Tag Archives: IPD

BIM and Integrated Design Quotes

Looking for a good quote to get you moving? In search of some instant inspiration? Sometimes words can provide this more readily than images.

During research for my book, BIM and Integrated Design: Strategies for Architectural Practice (Wiley, 2011) I came across some pretty inspiring people and kept a record of the things they had to say.

And while the best quotes remain in the book, some quotes didn’t make it into the final copyedited manuscript.

Not all of these mention BIM or Integrated Design directly, but nonetheless they’re here to help motivate you in your pursuits.

Hope you find these editor’s cuts as inspirational as I do.

Let me know if you have a favorite quote – even one of your own. Thanks!

Evolutions such as BIM have the potential to facilitate—or further complicate—integrated work.

Julie Gabrielli and Amy E. Gardner

If only one book were to be written about BIM, it might have “DON’T PANIC” printed in large uppercase letters on the front cover.

Pete Zyskowski

BIM still continues to be very much at the forefront of our professional consciousness. This is hardly surprising, since BIM has been universally acknowledged as a ‘disruptive technology’ for the AEC industry, much more than CAD or even computing ever was, and it is causing us all to rethink our processes and identities.

Lachmi Khemlani

A tree growing out of the ground is as wonderful today as it ever was. It does not need to adopt new and startling methods.

Robert Henri

All human societies go through fads in which they temporarily either adopt practices of little use or else abandon practices of considerable use.

Jared Diamond

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Attributed to Mark Twain

Evolution of BIM implementation came in parallel with willingness to collaborate and share project information, the move toward integrated practice that is much talked about in the industry.

Phillip G. Bernstein

Vision without execution is a hallucination.

Thomas Edison

A good idea is about ten percent and implementation and hard work, and luck is 90 percent.  

Guy Kawasaki

It’s never too late to be who you might have been.

George Eliot

The biggest thing about BIM is that it’s moving us back to interdisciplinary work.[i]        

Kathleen Liston

 Most firms begin their exploration of BIM doing comfortable 3D visualization and move systematically through more complex uses; the most advanced users integrate their project approach using BIM throughout the supply chain. Almost by definition, more advanced usage – such as analysis and production – requires collaboration throughout more of the project team.[ii]

Phillip G. Bernstein

The future belongs to the integrators.

Ernest Boyer

People don’t resist change. They resist being changed!

Peter Senge

If architects do not take the leadership role on integrated practice, they will cede this turf to another entity.[iii]

Barbara Golter Heller

Followers are more important to leaders than leaders are to followers.

Barbara Kellerman

Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.

Victor Hugo

The most common criticism leveled at the process of architectural education is that it does not adequately prepare students to be fully participating members in architectural practice. Students invariably do not gather all the skills necessary to create a work of architecture independently and must, therefore, endure a lengthy term of apprenticeship.[iv]

Carlin MacDougall

There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those that may do well under the new. (Changing the “order of things” is difficult because the people who are certain of what they will lose will oppose it. And the people who are uncertain of their gains won’t support it.)

Machiavelli

We can’t become what we need by remaining what we are.

Max Dupree

Now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite quote?


[i] Liston, Kathleen, AIA TAP BIM Awards Jury Comments, 2009

[ii] Bernstein, Phillip G., BIM Adoption: Finding Patterns for a New Paradigm, Design Intelligence, 2006

[iii] Heller, Barbara Golter, http://www.di.net/articles/archive/red_business_blue_business/,  Red Business, Blue Business, 2008

[iv] MacDougall, Carlin, A Marriage of Ideals and Technology, www.di.net, 2001

 

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Filed under BIM, collaboration, defining BIM, Integrated Design, Integrated Project Delivery, IPD, people

System Requirements for IPD to Flourish

We all know with each release of software the computer system requirements increase.

Our computers must get more powerful as the software does.

And also as the work processes become more collaborative, with more information sharing taking place.

This is certainly the case when working in Building Information Modeling (BIM).

But how about for Integrated Project Delivery (IPD)?

In what ways do we need to grow more powerful as the 64-Bitlike process becomes more open and connected?

  • What is our capacity?
  • What are our limits for understanding and empathy?
  • What are our system requirements for working in BIM and integrated design: for ourselves, our teams and organizations?

Are we going to go through a laborious and time-consuming download of these tools and processes into our own work lives only to discover that we’re missing a key video card equivalent of attitude or mindset?

What system requirements need to be in place for IPD to take place?

  • For an integrated team made up of key stakeholders to gel early and often?
  • For team members to show all their cards, knowledge and expertise concurrently and on many levels?
  • For risk to be collectively managed and mutually shared?

