Tag Archives: ArchiCAD

Why My BIM Book Didn’t Sell and Why I’m Writing Another One

BIM-and-Integrated-DesignWhen I meet architects and others working in the BIM world, they usually mention that they have a copy of my book.

My standard response is something like:

“My publisher told me someone bought a copy. Now I who it is.”

Which isn’t far from the truth.

Of course I thank them – for purchasing the book, for reading it, for mentioning this to me – none of which they’re obligated to do.

Next, they inevitably ask me The Question:

How many copies has it sold?

As I embark on the lengthy and arduous process of writing and publishing another book in the architecture and construction space, I was reminded by my publisher that my last book sold only 1000 copies.

“1069 copies,” I unhelpfully corrected them.

In 2009 I wrote, and in 2011 John Wiley and Sons published, BIM and Integrated Design: Strategies for Architectural Practice.

1069 copies! Including all of you who read my BIM book and told me they liked it.

Twelve out of 12 readers gave it the coveted 5-star rating on Amazon.

Disney Imagineering told me that they reference the book.

Firm leaders told me that they have a copy that they circulate in their office.

A few professors made it required reading in their classes.

The University of Salford named* their BIM curriculum after it.

I created the world’s only BIM book video trailer set to classical guitar music.

AIA National emblazoned the book across their website.

I placed book ads online including at Bob Borson’s blog Life of an Architect.

I went around the country touting the benefits gained by reading my book.

In fact, in 2011 at KA Connect, during a Pecha Kucha presentation, I went totally blank. And whether out of sympathy or who knows what, the book never sold better.

That time (gratefully, the only time) I froze-up on stage was one of the best things to ever happen to me career-wise.

I handed out coupons and gave books away as door prizes.

I wrote dozens of blog posts bestowing its virtues.

I sent out hundreds of emails to colleagues requesting they share a link.

And sent copies of books to friends, magazine editors and bloggers in the hopes they’d write a review.

Despite these efforts to move books, all-in-all equal to – or even greater than – what it took to write the book, the book sold poorly.

Pandering to architects has never been a particularly effective business model.

I recognize that it was not all my fault. The BIM book arrived in the midst of the world’s greatest economic downturn.

The fact that the book came out in 2011 was not lost on the author or publisher.

Nor the fact that the book’s undiscounted asking price is $75, that the book comes in hardcover (no inexpensive paperback version,) the images are b/w, nor that it looks like a textbook.

Why would anyone (apparently my students included) willingly purchase and read a textbook?

The book was faulted by one reader for appealing in its title (“strategies for architectural practice”) primarily to architects, whereas the “integrated design” in the title includes – and ought to appeal to – Engineers, Constructors, Owners and others.

As the author of the book, I take full responsibility for the fact that it did not sell.

I am mature enough to recognize that just because I like to read – and try to do so for a couple hours each day – it doesn’t mean that others like to read.

And even if they do, they may not like to read books per se.

I know my students don’t do their required reading, the word softly translated by my students as voluntary.

As though to say, how dare I assign textbooks?!

If only they knew how well-written they are!

I know everyone has a copy of BIG BIM, little bim and The BIM Handbook, but do you realize how excellent the writing is in Dana (Deke) Smith and Michael Tardif’s Building Information Modeling: A Strategic Implementation Guide for Architects, Engineers, Constructors, and Real Estate Asset Managers?

Or how exacting and spectacular the writing is in François Lévy’s BIM in Small-Scale Sustainable Design? François Lévy’s book is brilliant. I didn’t let the fact that it concentrates on smaller projects or that he uses Vectorworks, to dissuade me from reading it for pure enjoyment.

Having written a BIM book, and BIM blog for 4 years, I have a real appreciation for how hard it is to cut through the clutter and hype and say something that is mercurial and potent and insightful. Lévy manages to do this on every page – sometimes several times a page – and it is a shame more people haven’t read his book and sang its praises.

I learn best by books but recognize that professionals have different ways they prefer to learn: some by video, some lecture, some tutorial, or site visit, or hands-on, or via gamification.

When I interviewed very important people (VIPs) for my BIM book (Phil Bernstein and Chuck Hardy, among many others) I was blown away by the insightful things they said. And also by the way they said them. New things, things that you couldn’t find anywhere else.

I became who I am because of the books I read – and continue to read. For me, reading is like living two lives. The advantage it provides you is empowering. Nothing, and I mean nothing, can provide one with what can be found in a good book. Not first-hand experience (because in books, you gain other’s experience vicariously on top of your own;) new ways of looking at things (on top of how you already look at things;) new ways to do things (ditto;) and perhaps best of all, insights that take your knowledge up a notch – that could otherwise only be acquired through long and hard work on your own. All that, and they fit snuggly on a shelf or nightstand, iPad or Kindle.

This is why – despite the disappointing sales of my first book – I am devoting the next year of my life to writing another book.

