Tag Archives: Decade

BIM’s Great New Frontier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This, right now, is our moment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is our moment. Our moment will soon pass.

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

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

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

What came of this better life?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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BIM and Integrated Design’s 17 Most Pressing Issues for the Decade

“The most fruitful and natural exercise of our mind, in my opinion, is discussion. I find it sweeter than any other action of our life.”

— Montaigne

Before we can all work cooperatively and compatibly, sharing information and models, working together for common goals, several pressing questions must first be addressed.

These are the most critical BIM, IPD and LEED issues I am currently wrestling with. Your insights here would not only be appreciated – they’re necessary – to keep the ball on track and moving forward. Are these the most important questions to address as we start 2010? Are there more urgent inquiries requiring our attention first?

BIM User Interface and Learning Curve – this may seem preposterous for those who have been working in a BIM environment since the stone age but newcomers and those still wrestling with stair design and object creation are left to ask: who designed this software (engineers, marketing teams?) why is it designed this way (to mesh with our product line, not human users like you,) and what are they going to do about it? For these reasons BIM has been more readily adopted by emerging professionals than by those in mid-career.

BIM and Gender – at the risk of coming across as sexist – it is a widely known observation that males have an easier time visualizing 3D models and spaces. “A male advantage in the ability to generate and mentally manipulate spatial representations of geometric and other figures has been well established in studies conducted in North America and in a host of European nations.” Results from these studies support male superiority in 3D spatial cognition independent from culture.  Anyone that has been privileged to spend even 5 minutes at Laura Handler’s blog will think this to be ludicrous, but does BIM, unlike CAD, put female design and construction professionals at a disadvantage, requiring additional effort on their part to achieve the same – or better – results?

Designing in BIM – currently BIM software is overly answer-dependent, requiring too much exacting data at a time when designers need to be loose, flexible and open-ended with their questions to be most effective. Conceptual and Schematic Design will continue to be worked-out in Rhino and Sketch-Up until BIM learns to truly think like an architect – as it purports to – and less like a contractor. If the architect’s core competency continues to be comfort with ambiguity, BIM will need to make room for uncertainty, mystery and other vagaries of creation.

Learning BIM and Integrated Design – the topic of my last two posts: Where BIM, IPD and LEED ought to be learned? In school, in the workforce, or on our own? With school curricula already overburdened and slow to change, is BIM and IPD work processes, mindsets and attitudes something best left to each student and emerging professional to pick up on their own?

Will Integrated Design Succeed only by Coercion? Or instead, altruism? For IPD to work must we resort to force? Will it only be utilized as a delivery method and BIM-enabled process when the Owner demands it? Must Integrated Design wait for attorneys and insurers to work out the details? When will participants willingly, proactively – w/o coercion – work with others in a cooperative manner? What does the ultimate pay-off need to be to see this succeed?

IPD Contractual Issues need ironing-out before industry-wide adoption – or require a delivery method rethought from scratch? If the owner, contractor and architect are to share information, risk and reward – the stakes need to be more evenhanded. Currently, the architect has the most to lose when considering that they are taking-on more of the responsibility, means and methods (normally contractually prohibited to the design team) and financial risk – territories outside their jurisdiction and expertise not to mention comfort zone. Next the contractor and lastly, the owner.

The Role of Midcareer Professionals Working in the BIM Environment – will they find their place sitting alongside BIM operators, applying their experience, willing to mentor-up and mentor-down? An especially critical question for those that have hoped to make it to retirement without having to take-on a whole new technology and way of practice. Will these more experienced professionals – with the unique ability to see the big picture and minutest detail all at once – be willing and able to adopt and adapt to this new environment?

The Impact of the Recession on LEED, BIM and Integrated Design Adoption and Implementation. Those recently laid-off – or underemployed – will they be able to seek and receive adequate training in BIM and IPD processes? Will this effort translate to jobs? If not immediately put into practice, as so often happens to the newly trained, will these individuals lose all they have gained and in doing so, lose hope as well? Will these candidates opt to find work, if and where available, in non-traditional practices or even outside the profession and/or industry?

Will Architects be able to Adapt to the Changes – of BIM technology and work processes – so effectively adopted by contractors in the last year? Will this decade see the architecture profession dissipate, morph into something else, or grow in resolve despite – or even because of – these changes? Will contractors take the lead – creating some kind of hybrid practitioner? Will architects rise to the occasion – taking on a leadership role in the process, returning to some version of the Master Builder, or instead be willing and able to participate in a new formation of the Master Virtual Builder team?

Who Will Lead the BIM and Integrated Design process? Architects, Contractors or Owners – or some new combination of these entities? Repeat clients get the benefits of working with the Integrated Design process, while newcomers and first-time Owners don’t. Who will master the communication skills necessary to describe, explain and justify a process that potentially can benefit all involved?

What Will the Next New Technologies and Work Processes Be? And will architects become disciplined and proficient enough with the current technologies and work processes to be able to identify, adopt and implement the next big thing – such as design-by-computation, drawing-free design – on the horizon, in  an effort to bring greater results for the owner and public-at-large?

BIM and LEED – Will harnessing the power of BIM and the integrated work process enabled by it ultimately result in a positive impact of the built environment?

Who Owns the Rights to the BIM Model? Who is responsible for the information contained in the model? When does the hand-off occur between the architect and contractor who often need to refine the model for use in construction as well as for use in clash-detection and coordination? Does a hand-off even need to occur? How can architects ask this question without resorting to protection of ownership and territory – helping the team move forward and reach its goals together? How can architects be encouraged to share their models with all involved? Who will make the first move?

The Question of Insurance – Still in a “wait and see” mode, insurers are supposedly awaiting the results and outcomes of the first IPD contracted projects and how they hold up under real life conditions. How long will this take and will someone introduce a workable workaround to bypass this impediment to progress?

One Model ideal vs. Many Models – For a truly integrated project – the one comprehensive model project, shared by all parties, would seem to be ideal. File size can be dealt with quite readily – and interoperability is on its way. That said, must we resolve to live in a multiple model world?

Existing Buildings, BIM and LEED – What impact, if any, will the widespread reuse and restoration of our existing structures – and infrastructure – have on improving energy use and the environment? And what role will BIM and Integrated Design play in this purview? Will design professionals be the keepers of the data and metrics serving as evidence of BIM, IPD and LEED’s impact on owner’s next projects?

How and When Will Architects Get Along? With everyone, not least of which, each other. Architects need to relearn how to play well with others and together. Whether that means going back to what Louis Kahn called “Volume Zero” or kindergarten, relearning to share, communicate orally and verbally, accept some risk, trust and collaborate ought to be front and center concern and focus for every architect willing to enter this bright new world before us.

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Filed under collaboration, design professionals, education, Integrated Design, Integrated Project Delivery, IPD, modeling