design.”

The firm’s high-profile partner said:

“Three. We typically find that three is satisfactory.”

The marketing director taught me an incredible lesson: he said – in fact, he asked

“How many do you want?”

That one worked. We got the job.

And after the interview – after we as a team started communicating and listening better and making sure we were on the same page – we helped to assure that the design process was a lean one: in oversight and spirit, if not in methodology.

You learn that most mistakes in judgment in the early design phases are forgivable – as long as you learn from them.

A little every day. It adds up.

What improvements to the design process would you suggest?

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Filed under design professionals, Integrated Design, Integrated Project Delivery, IPD, people, process, workflow

2011 BIM Resolutions


Don’t worry.

I’m not about to list two thousand and eleven separate BIM resolutions.

But I will share with you 11 really important questions that you ought to ask yourself as you enter the year ahead.

Start off by asking yourself:

What will you accomplish in the next year?

Will this be another year of the same ole, same ole?

Or will you attempt to accomplish something great?

Will you make it your goal to take BIM to the next level in 2011? If you are stuck in third gear of 3D BIM, do what is necessary to re-familiarize yourself with BIM scheduling. Move your game up a gear to 4D or 5D BIM.

Who will you teach BIM to this year? How well do you understand BIM? Really understand it? They say that the best way to learn something is to teach it. Do you understand BIM well-enough to teach it to someone else? To someone who is eager to learn? To an individual or a whole class?

What will you do in the next year to promote and help spread the word of BIM? Will you participate on online conversations or add your comments to LinkedIn discussions? Will you write an article for an online or print journal? Will you guest-post on a BIM blog? Or better yet, if you haven’t already done so, start one of your own? Will you be willing to give a presentation on the topic to your own firm? Already on board? Are you willing to take the show on the road and present on the topic at Autodesk University (AU) in 2011? AU call for proposals to be announced in March 2011. Look here for updates.

Here’s what I’ll commit to in 2011. On April 27-28 I will be giving a talk about what went into the making of my new book, BIM + Integrated Design: Strategies for Practice – at KA Connect 2011 – a knowledge and information management conference for the AEC industry where thought leaders from all over the world come together to share best practices, stories and ideas about how they organize information and manage knowledge in their firms. KA Connect 2011 will be held at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, CA. And this should be just the first of several talks I give in 2011 on the subject of BIM.

Will you determine to work on improving your BIM weak spots or on substantially reinforcing your already considerable strengths? Most people resolve to improve their weaknesses, while experts advise that it is a far better use of your time, energy and resources to make your strong suits even stronger. Which will you commit to?

Will you make it your goal to always bring your BIM A-game to work? What does it mean to bring you’re A-game each and every day? To bring your A-game means that you need to bring your best attitude and best abilities to each an d every situation. Are you willing to give this a consistent go at it? 

Will you embrace change in 2011? Are you committed to exposing yourself to the latest technical and business information concerning BIM? And how it is used by both professionals and, through case studies, owners? A new, updated edition of The_BIM_Handbook comes out on April 19: will you make it your goal to get your hands on a copy? And once you do, to read it? Available for pre-order here.

Will this be the year you give away what you know? Are you hording information that would do others a world of good to be aware of and to know – if only you were willing to share what you know? You may not even recognize or appreciate that you have an unusual grasp of a certain topic or skill set. Transparency is the name of the game. Don’t go down with your knowledge intact. Spread the word, share what you know, and see how by doing so it all comes back to you – many times over.

Here’s how I’m giving  away what I know in 2011. Later this year – sometime in summer – John Wiley & Sons will publish my book, BIM + Integrated Design: Strategies for Practice, exploring the collaborative work process enabled by the new technology and resulting social impacts on individuals, organizations, the profession and industry. I pull out all the stops on this one, not holding anything back. And that goes for the many people I interviewed for the book, too. We’re giving it away – for a nominal price – so that others may benefit.

Will you define BIM for yourself once and for all? The other day I overheard a colleague explain to a client that “BIM is essentially AutoCAD on steroids.” It took a lot of self-control on my part to restrain myself from jumping in and fleshing-out his definition for the benefit of all involved. What would you do in this situation? How would you respond if asked to define BIM off the cuff?

What will BIM mean to you? Whatever BIM means to you now, will you commit to a clear definition for yourself in 2011? One that you are willing and able to convincingly communicate to others, and defend if necessary? Is BIM just a tool – a vehicle for getting you to meet deadlines and achieve your goals? Is BIM a process, impacting workflows, performing best when used collaboratively with others?

Some additional questions to consider as you kick-off another outstanding year working in BIM:

  • ·         What makes you interested in working in BIM? How has that changed from year to year?
  • ·         Why does it matter to you? What personal values of yours does working in BIM fulfill?
  • ·         What’s your long-term vision for how things will change as you – and others – continue to work in BIM?
  • ·         What is the first thing you are going to do to work toward your goals?
  • ·         What small daily changes are you going to make (think kaizen)?
  • ·         What strengths do you bring to working in BIM? Do you have a firm understanding of where you contribute the most? How have you communicated this to others you work with? How will you do so more effectively moving ahead? (image courtesy of larsonobrien)

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Filed under BIM, defining BIM, process, Uncategorized, workflow

Imagine


Imagine.

A design tool.

For early concept work.

That will allow you to design and do quick analysis.

Via the cloud.

That will allow you to orient and sculpt your building to respond to the environment.

In ways that were difficult or impossible before.

That will allow you to compare different schemes for energy performance.

In just a few clicks.

Without requiring you to cobble together separate programs that don’t play well together.

Imagine

You have at your disposal

– today –

A flexible program that produces conceptual models using both geometric and parametric modeling functionality.

At a time when there’s arguably more need for conceptualizing and analysis than for documentation.