I believe in the power of books and the power of the written word.

Especially as an antidote for those days I spend behind a computer monitor, messing with digital this, and computational that.

Books seem to place what I’m doing into a larger context, and in doing so, the best ones help provide a purpose for the time when I’m not reading.

* OK, not really but a pretty amazing coincidence nonetheless.

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How to Learn Revit in 1000 Difficult Lessons

In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists. – Eric Hoffer

No matter where you fall on the BIM continuum, there is always more to learn, further you can take the tool and process.

You may know the program but can you, for example, get it to address the entire building lifecycle?

And there have never been so many ways to learn.

Books and , tutorials, webcasts, gurus, on-demand video, pilot projects, in-house and out-of-housetraining at local tech school or software reseller, regional training centers, bootcamp, side-by-side training and DIY.

Our friends Eddy Krygiel, Phil Read and James Vandezande are working on a Revit series for new users.

(I am so excited I get to write another spoof!)

Learn tips and tricks in forums such as AUGI forums.

You can order dvds and videos and learn at your own pace in pajamas.

Paul Aubin even has a Revit Architecture 2011 quick reference guide that doubles as a reusable dinner placemat for $4.95

It depends on what you are looking to learn.

And where you are on the BIM journey.

And whether you’re the office or in the field.

You alone know how you learn best and how you retain what you learn.

And that is key to learning.

So chose the method that is a good fit for you and your needs wherever you are on the learning curve.

There is no one size that fits all when it comes to training, retraining and retaining.

Take Revit (please)

You can actually learn it quite easily – several places offer ½ day, 1 day and 3 day training sessions.

Some offer cut prices for those out of work, both onsite and remote learning in the privacy of your home.

So why is learning so difficult?

The way we make learning anything difficult is by any one of  four reasons:

  • stopping and starting.
  • forgetting what you learned by not using it.
  • using a method that isn’t a good fit for your budget, lifestyle, mindset.
  • doing it for the wrong reasons,

such as being forced by your employer before you’re ready, through peer pressure, fear of not keeping up or being left behind.

There are those who will read the title of this post and either 1. feel justified in their having worked in ArchiCAD, a perhaps more intuitive BIM program or 2. empathize because they too struggled with learning the program and then struggled to keep up with the inevitable changes with each new release.

Take a deep breath

Before you pounce – this site is vendor agnostic.

Revit was merely used in the title to provoke and incite a riot – two requirements of any effective blog post headline.

So take a deep breath.

It is not that the lessons themselves are difficult.

Or even that the program application is difficult – though once you do learn to work in BIM you may find some advanced uses difficult to grasp.

The fact is, we each make learning difficult by not honoring the way we best learn.

And by ignoring other basic signs and practices.

Professional practice is hard enough – don’t also make the learning hard.

You owe it to yourself to make learning interesting.

Some training sessions meet from 8am to 5pm in a plain vanilla box of a room.

Not for you.

Can you sit still for that long, let alone learn a new application?

Ask yourself some basic questions

Ask yourself: What’s the best environment for you to learn in?

Doesn’t exist? (Then make it your pilot program and design it in Revit!)

Ask yourself: How important is it that your instructor be fun or at least interesting? Making the information and learning process interesting?

Make sure you are challenged – it is important that the instruction isn’t too easy (you’ll be bored) or too hard (you’ll feel defeated and give up.)

Look for a challenge worthy of your effort – one that will maintain your interest and engage you.

Get your hands dirty.

Work in the program as you go.

And be prepared. Have everything you need at hand before class begins.

Your instructor ought to be prepared as well – for students who are quicker or slower at picking-up the software – and be prepared to make adjustments accordingly.

Ask yourself: How do you know you’ve learned the program?

Having endured the tutorial many only mean you can produce what you were told to do in the tutorial.

Real projects have many more nuances.

The best way to know whether you’ve learned something?

Its very old school.

Take a test.

“To Really Learn, Quit Studying and Take a Test” found that students who read a passage, then took a test asking them to recall what they had read, retained about 50 percent more of the information a week later than students who used two other methods.

“One of those methods — repeatedly studying the material — is familiar to legions of students who cram before exams. The other — having students draw detailed diagrams documenting what they are learning — is prized by many teachers because it forces students to make connections among facts.”

But don’t take my word. Read the blog post and its over 320 comments.

Ask yourself: How do you know you’ve learned the program?

Teach it.

Those who are fortunate enough to attend training are sometimes asked to go back and teach those back in the office who did not, could not or would not attend training.

No better way to learn than teaching. If given this opportunity, jump at the chance.

Teaching BIM to others is a great opportunity to discover just how well you learned – and retained.

Turn off distractions including smart phones (you can leave this blog on.)

Kids might be able to study algebra while posting on Facebook.

You? Not so much.

