Tag Archives: Integrated Design

6 Qualities That Make Architects Ideally Suited to Lead Collaborative Integrated Teams

leadersIn order to effectively lead collaborative teams, architects would do well to downplay possessing specialized knowledge. Knowledge acquired in school and practice should be thought of as the price of admission, not their “Advance to GO” card, as so many on the team in this connected age have access to and share this same knowledge. Along with specialized knowledge, as a professional duty of practice, architects will also need to reevaluate the role of professional judgment, design intent, responsible control, direct supervision, and serving as the hander-down of rulings in the shape-shifting required from working simultaneously on collaborative teams.

Recognizing that nothing incites a non-architect’s derision, ridicule and ire swifter than to start a sentence “The architect is uniquely qualified to…” here are six qualities that make architects ideally suited to lead collaborative, integrated teams:

1. Architects can lead collaborative teams by tapping into their ability to maintain two or more opposing thoughts until an amenable solution arises. Roger Martin’s The Opposable Mind, on the problem-solving power of integrative thinking, describes the human brain’s ability “to hold two conflicting ideas in constructive tension.” Like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s test of a first-rate intelligence as “the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function,” architects need to become even more comfortable working with and maintaining two or more opposing thoughts earlier in their careers. Architects famously can simultaneously maintain two lines of thought – e.g. their own and their client’s; their client’s and that of the public-at-large; the paying client and the non-paying client; the 99% and the 1%; the circumstantial and the ideal; science and art; reason and intuition; evidence and the ineffable; HSW and aesthetics; practical and dreamer. In an interview with the author, Phil Bernstein described the difference between young designers and older designers as the ability to manage an increasingly larger set of variables: “When I was working for Cesar Pelli, that was one of the amazing things about him – he could keep so many things in his head and he could balance them and weigh one against the other, and he could edit out what he called the systematic generation of useless alternatives. He would prevent us from going down that avenue.”

2. Architects are problem identifiers. Not only problem solvers, architects recognize that identifying the right problem to solve is often 80% of the solution. Frequently, the problem assigned is not the one that truly requires addressing. Architects work to make sure that everyone is focused on the most pressing, pertinent problem.

3. Architects see the big picture. Solution-oriented engineers sometimes have a difficult time seeing the forest from the trees. Malcolm Gladwell in Blink called this ability to see information in its wider context coup d’oeilcourt sense or “giss,” the power of the glance, the ability to immediately make sense of situations. Architects, by the end of their formal training, have begun to develop this ability, by thinking laterally and simultaneously – not linearly. Neither exclusively right- nor left- – architects are whole-brain thinkers. In the midst of prolonged analysis, architects can help to keep things whole.

4. Architects draw by hand, mouse and wand. Creatively ambidextrous, flexible and agile, architects are not stuck on any one means of communication or delivery. Architects make the best use of available technology to get the point across. Because architects envision what is not there, they help bring nascent ideas to life. Today, we cannot talk of leadership without the technology. We lead from the technology and the tools we use. In this way, architects lead collaboration from the middle by leading from the model.

5. Architects can lead collaborative teams by thinking like other team members, anticipating their concerns and questions before they arise. Architects see through other’s eyes, empathize and understand what is important to others. They have both deep skills and wide wingspan breadth. Architects are the only entity who serve not only the paying but non-paying client (society-at-large.) In trying to predict the consequences for any course of action, the architect needs to anticipate the responses of each of the integrated team members. To do this, an architect must know enough about each discipline to negotiate and synthesize competing demands.

6. Architects don’t lead collaborative teams because of their specialized skills, technology know-how, or privileged knowledge, but rather because of their comfort with ambiguity and uncertainty. Architects are best suited to lead collaborative teams by being able to extrapolate from incomplete information, and won’t let the lack of complete information stop them from moving forward.

The architect leading collaborative teams has implications for education in that independently trained professionals are inclined to remain independent in practice. According to NCARB’s contribution to the NAAB 2013 Accreditation Review Conference (ARC), over 80% of architects rated “collaboration with stakeholders” as important/critical, yet only 31.5% of interns and recently licensed architects indicated they had performed collaboratively prior to completion of their education program. This would need to change.

Let the Team be the Architect

The single most important issue confronting AEC leadership is, as Michael Schrage asked, how to pose problems and opportunities in forms that will elicit and inspire a collaborative response. Consultant Ed Friedrichs describes this as the ability “to inspire an entire team of participants to collaborate, to contribute the best they have to offer, in order to bring value to a client.”

Concerning collaborative teams, leaders need to ask of themselves – as well as prospective hires – are you the glue or the solvent? If architects are to be respected as leaders, their challenge is to communicate with their collaborators as equal partners in design.

In his book Architecture by Team, CRS’s William Caudill wrote: “The so called ‘great man’ approach must give way to the great team approach. From now on the great architects will be on great interdisciplinary teams.”