That isn’t too big of a beast to work with.

With a light computer footprint.

That doesn’t ignore our economic competitiveness.

That got us back to basic value added activities.

That focused on keeping productivity on an upwards trajectory.

Imagine you had this program.

Right here, right now, to play with.

Providing you with a number of pre-defined readymade masses for you to drag and drop into your project from the project browser.

So easy to learn that you’ll have it up and running in no time.

BIM LT…Less Filling

Imagine a program that didn’t cause architects of a certain age to demur at the prospect of taking on yet another technology.

When retirement is within their sights.

Architects who can be overheard at night, and arising every morning, reciting:

Please, dear Lord, don’t make me learn BIM.

Imagine an app without all of BIM’s bells and whistles.

BIM reduced to its bare essentials.

For use in the early design stages of architectural design projects.

That let users get their hands dirty

– faster –

With easy to navigate UI that only gradually disclosed its underlying complexity.

A lighter, more agile, less imposing user interface.

Love Means Never Having to Say Vasari

Imagine

An easy to use standalone application.

Built on the same technology as a BIM platform.

An on-ramp gateway for BIM.

Designed for students and young designers.

Anyone who considers himself or herself an architectural designer.

Anyone interested in 3d parametric modeling.

Anyone looking for ways to understand performance-based design.

With energy analysis integrated into the product so you can begin adjusting your design as you go.

Seamlessly exporting to eQuest, Energyplus, and gbXML.

But working equally well for someone who, upon seeing gbXML, would like to buy a vowel.

While designed for students and young designers,

It wouldn’t surprise me if mid-career architects, engineers and designers were this program’s biggest user.

Cost and steep learning curve are often cited as the main reasons for contractors and designers don’t even explore BIM.

These impediments have been removed.

Obstacles cleared. Challenges neutralized.

With Vasari, Less is finally More

To simplify, something had to go.

So detailed BIM modeling tools were removed.

No walls. No windows. No doors.

Those who can’t so much as think without walls will be challenged.

Everyone else, stick around.

It all – as with all great and worthwhile adventures – started as a simple question: What if?

Imagine.

Concocted in a lab by an integrated team.

Technicians who, wanting to see what a small team could do in a short amount of time, used the same process to develop their product as they used to build the headquarters where it was developed.

Software architects using something approximating design architects Integrated Project Delivery.

As with IPD, working with a co-located cross disciplinary integrated design team to increase collaboration, blurring roles to foster innovation, focusing work on a shared information repository, sharing equally in the risk and reward.

IPD in everything but name.

Developing a product that’s BIM at its core.

Revit at its core.

Import and export Revit files directly.

Create complex massing models, put them into Revit, add walls, doors, windows and structure.

Start with Project Vasari and then continue with Revit 2011 to make more detailed models.

Imagine

An easy-to-use, expressive design tool for creating building concepts.

And cloud-based integrated energy and carbon analysis.

So that your designs can be analyzed using the built-in energy modeling and analysis features.

Providing design insight where the most important design decisions are made.

Imagine

If Autodesk created an answer to SketchUp that works seamlessly with Revit.

Watch it here.

And here to see an excellent series of quick start video tutorials of the design and analysis tool.

Download it here.

Available as a free download and trial on Autodesk Labs until May 15, 2011.

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Filed under BIM, collaboration, design professionals, Integrated Design, Integrated Project Delivery, IPD, modeling, process, workflow

BIM in a Time of Disruption


What’s meant by Disruption?

Why not just say Disturbance?

Or Difficulty, Dissonance, Disorder?

Why not just fall back on the old chestnut, Turbulent?

Why introduce a new adjective when an old one will do?

Tumultuous?

Because the times we are facing as a profession and industry are just that.

Disruptive.

Requiring unusual levels of exertion on our part.

Marked by a shifting.

Resulting in displacement or discontinuity.

A break with the past.

A rupture (dis-rupture.)

Interrupting and impeding progress.

Leading to undesired consequences.

Facing challenges that act on us.

Not consecutively, in sequence, but simultaneously.

Preventing learning from taking place.

And a restful night’s sleep.

Placing us squarely outside our comfort zones

Feeling that things are not entirely in our control.

Like having your legs knocked out from under you.

What changes and doesn’t change

What doesn’t change in these disruptive times?

  • Values
  • Ideals
  • Goals
  • Culture

One thing that does change is the environment we’re living and working in.

Our context.

A shift in context

Think of the world we’re living and working in as our context.

The context in which we operate is shifting.

The challenge is how to remain productive and engaged while the world around us is changing.

Individuals, teams and organizations all over the world are faced with unprecedented levels of change in today’s social, economic and technology environments.

Here’s a quick survey through the litany of current disruptions to our familiar way of doing business.

Here’s the new context as I see it for working in BIM and Integrated Design.

3 types of disruption

  • Social
  • Economic
  • Technology

or S.E.T.

As in

  • mindSET               (social)
  • skillSET                  (technology)
  • reSET                     (economy)

How to face the current disruptive challenges

  • social mindSET
  • technology skillSET
  • economic reSET

And how to recognize them.

Like our president, design professionals today are confronting multiple problems at once.

Confronting us from all sides.

Compounding upon itself.

1. Social disruption

Workflow challenges.

Due to the fact that BIM has a completely different workflow from CAD.

And that senior management doesn’t understand this.

Caused by fellow teammates asking questions every 20 seconds.

Individual user frustration over inflexible access to elements needed for their work.

And team-wide loss of productivity while waiting for updates to complete.

Model data integration goes up.

Flexibility of workflow and performance in collaboration go down.

Work-sharing issues.

Working more collaboratively.

And focusing on creating new strategic collaborative relationships.