In The Power of Mindful Learning, Professor Ellen Langer suggests that all of the all-nighters we pulled in college were for naught.

Why?

According to Langer, real learning takes place in a “mindful” environment, one that provides a context for the subject we are studying and allows us to bring something of ourselves into the process.

Make your training an extension of you.

Know what motivates and what de-motivates you.

Know why you are learning and have some sense about how far you want to take it.

Know who you are doing it for. As with anything you’re going to indulge time and effort in, you’ve got to own it.

Not only the tool but the process.

 

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Filed under BIM, BIM expert, BIM instructor, BIM trainer, education, modeling, process

36 Arguments for the Existence of BIM

After riffing in this blog for over 18 months on the subject of BIM and Integrated Design, and after conducting extensive research for my book by the same name, I’ve become convinced that the world of design and construction is made up of two kinds of people:

1. those who see BIM as an evolutionary tool and

2. those who see BIM as a revolutionary process.

Or in more familiar terms – despite this blog being vendor agnostic – there are

1. BIM atheists and

2. BIM apologists.

One doesn’t need to be a person of faith when confronted by the fact that their copy of Autodesk Revit Architecture 2011 takes up 560MB of space in their hard drive.

And one doesn’t need to be an angel to long for the day when we’ll free ourselves by computing in the cloud.

The thing is, no one uses BIM.

Not really.

And no one learns BIM.

They learn, use and implement software.

I can see and touch Revit. I can only imagine, envision and sermonize about BIM.

I can laud the praises of BIM to high heaven.

But only ArchiCAD, Revit, Bentley and Vectorworks can deliver results.

So what then does BIM do?

Ask yourself this: If there was a BIM then why wouldn’t ArchiCAD – that has been around for decades – have been called a BIM program?

ArchiCAD was 3D and object-oriented and building-product modeling.

ArchiCAD 14 may be as close to heaven as some of us will ever get. But it was never BIM.

To look at how BIM is defined you wouldn’t necessarily think it exists.

BIM is 100% aspirational. Something that may happen, that we can wish will happen.

But isn’t happening now – not now, nor any time soon.

BIM is faith-based as much as it is virtually-based.

How can this be?

Here’s how:

  • More than half of what it says it does nobody is doing.
  • More than half of BIM’s benefits aren’t being recognized.
  • More than half of BIM’s promises, it doesn’t do yet.

If we were to base our beliefs on facts, on Evidence-based BIM, the evidence is scarce.

All rise and turn to page 12,236,489 of Wikipedia. Let’s read in unison:

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is the process of generating and managing building data during its lifecycle. BIM is a digital technology and a business process for life-cycle facility management, from concept thru disposal.”

Addressing the building’s lifecycle was deemed today in SMARTBIM and Reed Construction Data’s webcast Lessons in Integrating BIM “the Holy Grail.”

Unfounded and like the holy grail, unfound.

“BIM provides the potential for a virtual information model to be handed from Design Team (architects, consulting engineers, etc.) to Contractor and Subcontractors and then to the Owner, each adding their own additional discipline-specific knowledge and tracking of changes to the single model.”

The potential? BIM has…the capacity…the possibility. Even likely, but may not come to pass.

“As computers and software become more capable of handling more building information, this will become even more pronounced than it is in current design and construction projects.”

Not there yet.

“BIM goes far beyond switching to a new software. It requires changes to the definition of traditional architectural phases and more data sharing than most architects and engineers are used to.”

Still not there yet.

Interoperability of all and for all – through the creation of IFCs – is the goal.

You get the idea…

BuildingSMART describes the BIM model as a “single operating environment.”

As appealing as that would be, very few – if anyone – today would consider working off of a single model a good idea.

Six years ago Jim Bendrick of Webcor Builders wrote: “What building information models allow us to do that we couldn’t do effectively before is what Stanford University’s Center for Integrated Facilities Engineering (CIFE) calls Virtual Design and Construction (VDC). In a nutshell, this is the use of models coupled with analysis and simulation tools to prototype the building on the computer—to simulate the building, its performance, and its construction before breaking ground.”

BIM for testing and building simulation is still a ways off.

My goal here isn’t to shake your faith in BIM, nor to confirm its existence, but to help make you a believer in the power of BIM.

Can BIM do all we say it can? Does BIM live up to its potential?

How long must we argue for BIM’s existence?

Revit and ArchiCAD exist. I can see them (and feel their presence) on my hard drive.

Whether or not BIM exists, in moments of transcendence, we who labor away at our BIM models all feel we are working at, for and toward something beyond ourselves.

And this ought to be enough.

At least for now.

BIM is our best hope.

BIM is our best chance.

BIM is the right way to design and construct buildings.

BIM is the best way for us to work together, compatibly, civilly, toward mutually shared outcomes.

I don’t know how it’s likely to go better.

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Filed under BIM, defining BIM, Integrated Design, modeling, process