That was written in 1971. Buried on page 288 is the title of Chapter 109:

“Let the team – designers, manufacturers and builders – be the architect.”

So let the team be the architect, and the architect be the facilitative leader. And act soon, for we may not have another 40 years to see this out.

This post is an excerpt from Randy Deutsch’s article How We Can Make Collaboration Work: How architects can decentralize rather than be marginalized in the Jan-Feb 2014 Trends issue of DesignIntelligence journal.

Read and visit DesignIntelligence.

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

An Integrated Design Strategy for Every Man, Woman and Child

“The concept of integrated design is key to a sustainable future and ultimately quality of life,” 
Laura Lee

Just as Finith Jernigan’s Makers of the Environment envisioned the average American benefitting from building information modeling (BIM),

Professor Laura Lee’s vision for South Australia reads like an integrated design strategy for every man, woman and child throughout the world.

While her publication was prepared as a series of recommendations to the South Australia government, upon reading it, it soon becomes clear that she had more universal applications in mind.

With her report, “An Integrated Design Strategy for South Australia – Building the Future,” Lee envisions a framework for uniting sustainability, behavior, materials and the external environment into a whole that satisfies the needs of people, environment and place.

I’ve read the report from beginning to end a couple times now and am happy to share my, however haphazard, impressions.

The excellent introduction acknowledges the potential – and urgency – of the state of the world today: the perfect set-up for what’s to come.

It answers why anyone would want to read this report – and, as importantly, why now.

Instead of just writing about design, the booklet (as a product) itself is a perfect argument for the value of good design.

Little touches – such as the global quotes in blue and local quotes in orange – and larger ones: that it is so well written, edited, illustrated and like all great works of art, all-of-a-piece.

Like the integrated design process itself, the report contains myriad voices (a strategy and conclusion I also came to for my own book on Integrated Design.)

From now on, all Integrated Design books really ought to be crowdsourced.

In fact, Lee had 15 partners (represented by 24 people) in the residency, only 4 of whom were designers, which if it was a challenge, doesn’t show.

The report leaves you with the impression that it was created by a singular sensibility in that it has one, compelling voice throughout.

Stevie Summer’s diagrams are intelligent and truly mesmerizing: the perfect accompaniment for the text.

The natural imagery of many of these diagrams – conch shells, DNA – are intertwined & interrelated with the book’s theme and text. Stunning.

Professor Lee invested so much time in the diagrams because she is interested in raising visual literacy.

Interestingly, it soon becomes apparent that the process in conceiving the report served as a model for those she worked with along the way for the integrated design process itself. What an effective way for those she worked with to ‘get’ integrated design.

One of the most appealing attributes of the report is that the overall tone and word choice is strangely non-academic. This is a report anyone could love.

Lee, for example, quotes Dan Pink where she could have quoted Roger Martin. In fact, the report verges on being populist were it not for the fact that the whole thing is so smart.

Because this does not read like research, one can see how it will be implemented (and not – like so many reports – sit on the shelf.)

By the time the reader gets to the end, they’ll recognize that the very tenets of integrated design went into the making of this brilliant and beautiful document.

The tone throughout is optimistic, forward-looking: exactly what it needs to be. No need to threaten readers with impending apocalypse (it doesn’t.)

Most reports and books fizzle out near the end – having spent all their ammo in the first half (if not the first chapter.) Here, some of the best, freshest information and diagrams occur in the recommendations section of the report, near the end, what Professor Lee calls “the heart and the future of the work.”

Many, many more people need to read this report.

Professor Lee is in the process of making an Integrated Design Strategy guidebook with roadmaps for each recommendation along with best practices, weblinks, and case studies and a website with PDF downloads that hopefully will be available soon.

Read the final report of Professor Laura Lee, Adelaide Thinker in Residence in 2009.

Read about Martin Seligman and other thinkers in residence http://www.thinkers.sa.gov.au/ including Prof. Laura Lee http://www.thinkers.sa.gov.au/thinkers/lee/

Read more about Laura Lee, FAIA http://www.thinkers.sa.gov.au/thinkers/lee/who.aspx

Check out these videos featuring Laura Lee, and also this and this video

And look into the integrated design work of other thinkers and makers, including Renée Cheng, Daniel Friedman, Frances Bronet, Ann Dyson, Billie Faircloth, Kiel Moe and many more.

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Filed under craft, craftsmanship, education, Integrated Design, people, process, writing

BIM and Integrated Design: The Week in Tweets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Filed under BIM, BIM organizations, collaboration, construction industry, education, Integrated Design, Integrated Project Delivery, IPD, process

First Fire, then the Wheel, and now BIM

Owners didn’t ask for BIM.

Nor for IPD.

Never did.

Not then and not now.

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

BIM may be purpose-built,

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

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

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

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

We said we can give you that.