Interdisciplinary teams come together earlier in the process — at the onset of project team development.

Collaboration between architectural firms and other disciplines involved in the built environment ensue.

New types of agreements that promote cooperation.

Participation from all three major players – owners, architects, and constructors – simultaneously.

For the 1st time in history there are now 4 generations in the workplace at the same time.

Mutual mentoring.

Demand for accountability.

Quality problems often follow hastily put together reduced fee models worsening the problem and perception.

Architects finding their title shared with other industries.

Decisions expected to be more evidence-based.

Measured and then monetized.

Results-based compensation.

When we’re compensated.

2. Economic disruption

Brought about by the economic downturn, recession.

Running cold to hot.

From frozen credit and promotions to outright firing people.

Firms facing increasingly stiff competition.

Cutting fees to the bone to get new work.

Experiencing brand erosion.

Individuals and firms.

And still losing work to firms who low-balled fees.

Firms doing what they need to do to keep from having to layoff employees.

Shortened work weeks.

Furloughs.

Replacement of full-time technical employees with contract or outsourced workers.

Clients carefully considering the cost/benefit ratio of the services they buy.

Feeling more squeezed and threatened.

Wanting more but desiring to pay less:

The new less is more.

Client procrastination.

Clients want more for their money.

More complicated buildings delivered faster.

Schedule acceleration.

Unrealistic client expectations.

Turnover increasing.

Backlogs reducing.

Training considered an overhead cost.

Employees considered an overhead cost.

Feeling vulnerable and anxious.

Survivor’s guilt.

Making adjustments.

Working hard to maintain creative standards of design.

Striving to increase productivity of senior management.

Taking on more work, less time, less appreciation, less perks, less pay, rising expectations and fear.

More closely managed projects lead to more micromanaging, more oversight of senior management, less freedom and more scrutiny, less autonomy.

And happiness.

Taking on more risk to stay viable.

Or just to stay.

Going after work outside our area of expertise.

Smaller projects.

Outside your comfort zone.

In project type, in services rendered, in locations where you do business.

In the technology we use.

3. Technology disruption

Brought about by staying current with new tools.

Investment in new technology.

The sudden advent of building information design tools and digitally-driven fabrication of building components that integrate the design-to-build supply chain.

BIM, while not yet a ubiquitous tool, settles in.

Although still underleveraged.

And misunderstood.

HR thinks BIM is just the latest software.

As does senior management.

Clients start to expect BIM models as part of the deliverables.

BIM helps meet quality, speed of delivery, energy consumption, sustainability and capital cost goals.

Design and construction marketplace, historically slow in its pace of disruption and change.

Suddenly isn’t.

BIM and Integrated Design require the use of collaborative tools.

Employees spend the day on Skype or in GoToMeeting sessions.

The firm sounds different with more frequent conference calls over speakerphone and web conferencing.

1000’s of clashes, conflicts and coordination errors are aired publicly in front of the whole team.

Like hanging your dirty laundry out to dry.

For everybody to see in the main conference room.

Employees are told this is part of the new process.

And not to equate the airing of clashes, conflicts and coordination errors with being criticized in public.

It’s best for the project.

We look for impact on morale.

Projects are better now for making course corrections in design rather than out in the field.

No longer worn-down by contractor RFIs and change orders.

While working in BIM, we learn about construction and constructability and sequencing.

And if it’s hard to build in BIM it’s hard to build in the field.

As Eric Hoffer said: “In times of change,

learners inherit the earth

while the learned find themselves

beautifully equipped to deal with

a world that no longer exists.”

Social, Economic and Technological Disruption

This is a time of economic, technical as well as social transition for practitioners.

Dealing with disruption requires

  • Agility, flexibility, adaptability, resourcefulness
  • Playing smarter, not only better
  • Listening, being observant, asking questions
  • Being attuned to the present so that we can anticipate the future
  • Perhaps most importantly, the right mindset and attitude

And yet, despite all of this disruption, according to Gallup, employees are still very much engaged.

How could this be?

Employees know what is going on.

But they don’t see much of the disruption.

They’re protected from it.

This is our new role in the age of BIM.

To do all we can to protect each other from the disruptors that are all around us.

In this time of less, we accomplish this as much by what we do

as by what we don’t do.

We do this by not doing or saying anything

unwittingly or purposefully

to demotivate or disengage one another.

Primum non nocere. “Do no harm.”

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Filed under BIM, BIM organizations, collaboration, construction industry, design professionals, Integrated Design, process, workflow

A Seeker’s Guide to BIM and Integrated Design


If BIM isn’t a spiritual practice why does it have so many dimensions?
– Anonymous

The vast majority of design and construction professionals are happy to put in their time with the model and go home at the end of the day knowing they’ve contributed their share.

A small handful suspect there is something more to BIM than that.

This post is for them.

If you count yourself among the few – consider yourself a seeker.

Seekers recognize that BIM is not just technology, the next generation software.

For these select few, BIM is not an end in itself but a means to a higher end.

For seekers, BIM is a calling: an opportunity to tap into – and act on – their higher selves.

They may not be able to articulate what this something more is – they’re seekers after all.

Call their approach Zen and the Art of BIM Modeling or Modeling on the Contractor Within – titles admittedly as trite as they are timeless.

But they very well may be on to something.

Their approach to BIM is the subject of this post.

While I’m going to get a bit new-agey on you here

– seeing that this is a why-to not a how-to blog –

I won’t ask you to model crystals or bead curtains in ArchiCAD.

If the last time you were so incensed was when you got miffed at someone in the field,

And if you have no patience for pseudo-spirituality, sentimentality, proselytizing, fanaticism, holier-than-thou delusions and spiritual tourism,

Read on anyway.

A Better Way

This post is for those who are seeking a better way – to live, to work and to practice.

