Tag Archives: Integrated Design

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

(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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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

The Future of Practice

I had the opportunity over the weekend to attend end-of-semester case study presentations by 6 teams of IIT graduate students taking part in the College of Architecture’s inaugural Master of Integrated Building Delivery degree program. Headed by Assistant Professor John Durbrow, the course was taught by Aaron Greven, owner of AG Design Works with one foot in architecture and the other in construction, where he masterfully mediates and positively influences the two.  IIT’s program is one of 60 or so BIM and/or IPD programs currently offered at universities worldwide. For a few hours in the lower level of Crown Hall on a sunny Saturday I witnessed what will no doubt be the future of practice.

The course in general utilized lectures, presentations by practicing professionals and off-site field trips to investigate new and emerging technologies and develop a detailed understanding of IPD. The students who presented had been studying integrated practices and the technology that facilitates collaboration across a broad range of building projects and participants. They developed case studies and collected unique stories of 6 projects’ successes and challenges working with BIM in integrated and collaborative processes, including the Tucson Convention Center Addition and Hotel; Children’s Memorial Hospital, Chicago; Crate & Barrel, Toronto; Optima Camelview Village Scottsdale, AZ; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; and the University of Chicago – New Hospital Pavilion.

All-in-all the presentations were informative, describing research gathered on a wide range of topics related to the practice of architecture and the construction of significant buildings at all scales.

Here are some of my take-aways and observations from the presentations – with an eye on the big picture:

  • Content Representation I. If the AEC industry is experiencing a fundamental change in how services are delivered, and BIM and IPD represent paradigms in how these services are communicated and delivered, one might question the wisdom of delivering all the presentations in PowerPoint, perhaps the most conventional of means.
  • Content Representation II. If the medium is the message (Marshall McLuhan) and the message is the new work processes require collaboration – then IPD presentations ought to reflect this collaborative work effort. Team members ought to at least be aware of the material fellow classmates are presenting so as not to repeat – or at least to build-on – their content. In lieu of standard linear presentations where each student speaks at the lectern for 6 minutes and 40 seconds and then hands-off to the next student (the inapt image of silos comes to mind) a more imaginative – and consistent – (re)presentation might mirror the give-and-take of collaborative teamwork. Listing of project facts could be placed in a comparison matrix, approximating the parametric wonder of the technology that enables the IPD process. At the very least the presentations ought to appear integrated: fonts, style, etc.
  • Content Integration. If Integrated Project Delivery (IPD,) or here referred to as Integrated Design, is a project delivery approach that integrates people, systems, business structures and practices – then the content of the presentations ought to be integrated into a working whole.
  • Production Efficiencies. If IPD is to be a process that collaboratively harnesses the talents and insights of all participants to reduce waste and optimize efficiency through all phases of design, fabrication and construction – then presentations on the subject ought to be exemplary examples to this effect. If fundamental changes in the process of delivering buildings are about to revolutionize the structure and practice of architectural design, when given 15-20 minutes to present – a talk on IPD that continues on 50-100% over the time limit can’t possibly serve as a proponent of the process. If anything, it makes a mockery of it. A presentation that runs over in terms of schedule can justifiably be seen as wasteful the instructor’s, classmates and visiting critic’s time. If the habits, attitudes, mindsets and practices required of IPD cannot be mastered in school – how should we expect them to be practiced in the real world?
  • Role and Identity. To its credit, the program recognizes that the role of the architect at the realization of current industry changes is not yet clearly defined, but it is recognized that it will be significantly altered from that of today. This critical, and admittedly quite scary, topic was discussed – obliquely by the presenters, more directly between the presentations – and perhaps ought to have been addressed directly as one of the observations made of each project presented by the presenting team. IIT has introduced the new curriculum to ensure that graduates are prepared for a rewarding and significant role in the emergent state of the profession – whatever that role may be.

Architecture school curricula are already overburdened with course requirements. How on earth are they to fit in courses involving the learning of BIM, let alone a thorough working understanding of IPD, where students are currently required to complete their degrees with demonstrated ability in Speaking and Writing Skills, Critical Thinking Skills, Graphics Skills, Research Skills, Use of Precedents, Human Behavior, Accessibility, Sustainable Design, Program Preparation, Site Conditions, Building Materials and Assemblies, Construction Cost Control, Architectural Practice, Leadership, Legal Responsibilities, Ethics and Professional Judgment, Life Safety, Building Envelope Systems, Structural Systems, Environmental Systems and Fundamental Design Skills amongst others?

Here’s how. By placing the BIM model at the center – and learn the various areas of concentration working from the model. What better way to garner a deep and meaningful understanding of structures, environmental systems, sustainability and so on than from the building model that you have virtually conceived and built?

As for IPD, since Building Information Modeling is already the primary communication basis of IPD, course content such as collaborative work practices, leadership, legal and ethical responsibilities, can be covered much as construction-related topics are: from the model. Additionally, students currently learn several of the hallmarks of Integrated Design, including Learning Collaborative Skills (the ability to recognize the varied talent found in interdisciplinary design project teams in professional practice and work in collaboration with other students as members of a design team,) already an NAAB requirement for graduation, as well as Building Systems Integration (the ability to assess, select, and conceptually integrate structural systems, building envelope systems, environmental systems, life-safety systems, and building service systems into building design.)

Degree programs, such as IIT’s still nascent but growing one, builds upon what is already a requirement of every graduating student and provides a promising glimpse at what will come to be in the years ahead.

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

BIM + Integrated Design

I’m starting a blog devoted to my current focus on the impact of new technologies on firm culture and workflow in the design professions. The writing of the blog coincides with my writing of a new book, also entitled BIM and Integrated Design, to be published by John Wiley & Sons in 2011.

Here in this blog I will explore some of the same general themes as the book – only in a less formal, more conversational and exploratory, fashion. The emphasis here – as with the book – is on people and not technology or value propositions per se, except to the extent that they impact the people who use them. And by people I mean…you.

You are encouraged to chime in whenever you find something of interest – whether something you agree with or something that irks you. BIM and Integrated Design are both, like a good blog, collaborative and interactive tools.

You are the ones helping to make them into the transformative technology and process that they are. And likewise, you are the ones who can continue to build the dialogue as we work together to help make this a better world – one building, one bridge – at a time. Bon Appetite!

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Filed under BIM, Integrated Design, people, process, workflow