And we did.

Or so we thought.

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

We gave them BIM and IPD.

To us – they’re the same.

One leads to the other.

But to them – there’s a difference.

And that difference takes the form of a gap.

A gap we’ve yet to fill.

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

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

Go on.

Take them out of the box for the owner.

Give them a demonstration of how they work.

Put in the batteries and turn them on.

BIM first.

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

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

We gave them fire.

And we gave them the wheel.

Only they don’t know that yet.

Because we haven’t told them.

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

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

Folks,

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

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

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

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

What they do.

And who they do it for.

Design professionals and constructors are visual types.

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

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

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

And not by berating with bullets and numbers.

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

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

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

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

But one of trust, gut and intuition.

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

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

Until owners no longer have to ask for them.

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

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

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

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

Building Knowledge in Architecture

Using books as floatation devices is nothing new.

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

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

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

That is what I hope to accomplish with this review.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You had me at Introduction

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

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

Book, wait no more.

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

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

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

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

Man Measuring the Clouds

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

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

Foqué then asks:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Creation of New Knowledge through Practice

The book is organized in two parts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key quotes:

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

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

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

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

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

Beautiful.

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

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

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

He concludes this explanation:

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

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

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

He asks: How can we reverse this decline?

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

Reinventing the Obvious

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

The case goes something like this:

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

Here’s the problem with this argument:

It doesn’t need to be made.

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

And then proceeds to fall into this same trap.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And more recently, they have been reviewed here.

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

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

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

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

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

There are people out there who do just this.

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

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

Eminently Tweetable

The strengths of the book overwhelm its few weaknesses.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See below for how critical Twitter is to this discussion.

Read or drown

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

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

And that is some accomplishment. For any book.

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

Here are 3 reasons:

For all of the reasons I have stated above.

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

And for this reason:

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

Do so and you’ll surely drown.

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

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

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

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

But you will do so anyway.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To you alone.

That is because this book has been written for you.

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

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

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

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

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

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BIM and Integrated Design’s Greatest Hits Vol. I

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                            Contact Satellite Press Office: +44 (8) 20 6701 521

BIM and Integrated Design Blog Celebrates One Year

CHICAGO/WASHINGTON/LONDON/NAIROBI/DELHI – 11th July 2010 – Thousands of visitors, new and old, join the BIM and Integrated Design blog as it celebrates one fabulous year.

“If you have visited this site before – thank you for doing so,” says blogger Randy Deutsch AIA, LEED AP. “I hope you have found your time here to be of value – and hope you’ll come back.”

“As always, I welcome unconstructive feedback.”

Dropping the pretense of the self-congratulatory press release, opting instead for the more user-friendly italics while maintaining the guise of third-person narrative, Deutsch adds:

If you are new to the site – you are in for a treat.

Here are some highlights from the past year. Think of it as BIM and Integrated Design’s Greatest Hits Vol. I

The way that these top 5 posts were selected is similar to Ask.com’s AnswerFarm™ technology – their proprietary method of crawling and extracting the most popular results from hundreds of thousands of sources including user generated content, FAQ pages, news/blog articles, and structured/semi-structured data. From these results, this would be the clear winner.

Because the technology is proprietary – I overrode the process, scrapped the results and selected my own top 5 favorites. Let me know if you have a favorite post of your own.

Whatever the process, I hope you enjoy BIM and Integrated Design’s Greatest Hits Vol. I

5th Place: Can You Teach an Old Dog New Tips and Tricks? here

4th Place: T-Shaped BIM here

3rd Place: The Surprising Civility of Primal IPD here

2nd Place: Switch or Stitch? A formula for saving the architecture profession, construction industry and maybe even the world here

and

1st Place: My So-Called Parametric Life here

If you think you may have arrived here inadvertently or by mistake – do not move. Call a friend and have them pick you up. While you wait for their arrival, you may want to look here or here or for a real oldie, here for fun.

Here’s to another great year together! Thanks again for visiting and for your invaluable contributions to this site’s success.

PS Readers often ask me if I ever repurpose material from this blog. No, I tell them, I do not. For proof, look here, here, here, here, here, here or here and here.

Oh, and here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

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Fixing our Gaze on BIM and Integrated Design

I want the unobtainable. Other artists paint a bridge, a house, a boat, and that’s the end. I want to paint the air which surrounds the bridge, the house, the boat, the beauty of the air in which these objects are located, and that is nothing short of impossible.

–          Claude Monet

I’ve come across a book that I’d like to share with you. A science book that has some pertinent lessons for those working in BIM – or seriously considering doing so.

In Fixing My Gaze: A Scientist’s Journey into Seeing in Three Dimensions, by Susan R. Barry with a foreword by Oliver Sacks, Barry describes how miraculous it is after 50 years to suddenly be able to see in 3D for the first time.