Let me start off by saying that the word “seeker” has a vaguely 60’s sound.

OK it has an overtly 60’s sound.

While it may seem like the only seekers these days are job seekers,

This is just not the case.

Meditate on this

I suspect if you’ve come here –and read this far – that you may be a seeker too.

Wherever you find yourself on the BIM path – considering it, adopting it, implementing it, mastering it, transcending it – you are on the right path.

While BIM has only been in the collective consciousness for a little more than a quarter century – the wisdom of working in BIM is ageless – having been passed down by master builders from generation to generation since the beginning of recorded construction.

Passed down today in the form of twin tablet computers each inscribed with Ten Commands.

Here, for the first time, are the 20 Commands every seeker ought to grok when working in BIM and Integrated Design.

Command I. Master BIM

For those more familiar with modeling programs and computer monitors than prayer books, BIM returns the user to a reverence for architecture and construction.

Whether you prefer your Testament Old or New, add a black silk tassel and you’ll find yourself on the critical path.

Whether you

»        haven’t tried BIM yet,

»        have been trained in BIM but aren’t using it,

»        are working in BIM but have not yet mastered it, or

»        have mastered BIM and are teaching it

start on page 1, and make it your goal to work your way through – tips, techniques and tutorials – from beginning to end until you have achieved Mastery.

Accept BIM. For whatever you accept, you go beyond.

Increase you personal and professional mastery by mastering BIM.

Command II. Honor your Inner Contractor

The days of freewheeling design – without a conscience, without acknowledgement of impacts to the environment, budget, schedule, material and labor availability and construction methods – are over.

Architects claim these were top-of-mind when putting pencil to paper and they may well have been.

But perhaps not so much when they were maneuvering a mouse.

Construction has become too complicated to keep everything in one’s head.

So work with checklists, and honor your inner contractor.

You’ll feel more complete.

And when contractors honor their inner architects we will all be as one.

Command III. Choose your Guide Wisely

When the student is ready the teacher appears.

Just as Google is our main map to the information highway, what is your map or guide to BIM?

Consider this guide, or a teacher, trainer, mentor or Sherpa.

Every pilgrim needs a map when first starting out, to chart a path in troubled times.

Make it personal – after learning the basics, learn your own way, and take your own path.

Plan your own journey into BIM and IPD.

Determine what works for you.

Just as America is a cross-pollination of religious, political, psychological, metaphysical, and ancient traditions that have flowered into contemporary life, you bring to your study of BIM and IPD years of schooling, work experience, indoctrination, beliefs, preferences and prejudices.

From these you will carve out your own path.

Create from this a contemporary, personalized approach to practicing BIM and Integrated Design.

Who will be your guide – your guiding light in these dark times? Who will help guide you on your charted or uncharted path?

Find a guide that sees themselves as a conduit to your professional education and fulfillment.

One that has your best interests and goals in mind.

To find a guide, look for signposts along the way.

Command IV. Let Go

Too many grasp – hold too tightly – to CAD, our old way of doing things.

Holding on to what came before. It is said,

A change here is a change everywhere.

So let go.

And let the program do the heavy lifting of coordination.

Freeing you to do what you do best.

The reason you went into this career in the first place.

It’s a scary proposition: BIM frees you to be what you were meant to be.

No excuses. No blame.

BIM is the end game.

You can think of working in BIM as dealing with loss – losing what came before.

But it is better to think of working in BIM from the perspective of a beginner.

To approach BIM with beginner’s mind.

For you cannot approach BIM with a CAD mindset.

There’s an art to starting over. It’s the art of letting go – of the old ways of doing things.

So let the new way in.

Relinquish the past and the future and work in BIM in the here and now.

Command V. The Best way to Learn BIM is to Teach BIM

You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother. Einstein

Spending the past year writing a BIM book I have had to explain the concept to far too many grandmother types.

The best way to learn something is to teach it.

It is a priceless exercise to hone what you know by communicating it so simply and clearly that anyone could understand.

Even a seventh grader.

Most journalists are instructed to write so that a 7th grader could understand.

Could you explain what you do to a seventh grader so that they understand?

Volunteer at the local campus, sit in on crits, give a lunch and learn in your own office of that of a competitor, or help out those in the workplace by mentoring up or down.

But whatever you do – in order to learn BIM – you’ve got to teach it.

Command VI. Chop BIM, Carry IPD

Enlightenment can be found in the practice of BIM.

So practice BIM as though it were an art form.

But also practice BIM as you would do the dishes or brush your teeth.

Think of practicing BIM and working in IPD as nothing special.

Make BIM your practice and IPD your path.

Be present when working in BIM and mindful when working in IPD.

Bring awareness to every move you make in the model and at the table.

Command VII. BIM Marks a Return to the Shaping of Space

You were meant to be many things.

But perhaps most of all you were meant to be a shaper of space.

Working in BIM provides you – once more – with the opportunity to shape space.

We hear a lot about BIM objects.

The essence of BIM isn’t objects but emptiness.

BIM empowers you to work with all that is absent, what is not there.

Just as the air between the spokes forms the wheel.

Use BIM to give shape to the space between things.

Command VIII. Change the way you look at BIM and BIM itself will change

Use BIM to help you simply see things most people do not.

Look at BIM as just a tool – and that is what it will be for you.

Look at BIM as something more – a process, a path – and that is what it will be for you.

Your choice.

Don’t try to change BIM – it’s hard enough to get hold of someone at Autodesk – change the way you see it.

What’s easier? Changing you or changing Autodesk?

Change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change. Max Planck

Working in BIM and IPD should provide a peace that comes from seeing the world differently, more openly.Command IX. BIM is not a Destination but a Journey

BIM is a tool as well as a process.