The memoir is a fascinating account of Sue Barry’s acquisition of stereo-vision at an adult age.

In the book she reveals step-by-step how this new 3D world was revealed to her. And shows how her experiences are not, in the end, unique.

Barry, a neuroscientist, was born with her eyes crossed and literally couldn’t see in all three dimensions. The author, a professor of Neuroscience, remained unable to see in 3D for most of her life.

She was missing depth perception, that visual ability to judge what is closer and farther away.

Everything appeared flat to her.

Snow, for example, would appear to fall in a flat sheet in one plane in front of her.

Barry tells the story of how she was able to learn from others how to successfully correct her vision as an adult.

And how she recovered depth perception when she was 50 after visual therapy with a developmental optometrist.

In her late 40’s Barry was referred to an Optometrist not far from the University where she taught and did research. The Optometrist evaluated her and determined that with a prescribed program of vision therapy, Barry might gain binocular vision. After some hard work, Sue Barry was able to see in 3D.

The book asks and answers: If deliberate effort can rewire sensory processing at 50, what other astounding feats might our brain manage with the right training?

11 Lessons from Fixing My Gaze

“…the brain is a marvelously plastic organ that can continue to change its wiring and thereby its function throughout our adult life.”

–          Eric Kandel, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine

Read Fixing My Gaze if interested in learning how the brain can adapt and change at any stage of life due to the plasticity of the brain through training.

The story of “Stereo Sue” regaining her depth perception at age 50 and astonishing the medical community was first told in a 2006 article by Oliver Sacks in the New Yorker.

Hear Sue’s story on NPR Morning Edition

Or read on for 11 LESSONS that can be extracted from the inspiring book.

Lesson 1: While working in 2D made us all bystanders, working in BIM puts you in the middle of things.

In the book, a visit to Manhattan surprises Barry with skyscrapers that no longer appear as a flat backdrop.

Before acquiring 3D vision, Barry’s 2D existence felt as though she was looking into a snowfall.

From the outside. On the outside, looking in.

Whereas once she trained herself to think in 3D, she felt herself to be within the snowfall, among the flakes. She found herself surrounded by and immersed in life.

Working in BIM once again makes us participants in the design and construction process.

Lesson 2: The Eye in BIM

While the “I” stands for information, could it also stand for “eye?”

Appreciate the many ways that BIM allows us to see things that we were formally unable – or unwilling – to see.

Lesson 3: The Vision Thing

Hindsight, Insight, Foresight.

It’s not for nothing that our projects are located on a site.

The book teaches us that Sue, like many others, who want to experience their worlds in 3D find ways to work around their uncoordinated vision.

The brain does amazing things to compensate for visual deficiencies and retraining shows what’s possible.

Just like those of us working in BIM, by coming up with makeshift, piecemeal workarounds.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

 Those who have a ‘why’ can bear with almost any ‘how.’

–          after Viktor Frankl

Lesson 4: Just a Tool

To say BIM is just a tool is like saying the eye is just a tool.

It’s the profane, rational thing to say.

And it’s wrong.

When you take in their complexity and all that they can accomplish – it is easy to see that both the eye and BIM are more than tools.

We ought to treat them that way.

Barry says that those with 2D vision and those with 3D vision speak different languages.

BIM and sight are processes – not singular things. The more dimensions we afford them, the easier this is to see.

Lesson 5: Fixing our Gaze

As with the three-letter acronym BIM, the three-letter word “fix” has many definitions.

Fix can mean – in need of repair, as in fixing it

To restore by replacing a part or putting together what is torn or broken.

The implication is that we’re broken in some way and we need repair.

To be fixed.

There’s a great deal in our profession and industry that requires fixing.

Your role working in BIM is to fix what doesn’t work. Don’t limit yourself to just one dimension or definition of what it means to work in BIM.

There’s the common use of fix to prepare or cook, as well as to situate: put something, somewhere firmly.

To fasten, to firmly attach, as to a cause.

Hitch your wagon to a star.

–          Emerson.

But to fix can mean to fix our gaze.

To set it, stop it, position it.

On what is important.

Lesson 6: The future is closer than you think

Like the Far Side Cartoon of the car side mirror filled with the huge bug eye with the caption that read: Objects in the mirror appear further than they actually are.

In transforming ourselves from 2D to 3D – from thinking in 3D to communicating in 3D – and with it the attendant realities, there’s no more faking it – in BIM there’s nowhere to hide.

Our models are warts-and-all stories.

Closer to reality than to fantasy, threatening to our associative sensibilities.

Lesson 7: Seeing in 3D takes courage

We don’t give ourselves enough credit.

If author Barry could acquire stereo-vision – the ability to see in 3D – so can you, no matter your role or career position.

Those of us brought up on 2D CAD are committing to fixing our gaze and acquiring stereo-vision.