But what sort of process?

BIM is a process for reaching personal, professional and organizational goals.

A process for getting more work and becoming more profitable.

And a process for remaining relevant.

A process for working cooperatively with our teammates.

Make working in BIM your process, your journey, your path and you will prosper.

Command X. To Work in an Integrated Manner, Work from within – not without

BIM is an inside job.

Working in BIM will teach you that a building is not a rectangle with a roof and entry added any more than a bird is not an ellipse with head and tail added.

That’s SketchUp.

BIM is instead yet another form of your inner being, which you first have to identify yourself with in order to become a silent link of the creative flow.

In other words, you have to see yourself as integral to the design and construction of the model.

You do not stand apart from it.

Nor do you see yourself as separate or isolated.

It is not that you become one with the model.

That’s when you misidentify with what you are creating which can only lead to frustration.

Instead, become part of the process itself.

Not additive – though it may seem this way – but integrated.

You are working toward making a complete, whole work of art and architecture.

Not a building with things that can be blown off in a strong gust of value engineering.

With BIM everything is both connected and interconnected.

Command XI. The I in BIM is for Building

Enough has been written and said for now about the “I” in BIM.

BIM plain and simple is about the experience of Building.

Building, not destroying or tearing down.

Building, however virtually.

When you build in BIM you are building virtue-ly.

Not just with one’s eyes or hands alone, but with all of one’s senses, heart and spirit.

BIM allows you to put all of yourself into the model.

So put yourself into the model.

Don’t talk. Don’t draw. Build.

Command XII. BIM is the Path back to Purpose

We were doing ourselves a disservice.

We were designing irresponsibly.

We went into our chosen field – architecture, engineering or construction – for a reason.

So many of us have abandoned this reason.

Because it became more important to make rent or mortgage or associate.

Than to pursue our dreams.

BIM allows you to honor yourself. Your higher purpose. Your reason.

BIM gives you the opportunity to design and build honestly.

BIM and IPD together offer the chance to work honestly, with trust, with reward.

Command XIII. When you Work in BIM you Make Things Whole

There is a hidden wholeness in all you do.

You job is to discover it and uncover it.

Just as Michelangelo said every block of stone has a statue inside and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it, so too it is your role in BIM to discover the building inside.

As it is your role in BIM to discover the builder inside you.

We have for too long been incomplete, part architects.

Make it your goal to become whole again.

More complete architects as Winter Street Architect’s Paul Durand put it so aptly in BIM + Integrated Design (Wiley, 2011.)

Command XIV. BIM and Integrated Design’s Holistic Approach to Construction

Integrated Design is where a building is designed holistically using input from key stakeholders, including architects, contractors and owners.

A Whole Building Design approach involves immediate feedback from stakeholders on design decisions – an iterative process that draws from the wisdom of all involved throughout the life cycle of the project.

Resulting in greener projects, projects with less conflicts and needless cost expenditures.

Whole architect. Whole contractor. Whole building.

Command XV. BIM as a Discipline by which the World of Construction may be Rediscovered

BIM doesn’t teach you to draw, it teaches you to see.

Working in BIM helps you to learn to focus your attention while drawing, designing and constructing the model.

BIM teaches you that it is more important to be concerned with what you are observing than what you are putting down on paper or feeding into the monitor.

Observing the order of construction, layers of materials.

The steps taken in your seat are the steps taken in the field.

You understand why trades tripped all over each other at the jobsite,

Because you were doing so in the drawing.

You have a newfound appreciation for what comes after design.

Because you are at the jobsite when seated at your monitor.

On your bouncy ball.

Command XVI. Flow and Working in BIM

With BIM, there’s workflow. And, with BIM, there’s flow.

When so engrossed in what you are doing that time stands still?

Or disappears altogether?

That’s flow.

Get to the point where you are challenged by the work at hand.

But not so much so that you have to stop and ask questions every 20 seconds.

Aspire to ask questions every 30 seconds.

Then one every minute.

Doing so feeds the soul on a level akin to meditation.

And won’t aggravate your colleagues as much.

Work in BIM. Melt into the moment.

Command XVII. Approach BIM and IPD with Fearlessness

Look boldly at these tools and processes we have been given.

Here, now, on earth.

As a design professional or construction worker.

Everything changes…

Be bold.

Master the art of BIM to produce positive changes in our profession and industry.

Master the art of IPD to produce positive changes in our world.

This is not the time to be a wuss.

Command XVIII. Listen to your Body

BIM is intense work.

Taxing on the eyes, neck and wrists.

Long hours at your workstation, face in monitor – takes its toll.

Do not underestimate the wear and tear on your body.

Honor yourself. Play foosball. Take a prescription painkiller. Take a break.

Command XIX. “Live the Questionsrather thanSeek the Answers

A wise colleague estimated that when first starting out in BIM there will be one question every 20 seconds.

That can be taxing on you – and your more knowledgeable teammates.

Try this.

Come to them with solutions – suggestions – not questions.

Not how do I do x?

But when I tried x this happens WTF?

Not is there a better way?

But rather is this a better way?

Provide alternative solutions as you seek to understand.

Command XX. Create a Supportive Community

Join BIM groups on LinkedIn such as BIM Experts or AUGI.

Join BIM groups in your city or community.

But don’t just join – participate.

As with all things when you co-join you are helping to create community.

Meet with colleagues and peers after hours in your breakout room.

Make sure there’s plenty of Dos XX.

If for no other reason than to remind yourself:

You are not alone.

It is up to you to let everybody know:

We are all in this together.

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Filed under BIM, BIM instructor, BIM trainer, construction industry, design professionals, education, Integrated Design, Integrated Project Delivery, IPD, modeling, people, process, workflow

He’s just not that into you…or BIM


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

That’s right. One more.

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

You ready? Good.

JAT

There, that wasn’t so bad. Right?

It’s short for

Just a Tool

As in…

Well, you know.

The oft heard sentiment that

“BIM is just a tool”

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

And this rant.

So, fasten your seatbelts.

Not “just.”

BIM is not “just” anything.

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

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

The nonchalance of those who declare that

“That’s not a BIM problem.”

As in

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

Or

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

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

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

–          Abraham Maslow

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

As in

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

At least until BIM becomes a staple in the industry.

These dismissives come from those who are immersed in the technology

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

You’re soaking in it

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

But a tool?!

The way that the iPhone is just a tool.

Or the GPS is just a tool.

Or the human brain…

Only that BIM is ALL of these in one.

And the add-ons are BIM’s apps.

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

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

Apps are tools, I’ll concede you that.

BIM is…

BIM is a process

BIM is our saving grace

BIM is our ticket to ride

BIM is our pass out of here

BIM is our card that says pass GO

BIM is our last golden ticket

BIM is our salvation

BIM is the innards of an intricate clock

BIM is the white horse you rode in on

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

BIM, the enabler

BIM, the balm

BIM makes IPD possible

And also likely, relevant, necessary and inevitable.

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

No one would say

BIM is just a process.

BIM is just a strategy.

BIM is not just a technology: software is.

BIM is a disruptive technology. And…

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

BIM is a product

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

BIM is a facility life-cycle management requirement

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

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

BIM can serve as a reliable basis for decision making

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

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

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

Just as peanut butter can exist without jelly.

But

WHY ON EARTH WOULD ANYONE WANT TO DO THAT?!

And yes,

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

Tool.

But a pretty amazing one at that. And…

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

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

*Except for the last two letters. Shucks.

Definitions of Just BIM

No one would ever say

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

or

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

or

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

or even

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

Why qualify it?

So fuggedaboutit.

There’s no need for the acronym JAT.

BIM isn’t “just” any thing.

So stop saying it.

BIM just is.

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


What are you doing on August 2, 2010?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No Book, No Review, No Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

In other words:

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

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

It’s one helluva story. Here goes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mastering Autodesk Revit Architecture 2011 Factoids

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

This much we know to be true:

The book runs 976 pages**

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You find coping mechanisms and plug-ins.

Patches and workarounds.

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

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

It is one of our core attributes and competencies.

That is what we do.

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

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

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

27 Even Better Reasons + 3 Bonus Reasons

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

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

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

1 Beyond Basic Documentation.

2 The Principles of Revit: Tools and UI.

3 The Basics of the Revit Toolbox.

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

4 Configuring Templates and Standards.

5 Managing a Revit Project.

6 Understanding Worksharing.

7 Working with Consultants.

8 Interoperability: Working Multiplatform.

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

9 Advanced Modeling and Massing.

10 Conceptual Design and Sustainability.

11 Phasing, Groups, and Design Options.

12 Visualization.

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

13 Walls and Curtain Walls.

14 Roofs and Floors.

15 Family Editor.

16 Stairs and Railings.

Part V: Documentation.

17 Detailing Your Design.

18 Documenting Your Design.

19 Annotating Your Design.

20 Presenting Your Design.

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

21 Revit in Construction.

22 Revit in the Classroom.

23 Revit and Virtualization.

24 Under the Hood.

25 Direct to Fabrication.

26 Revit for Film and Stage.

27 Revit in the Cloud.

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

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

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

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

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

DON’T WAIT

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

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

Click here and free yourself.

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

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

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

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

Don’t wait. BIM operators are standing by.

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

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

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

T-Shaped BIM


Every now and then a simple, seemingly obvious concept comes around that transforms an entire industry. This post will introduce such a concept: the T-shaped BIM teammate.

Here, we are of course not talking about forming a T-shaped connection of walls in Revit. If you came here wanting to learn how to intersect walls in BIM, you’re a fool. Go here.

The rest of you, stick around. You might learn something important.

And, as in past posts, it is not actually BIM that is T-shaped – it is you. Or Tu – French and familiar for you.

Some people are put-off by the word collaboration – and for that reason I am going to refrain from using it again in this post.

For them – the word – implies compromise, time-wasting, money-wasting, talent-wasting, and perhaps worst of all, people- and process-oriented as opposed to product- or building-oriented interactions.

To them, people are impediments to progress, not the lubricant that makes things flow. Perpetually in search of workarounds –they work around people whom they believe keep them from completing their work. You know the type.The social case for BIM and Integrated Design

Integrated Design came into being for one reason and one reason alone: to achieve greater results for the owner and other project stakeholders. Including you.

There’s a compelling business case for working in integrated design: it enables the efficient and effective use of tools such as BIM and related technologies.

There’s a compelling technology case for working in integrated design: it potentially makes more efficient shared use of the software and work processes.

And there’s a compelling people case for working in integrated design: by colla- – by working with others, working together, cooperating traitorously or treasonously, sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus  – you and your team both can attain greater results.

Admittedly, not every project lends itself to the advantages of working co- co- co- together. For example, due to project size, schedule or client demands.

There’s another way to look at – working jointly – that may appeal to you more and potentially change the way you work from here on out.


The “|” in DIY

I used to work with someone who did it all himself. If there was a new program a project had to be accomplished in he’d learn it himself and do the work himself – even when he had several talented and eager others at his disposal. That way he knew the work was going to get done right. In a previous post I labeled this type of colleague’s approach DIY. I wrote about this concept – DIY vs. SxS – a while back here and will be speaking about it in a couple weeks at Christopher Parsons’s KA Connect 2010 here and here.

When he worked with others he thought he was delegating by handing-off tasks he didn’t want to do, but what he was doing was abdicating his role.