Going from analog-vision of hand drawing and mono-vision of 2D to stereo-vision of working in 3D.

The book tells a story of perseverance in overcoming obstacles. Obstacles we all must overcome in moving from 2D documentation to 3D design and virtual construction.

Like the author, find and identify success stories of your own.

Lesson 8: We take seeing in 3D – and working in BIM – for granted

Barry had to learn to see in 3D, something that most of us take for granted.

We as design professionals and those working in the construction industry suffered from our own lack of depth perception.

In that we’re not looking at our tools deeply enough.

By viscerally identifying with her 2D life and appreciating her 3D discoveries, as readers we’re able to understand a little of the 3D world to which we’re currently blind.

As with Flatland, many of us still find ourselves seeing in only 2 dimensions, as though we were stuck in CAD.

Ask yourself: When did you first realize that you couldn’t see in 3D?

Architects see in 3D from near the beginning of their careers. What they don’t necessarily do is work in 3D.

All you have to do is think of people like Sue Barry to realize:

You have advantages others do not have and take these for granted.

The book covers the science behind our vision, particularly how it is that we see in three dimensions. Science that we take for granted.

If you have acquired the software.

If you have implemented BIM.

If you have mastered it.

Take a moment now to honor yourself.

You have accomplished something great and profound.

Something that will not only help you, your firm, the contractor and owner but also the profession and industry.

When you learn to work in BIM you are helping others achieve their goals.

Mastering BIM – as you help yourself – you are helping others.

Lesson 9: Depth Charge

From the time of the Renaissance, artists have made use of tricks and cues to create a sense of depth to endow their art work with a sense of life.As BIM endows a stalled profession with a sense of life.

Working in 3D ought to invigorate our senses and shake up our composure.

Professor Barry’s renaissance with her newfound abilities will motivate you to be a serious student again in all it is you still have to learn.

Working in architecture becomes exciting again.

Give yourself the gift of depth perception.

Lesson 10: Keep Things Whole
 
Once, seeing – and working – in 2D was all we knew.
The equivalent of working in little bim without taking the additional dimensional leap into BIG BIM.

Working in BIM completes us as design professionals.

BIM is the quality that gives the architect dimensionality.

Design plus construction. Tool plus process. BIM plus IPD.

Look for that hidden wholeness.

Lesson 11: Knowing vs. Doing

Perception is not something that happens to us, or in us. It is something that we do.

–          Alva Noe, Action in Perception

Today the 3D world of BIM is revealed to us in myriad ways.

In articles, webinars, classes, training sessions, in blogs, in books, in the office.

But knowing BIM is not enough.

Sue, a neuroscientist, knew practically everything there was to know about seeing in 3D or stereopsis, but her world and joy of seeing changed profoundly when she experienced 3D vision.

Knowledge of BIM is not enough – you have to experience it for yourself.  

 

 

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The Surprising Civility of Primal IPD

When we come one by one to the quadrille at the four-way corner, we are who we are at our best, bowing, nodding, and moving on.

Verlyn Klinkenborg

After you. No, please, after you.

Have you ever approached a 4-way intersection at precisely the same time as another driver and played that game of Who Goes First?

That’s precisely what happened the other day at a crossroads just outside of Chicago.

As will sometimes happen, an Architect, Engineer, Contractor and Owner pulled-up in separate vehicles to a 4-Way intersection.

It doesn’t matter what they were driving.

The Architect drove a Porsche 911.

But what they were driving doesn’t matter to the outcome of the story.

The Engineer in a pre-Ford Volvo, the Contractor was in a Ford pick-up and the Owner in a 700 series BMW.

So, as the architect’s custom-painted lobster red 2-door sports coupe Carrera revved its engine…

But it really, really doesn’t matter what they were driving.

Or that the owner picked-up his Beamer in ‘09 for $46,500. [Lucky bastard.]

What matters for this story is that, as would have it, they all arrived at the intersection at precisely the same moment.

And somehow had to come to an agreement on how they would proceed.

Fortunately, all four were present at the intersection – for while three were otherwise engaged with their iPods, two were texting and one was on their cell – they could all nonetheless see each other’s gestures, eyes and facial expressions.

Rules of the Road

Now, the default rule to establish the right of way at intersections – where you defer to the person on the right – doesn’t apply here since they were all right of each other.

The “person on the right goes first” rule would result in everyone moving forward at once. No good.

Normally, whichever vehicle first stops at the stop line has priority.

Rules of the road would tell you that if two vehicles stop at the same time, priority is given to the vehicle on the right.

If three vehicles stop at the same time, priority is given to the two vehicles going in opposite directions.

What about when 4 vehicles come to a stop at the same moment?

This is the really amazing thing.

You ready?

If four vehicles stop, drivers use gestures and other communication to establish right-of-way.

That’s it.

There is no way around it.

Gestures and communication.

Given all of the advanced technology available to us today – the fact that our vehicles are really just giant computer chips on wheels – the only way four people in modern civilization can proceed to move forward from such a situation is to…talk.

To each other.

Ideally, openly. Transparently.

And gesture. Communicating however one can manage.

For this is the new rule of the road:

You’ve got to go primal to proceed.

BIG IPD little ipd

In the past, the A, E and C would have deferred to the Owner to lurch forward into the intersection – to go first.

But that was before everything changed.

For today it sometimes feels like if you were to wait for the Owner to make the first move you might be sitting there, at the intersection, for a long while.

A long, long while.

And so others at the intersection – and this junction in time – are taking matters into their own hands.

They’re finding workarounds.

They’re finding ways to gesture themselves forward even if all the legal and contractual ramifications aren’t all hammered out.

For all four to proceed, it doesn’t matter who goes first, so long as someone does.

That someone has got to make the first gesture.

It’s all about leadership.

Primal leadership.

Move – do something – while keeping everyone informed, and the others will follow.

Call it little ipd.

In IPD, all 4 (AECO – count ‘em) arriving at the table day one of an Integrated Design project are all equals.

At the start – before the contracts are drafted and signed – in order to proceed, in order to move forward, they must defer to their higher selves. Their humanity.

While it is easy for the foursome to get caught up in legal language and a focus on contracts, it is best to think of the arrangement at first as a social contract rather than a strictly legal one, whereby each team member desires to maintain order and so subjects themselves to a higher order – or higher law – in order to maintain this order.

Before the team grows beyond its initial core, and everything gets all complicated, there’s a magical moment at the start of every project when the team members defer to simple etiquette.

Social etiquette.

The Four-Way Team

After the last post was inspired by a Neil Young song, it is only natural that this one references a Crosby Stills Nash and Young live album: 4-Way Street.

CSNY, a quartet, with their 4-part harmony. Working together, acknowledging the other players in the band.

CSNY, the first true folk-rock super-group formed by four guitar-playing singer-songwriters from other popular bands.

[David Crosby came from The Byrds; Stephen Stills and Neil Young came from Buffalo Springfield; and Graham Nash was a member of British pop band The Hollies.]

Much like the mix and match make-up of an Integrated Design team where it is more important that team members have BIM experience than the loyalty of a longstanding relationship.

And like OAC, they were originally a threesome: CSN.

AECO, where a quartet is more harmonious than an OAC trio, and the architect and engineer are distinguished and independent of one another.

For, when we come one by one to the quadrille at the four-way corner, we are who we are at our best, bowing, nodding, and moving on.

Afterword

Here I’ll repost in its entirety After You, a short essay from the New York Times and the source of this last quote, by our very own 21st century Emerson/Thoreau, Verlyn Klinkenborg.

Recently, I have been considering the four-way stop. It is, I think, the most successful unit of government in the State of California. It may be the perfect model of participatory democracy, the ideal fusion of “first come, first served” and the golden rule. There are four-way stops elsewhere in the country. But they are ubiquitous in California, and they bring out a civility — let me call it a surprising civility — in drivers here in a state where so much has recently gone so wrong.

What a four-way stop expresses is the equality of the drivers who meet there. It doesn’t matter what you drive. For it to work, no deference is required, no self-denial. Precedence is all that matters, like a water right in Wyoming. Except that at a four-way stop on the streets of Rancho Cucamonga everyone gets to take a turn being first.

There are moments when two cars — even four — arrive almost simultaneously. At times like that, I find myself lengthening my own braking, easing into the stop in order to give an unambiguous signal to the other driver, as if to say, “After you.” Is this because I’m from the East where four-way stops are not so common? Or do most California drivers do this, too? I don’t know. What I do know is that I almost never see two cars lurching into the middle of the intersection as if both were determined to assert their right of way.

I find myself strangely reassured each time I pass through a four-way stop. A social contract is renewed, and I pull away feeling better about my fellow humans, which some days, believe me, can take some doing. We arrive as strangers and leave as strangers. But somewhere between stopping and going, we must acknowledge each other. California is full of drivers everywhere acknowledging each other by winks and less-friendly gestures, by glances in the mirrors, as they catapult down the freeways. But at a four-way stop, there is an almost Junior League politeness about it.

And when the stoplights go out at the big intersections, as they do sometimes, everyone reverts to the etiquette of the four-way stop as if to a bastion of civilization. But there are limits to this power. We can only gauge precedence within a certain distance and among a very small number of cars. Too many, and self-policing soon begins to break down. But when we come one by one to the quadrille at the four-way corner, we are who we are at our best, bowing, nodding, and moving on.

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(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) BIM, LEED and Collaboration

And as I walked on
Through troubled times
My spirit gets so downhearted sometimes
So where are the strong
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony?
Sweet harmony.