He was an “I” and as we know, there is no “I” in BIM

And as has been noted, no “I” in IPD either.

The T in archiTecT is more important, noteworthy, prominent and if you will, architectural, than the “I” in archItect or arch|tect which is divisive, isolating and dissenting.

“I” is a barrier – a barrier to co- co- co- cooperation – and as with the compelling and popular blog title Arch | Tech can imply a barrier between design and technology – or even design and construction – instead of stitching them together.

But the “|” doesn’t have to be an obstruction or impediment.

“|” can also be a net – as when Robert Frost famously opined that writing free verse is like playing tennis without a net.

Which is how I interpret the “|” in Arch | Tech, as a net between design and technology, lobbying the BIM back and forth.

As well, for that matter, as the “|” in BIM – volleying the model back and forth between design and construction, weaving a single unified model for use by all.

But | digress.


The ideal T-shaped BIM teammate

Right now you’re happy to find an engineer or consultant that works in BIM. Period. No matter their shape – or what shape their in.

But in time, as BIM becomes ubimquitous, you will start to add another level of criteria as you put teams together.

You will start to require that all your Team members be T-shaped and you will want to Team with other T-shaped professionals.

And because They will want to Team with T-shaped Teammates, you will Take it upon yourself to become T-shaped yourself.

The ideal candidate/colleague/teammate working in BIM and Integrated Design has both of these qualities

  • Deep skills
  • Broad reach

The vertical “I” or “|” represents what you do well – your depth.

The horizontal bar across the top is your reach – reaching out to assist others.

And as importantly being assisted by them.

Place the bar atop the “I” and you get the T-shaped BIM Teammate.

By becoming T-shaped you are putting on two performances:

  • 1. results in your own position (the “I” or vertical stanchion) and
  • 2. results by co- co- conjugating with others on your team (the horizontal bar resting atop the “T”)

T-shaped BIM Teammates do two things really well. They

  • reciprocate in that they are willing to share information and ask for information when needed
  • are rewarded for their own performance as well as for contributing to others on the team

Read more about this important concept here and here.

What causes a person with deep skills but little wingspan to suddenly reach out to share information with her teammates? Namely this: empathy

Tim Brown, CEO and president of IDEO, alludes to the role empathy plays in the T-shaped person

We look for people who are so inquisitive about the world that they’re willing to try to do what you do. We call them “T-shaped people.” They have a principal skill that describes the vertical leg of the T — they’re mechanical engineers or industrial designers. But they are so empathetic that they can branch out into other skills, such as anthropology, and do them as well. They are able to explore insights from many different perspectives and recognize patterns of behavior that point to a universal human need. That’s what you’re after at this point — patterns that yield ideas.

You can read more about what Tim has to say On Being T-shaped here and read an incisive interview with Tim where he discusses being Mr. T here

Still not convinced – or for that matter – entertained? Then take this and call me in the morning.

It should be apparent by now that the T-bone concept may be new to BIM – but not to the world of IT and computing. The first citation to T-shaped people goes back almost 20 years to David Guest, “The hunt is on for the Renaissance Man of computing,” The Independent (London), September 17, 1991. Read it here.

Soon, our Integrated Design teams will be made up exclusively with T-shaped individuals.

Made up, that is, of archiTecTs, conTracTors, consultanTs and clienTs with both deep skills and wide reach.

In time, our teams will begin to resemble something of a T-shaped chorus line

TTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT

which, perchance, resembles a bridge or aqueduct

TTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT

an apt image and timeless symbol for carrying the client’s goals toward exceptional results.

Simply sea-changing.

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My So-Called Parametric Life

This life has been a test. If this had been an actual life, you would have received instructions on where to go and what to do.                                                                                                         Angela in “My So-Called Life” 1994

Is it just me or has life gone totally parametric? Perhaps only a BIM evangelist, BIMhead or BIMaholic would propose BIM as a metaphor for life. (Guilty as charged.) So, what does it mean to live a parametric life?

It is not, of course, that you are a Revit model or are about to become one. While that is for some a distant possibility, your story – the one you are putting out there, not your life but your so-called life – has become a Revit model. Have you noticed?

Ask yourself this: At any time in your previous life (BB = Before BIM, AC = After CAD) did you ever dream in CAD? Those who used to work in CAD would recognize the scenario where you go home at the end of a long day at the monitor and dream in CAD – dreaming that you are living in a 2D drawing – in a CAD world.

Living a Parametric Life

I am not asking what it means to dream in BIM or what it means to have BIM dreams. To work so hard and for so long in BIM that we start dreaming in…3 dimensions? We already do that and have for millennia. Little more than wearing 3D glasses to bed.

But living in BIM? That’s something else altogether. Living in BIM is something that we’re only now getting around to doing. We find ourselves living in BIM

  • because in some ways we’re well ahead of the technology, processing information and anticipating next moves that leaves the software – however well-intentioned – in the dust.
  • because we recognize some of the amazing things the process accomplishes and we want to model the behavior in our own lives.
  • because we know in our bones that BIM is the future – we get it – and we want to be part and parcel of this future.

We’re told over and over that the software thinks just like us – architects, contractors, whoever. But most of us have discovered, some the hard way, that we have come, over time, to think like the software. Revit doesn’t think like us – we’re thinking like Revit. That’s living in BIM.

I offer these 14 Rules for Living In, Out and Around BIM not as failsafe rules we need to follow – but to bring to our attention things we’re already doing right, right now, and ought to build on as we move forward. In other words, behavior – not buildings – that we ought to be modeling.