(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding by Elvis Costello 

In much of the Northern hemisphere Spring will be soon upon us. Along with it comes the tendency to let go of our self-defining and self-improving resolutions (those not already long abandoned) and tend to our less bookish, self-incriminating pursuits as we head for the great outdoors.

I’m glad I caught you before you head outside for this post is a last-ditch effort to get you to prepare your bed for spring.

Metaphor alert

This is a blog post, not a PhD dissertation – we’re allowed to give it away. In fact, you can be too subtle in a blog.

For those immune to metaphor, I’d like you to take a moment to consider embracing the future. Your future. Our future. In this equation:

Winter = Our Now

Spring = Our Future

Because our future is almost here…Are you ready?

I didn’t think so.

That’s OK. There are some easy things you can do right now to help yourself along the (r)evolutionary path.

All levels – individuals, design professionals, firms, organizations, profession and industry – serve to gain from the widespread use of BIM and Integrated Design process enabled by it. But there is one tier that benefits the most from the advent of these processes.

It’s not the owner and it’s not the contractor. And it’s not even the architect, engineers or consultants.

Who is it?

In an interview for my book, BIM + Integrated Design (Wiley, 2011) a lecturer, architect and technologist had this to say about the best place to start:

If you don’t start at the bottom tier, which is that person sitting behind a machine, trying to work through a problem – if the benefits don’t accrue very directly at that level; the rest of the stuff is just theory. The direction to move has to be a top-down thing. The agreement about philosophical alignment has to happen at the supply chain level, or even at the firm level. But the benefits – the day to day working benefits – have to start on the desktop and flow up.

That’s you.

It is up to you.

It all starts with you.

It all begins with you.

Not with the other guy.

Not with someone telling you, you got to do it

(including me.)

Not waiting for the other guy to do it first.

Not waiting for your boss to tell you, you have to do it.

Not your shrink or your executive coach or management consultant.

It’s you.

If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome. Anne Bradstreet 

Our Last Weeks of Winter

Spring is our awakening – or epiphany – our realization that, to survive

  • we need to work collaboratively
  • we need to share tools such as BIM
  • we need to work more efficiently and leaner
  • we need to work more sustainably as in LEED

Let’s queue the sun.

But first, let’s take advantage of these last weeks of bitter cold and snow to address some inside work.

Before the outdoor work that lies in store.

Winter is the time of promise because there is so little to do – or because you can now and then permit yourself the luxury of thinking so.  Stanley Crawford 

There are a few places in the country where it is already too late to start any BIM initiatives, delve into IPD case studies or study for the LEED exam – where Spring has already arrived. That’s too  bad.

Now is the winter of our discontent. Shakespeare 

Where I live, just north of Chicago, it might as well be December but for the sun that has been coming out more frequently and sticking around longer – reminders that the time is ripe for studying, researching, reading, training, learning, inquiring, considering, contemplating, scrutinizing, musing, mulling over, meditating and speculating. These are all winter words. Who’s going to hit the books in April?

Sometimes our fate resembles a fruit tree in winter. Who would think that those branches would turn green again and blossom, but we hope it, we know it. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 

A Contractor’s State of Mind

There is a visceral fear amongst architects that contractors are taking over.

With the newly graduated lining up at contractors’ doors, with lively construction-related online forum discussions, contractors have embraced change and are reaping the rewards.

Architects – in these very same online forums – in comparison sound hurt, tired, fearful, victimized, at the end of their rope.

Architects worry that they will become no more professionals in their own right than consultants to contractors, the small-d design in design BUILD.

This is ironic, given that contractors are in a similar situation – in fact, as some would have it, worse – in that they are anywhere from 9-12 months behind architects in terms of when their work (constructing buildings and projects that architects plan  and design) returns.

So why don’t things sound dire for contractors?

Resources? Absolutely – contractors have depth.

Numbers? They have ‘em in droves.

But you know it’s something else.

Mindset.

And testosterone. From all those steak lunches at Carmichael’s.

Mindset…and gumption.

Changing Seasons/Seasons of Change

Architects need to change

  • contractors and others are eating their (steak) lunch
  • design-build appears to be the delivery method of the future
  • the old way of doing things doesn’t work any longer

Architects don’t want to change

  • uncomfortable, like to do what’s familiar
  • feel that working faster, leaner will lessen quality
  • believe  that design will get the short shrift/scant attention

Architects have to change anyway

  • Learn and master working in a BIM environment
  • Work collaboratively and openly with all in IPD
  • Be stewards for the built and natural environment

How is this change going to come about?

  • Survival instinct
  • Survival skills
  • Ingenuity/creativity that comes naturally to the architect

Start now – today.

How? A few suggestions – a few resources – to get you started.

In the depths of winter I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer. Albert Camus

Don’t just do something, sit there

It is about taking your career into your hands

Recognizing the things you don’t have control over – building cycles for one.

Focusing on the things you can do something about: get your LEED accreditation.

Not ready to start studying for the LEED exam? Start by reading an inspiring book on sustainability – just to get yourself motivated. As Architecture Record editor Robert Ivy featured in this month’s letter from the editor as well as relayed on Twitter the other week:

Reading David Owens’s book entitled Green Metropolis. Essential reading for anyone thinking about, or designing for, the urban condition. 

Start by teaching yourself Revit, download for free from Autodesk’s assistance program – Navisworks, Ecotect – yours for the asking. Get Paul Aubin’s latest book on Revit. Not a Revit fan? Invest in the scaled-down and MUCH cheaper ArchiCAD START edition 2009 available for ‘Entry Level’ BIM (suggested retail price under $2,000.)

Read – really study – the IPD Case Studies. Learn the process.

What’s to fear about collaboration?

I have always believed that every project I have worked on over the past +25 years has been improved by the input of others.

In recent years Pritzker prizes have been awarded to solo architects Glenn Murcutt and Peter Zumthor – two architects that have primarily devoted themselves to smaller projects working alone  – perhaps sending the wrong message about lone designers with the attendant need to control every detail at a time when we ought to be supporting collaboration.

Scott Berkun touched on  this topic in his breathtakingly good The Myths of Innovation. In the section entitled The Myth of the Lone Inventor:

“Everyone knows that Neil Armstrong was the first person on the moon. But how many people helped him get there?” Berkun goes on to list the crew, mission-control staff on the ground, people who made the complicated parts needed to construct Apollo 11, managers, designers, planners. Berkun continues:

“The numbers add up fast. More than 500,000 people worked on the NASA effort to put a man on the moon. For Armstrong to succeed required contributions from an entire metropolis worth of people.”

Architects are right to be concerned – about loss of relevance, about not being invited to the dance.

But one thing they need not fear – on the contrary ought to drop what they’re doing right now and embrace with both arms open wide – is collaboration.

Collaborating is the way things will get accomplished from here on out.

Tools to get you started

This is your last chance to catch-up on some marvelous sources on the subject of collaboration.

Collaboration Presentations and articles

Learn about how to select the right tools for internal and external collaboration – watch this presentation.

See Collaborating with Contractors for Innovative Architecture to better be able to evaluate the pros and cons of collaborating, including insurance and legal issues.

Become familiar with the myriad types of collaborative project delivery – including integrated project delivery – the most collaborative of all.

Collaboration Books

The Culture of Collaboration by Evan Rosen showing how collaboration creates value in business. Rosen consolidates the latest ideas on collaboration and brought them together into an informative, well-illustrated, easy to read and practical book. Aimed at anyone interested in fostering collaboration in their workplace.

How to Make Collaboration Work by David Straus offers five principles of collaboration (Involve the Relevant Stakeholders, Build Consensus Phase by Phase, Design a Process Map, Designate a Process Facilitator, and Harness the Power of Group Memory) that have been tested and refined in organizations everywhere, addressing the specific challenges people face when trying to work collaboratively. Each can be applied to any problem-solving scenario.

Collaboration How Leaders Avoid the Traps, Create Unity, and Reap Big Results by Morten T. Hansen With approx. 37,000 books on the topic of Collaboration sold on Amazon.com this one is considered by some to be “the” book on the topic. Hansen bases his analysis in an economic analysis of when collaboration creates value that includes not only a project’s benefits but also the costs of collaboration and the cost of foregoing alternatives. Hansen is realistic about collaboration’s limits and attests that over-collaborating id a potential hazard: “Bad collaboration is worse than no collaboration.” Great book – a must-read. And as books go – a beautiful book to behold.

Not convinced? “This book represents the culmination of fifteen years of some of the best research on the topic of effective collaboration. It does not matter whether you lead a business, conduct an orchestra, guide a school, operate a hospital, command a brigade, run for public office, direct a government agency, coach a sports team–every complex enterprise requires collaboration.” –Jim Collins, Author, Good to Great and How the Mighty Fall

Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration by Keith Sawyer is completely different from the previous books. A practical, inspiring book about how innovation always emerges from a series of sparks—not a single flash of insight. Based on his experiences with jazz ensembles and improv comedy. For Sawyer, creativity is always collaborative–even when you’re alone.

And finally, The Collaborative Habit by choreographer Twyla Tharp. Life Lessons for Working Together. It’s a light book, airy, with as much white space as words – you could read it in an hour. But the stories are potent, the lessons memorable. You really get the sense here that she has lived every word of this book. These are hard-won, and heart-worn, lessons that will live on with you long after you put the book down. I recommend it.

So where is “the harmony, the sweet, sweet harmony?” Ask Elvis Costello – who collaborated to great effect with Twyla Tharp on a piece called Nightspot. You see, the harmony – it starts with you.

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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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