14 Rules for Living In, Out and Around BIM

  • Be the interoperability you want to see. The old words don’t apply – learn the new vocabulary and make sure that everyone you speak with understands how you are using these terms. You want to be speaking the same language, make sure you are working on the same page. Until the time comes when models talk with each other, and software speaks fluidly with complete comprehension, take it upon yourself to make sure you are speaking the same language with those you work with, no matter their role on the team. How can we expect our software to be interoperable if we aren’t?
  • A change anywhere is a change everywhere. You get the concept: Work you do in one part impacts the others. Parametrics, of course, is a distinguishing quality of building information modeling (BIM.) As with bidirectional associativity, a change anywhere is a change everywhere. There’s no escaping it – a change made in one place – compartment, area, phase – of your life impacts all the other places of your life. So be careful about what you change – whether your work habits, the way you communicate or how you operate within the team. Whatever you change about yourself will have repercussions throughout. Being parametric implies you’re consistent, you stay on-story, and you’re building not just a model but a brand. No matter how they cut you, you’re the same through and through.
  • Your space-keeper and workaround is someone else’s obstruction. The choices and decisions we make must have integrity because they will be repeated everywhere. What’s worse, you will be judged by the integrity of your information. If you are awaiting information and need to plug something in just to keep the ball moving – notify the team – especially contractors who view missing data as roadblocks, no matter your good intentions or justification. And don’t make a habit of it. Your goal ought to be to see how long you can keep the plates spinning.
  • You can’t step into the same model twice. A model is more like a river than a thing. Your contribution to the building of the model has more to do with the communication of information than the rock-solid enclosure you consider your domain. We’re not designing objects or things (and never really were) – but flows, communicating information to others. The model you jump into and help out on today is not the same model you worked on yesterday – especially if you’re working on an integrated team. The more you can think in terms of systems and flows the better off you’ll be.
  • Run an internal clash detection of your team before starting on the project. Look for supportive personalities, learners, those who are passionate and excited to work, those who enjoy what they do and for whom working in BIM – and ideally on this particular project – was a choice. And weed out the devil’s advocates and other contrarians – unless the criticism is constructive, regularly leading to decisions and action, offering alternatives when one course is shot down.
  • Consistency is king. Aim for an inherent consistency to everything you do. Take LOD. Make sure your team knows what level of detail (LOD) you are modeling to. That each part of the model has the same level of detail. Think of detail in terms of levels – as in levels of detail – that are built upon. A conceptual model ought to have conceptual level of detail throughout the model. Same with a model used for energy analysis, for quantity take-offs and estimating, for fabrication. And so on. Like roughing out a sketch – you start with the basic shapes, then you fill in detail, until the image is fleshed out. So too with the consistency of the information you impart. If you are job hunting – don’t, under your “Reading on Amazon” widget – have the 4-Hour Work Week as your recommended book. It undermines your message. Use LinkedIn’s book section to reinforce your message or let others know what you’re reading – but stay on-message. That goes for your work both in the model and on your team. Don’t say one thing and do another. That’s so CAD.
  • What you see is what you get. Your model is only as good as the information that you put in it. Garbage in, garbage out. There’s no hiding anymore. So be real. There’s no faking it either– who we are and what we do are expected to be real, so be real. Hemingway had what he called a built-in bullshit detector. All the best writers have this. You need to develop or acquire this talent for yourself. And be aware that those working but upstream and downstream from you have their turned up on high.
  • Decisions are consequences. We’re no longer designing objects or things, but courses of action. Our decisions impact others – we need to be aware of the consequences for our courses of action on every facet of  the team and process. Look at every decision you make in terms of whom it impacts both upstream and downstream.
  • While you model the building, model your behavior. Think of each team and project you are on as an opportunity to put in an exemplary performance. You are serving as a role model for others whether you are aware of it or not. And as with raising kids, your behavior – the way you act and perform – is worth 10X the impact of your words.
  • Perform an expectation audit. How you see the model/what you do might be different from how others see it – ask them how they plan on using the model – then try as best you can to accommodate them. Ask the contractor early on how they plan on using the model, what level of detail they would like to see in the model, then try to accommodate them. If money is an issue, discuss being compensated or remunerated with the owner.
  • Play well with others even if your software doesn’t. Another way of saying get in the habit of behaving as though the software does what you want it to do – because the time will come, soon – when it will. You want to be ready for when the day arrives. Better the technology plays catch-up, not you.
  • Your model doesn’t limit itself to 3D. Why should you? Don’t limit yourself to 3 dimensions. What about a 4D you and a 5D you? If you are doing your job and even doing it well you might be selling yourself sort – by a dimension or two. Look for ways you can be contributing beyond your title and role. Because when you work on an integrated team, you are more – much more – than these labels. Yes, you need to perform and do the work that has been assigned to you, your teammates are relying on you for this. Your model isn’t limited to 3D – nor are you. What would the 4D version of yourself look like? But the true value of working collaboratively is the way you keep others – and their focus – in your peripheral vision – just of your own cone of focus. Look for ways to cut time – and save money – for others, and be prepared to make these suggestions before the subjects come up. Always keep an eye on the horizon – and the topic of the next team meeting.
  • Ask yourself: If I was the model what else would I do? What else can I provide that others may need? Your original intention for your model may have been to use the model for one thing – but what if you also used it for a rendering? For an animation? As a database to run energy applications? Similarly – ask yourself: what else can you do or provide that others may need? How else can you push the envelope on yourself in terms of what you can add in the way of value at this time, for these team members, on this project?
  • Are you leveraging the technology of your team? Look around you – at those seated at the table. Do they have certain skillsets, experience or resources that you could leverage to help you to meet and even surpass your goals? You leverage the deep capability of the software and virtual model – why not leverage these same attributes and qualities in those you count on every day to come through for you?

Your turn: Can you think of Rules for Living In, Out and Around BIM that are missing here, that you might add or rules you see that clash with this model?

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