7 Performance Recommendations

Here are the minimum system requirements for IPD to flourish:

1. Collaborative attitude and aptitude

A capacity and willingness to work with others and strong collaborative skills to back it up. Begins with each team member, not the project or at the organization level. Capacity to work compatibly as a team.

2. Discretionary emotional energy and enthusiasm

The passion, excitement and dedication that team members have available to give freely to the project and fellow teammates. Attempts to mandate this will lead to passive-aggressive undermining behavior. More on this here.

3. Authentic presence

Team members exhibit the capacity to maintain an authentic, non-defensive presence throughout the project. Honoring each other’s POV.

4. Climate of openness

Team members commit to telling the truth – and hearing what others have to say, even when it conflicts with one’s own beliefs or findings. Create a safe environment for concerns, issues and problems to be discussed and resolved.

5. Multidisciplinary mindset

Aspire to become a new breed of polymath – not a one trick pony – blending technology (BIM, next-generation analytics, cloud computing, sustainability, social networks,) creativity, innovation, comprehensive building knowledge with a multidisciplinary mindset.

For more on this see my article in the upcoming May/June 2011 Technology issue of DesignIntelligence, BIM Beyond Boundaries

6. Self-awareness

Each team member’s capacity to handle whatever comes their way – stress, challenges, failure. Embrace change.

7. Meaning making

Deliver not just data but meaning.

Process information for others. Not everyone on the team will be as fast an information processor as you (the human USB port.) Discover and deliver data that is relevant to the project and team.

Now it’s your turn: Can you think of any performance requirements not shown here? You’ll do all of us a world of good by letting us know by leaving a comment below.

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

Is IPD dead?

Le IPD est mort. Vive le IPD!

So where are we with Integrated Project Delivery?

Is IPD losing steam?

Yes.

The evidence – however anecdotal – is threefold.

First, Google Alerts containing the term are sparser and less frequent.

There are fewer content providers, with rare exceptions, writing on the topic.

Back in January 2010 AIA issued IPD Case Studies.

These provided what everyone was seemingly eagerly awaiting:

An examination of real-world, completed building projects that used Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) in as pure a form as possible.

Projects illustrating – showing, not telling – the successful application of IPD in a variety of building types and scales and in diverse regions of the country.

These were followed by dozens of posts announcing the release of the IPD Case Studies.

Followed soon thereafter by an inexplicable silence.

R.I.P. 2010. Case (studies) closed.

Since then, there have been what seem to be fewer and fewer activities related to IPD.

Which brings up the second reason:

No doubt due in part to the economy.

In the doldrums (where doldrums = dumpster.)

Face it: there are just plain fewer opportunities to use the IPD delivery method.

Even if they were building, there is a tendency for already risk-averse owners – who need to lead this process – to go all conservative on us in tough times.

Translating as conventional design-bid-build.

Without educated, intelligent, willing owners to drive its use – not only is IPD dead, but so is building, and by extension, architecture.

Hedging on IPD

My blog (and book) were deliberately called BIM + Integrated Design, not BIM + Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) for two reasons.

To call attention to the fact that Integrated Design is not only a delivery method but a collaborative work process enabled by technology.

But also because I was hedging.

Hedging on the fact that IPD would one day give way to something else.

Some other way of working together, one with a different name.

But why hedge?

With the exception of fellow Wiley author George Elvin,

Who remembers the term Integrated Practice?

(Markku, no cheating.)

Exactly.

R.I.P. 2007. Case closed.

What would we truly miss if IPD would go away altogether by, say, tomorrow afternoon?

Wiped from our collective memory, Google searches and treasure trove of resources.

The whole shebang wiped out as though a giant D/B meteor hit it front and center.

Where it hurts.

Gone forever are all the IPD seminar presentations you never bothered to see.

The Next Great Delivery Method

If not IPD, what then?

Let’s be honest.

The basic tenets – the fundamental principles that form the basis of IPD and NGDM (Next Great Delivery Method) – are what made IPD something special.

And perhaps difficult to enforce contractually.

You: “The contractor’s not being trustworthy!”

Attorney: “Umm…?”

Principles that have been around a lot longer than 2007.

Because they are not only part of IPD’s DNA (t/y Zigmund Rubel) but because they are part of our own DNA.

Familiar to everyone by now, they include:

  • ·         Mutual Respect and Trust
  • ·         Mutual Benefit and Reward
  • ·         Mutual of Omaha
  • ·         Collaborative Innovation and Decision Making
  • ·         Open Communication
  • ·         Organization and Leadership

As well as others perhaps unique to IPD:

  • ·         Early Involvement of Key Participants
  • ·         Early Goal Definition
  • ·         Early to Bed
  • ·         Intensified Planning
  • ·         Appropriate Technology 

As to this last one, while it can include communication software and management tools, what is meant by Appropriate Technology is a not so subtle reference to

BIM.

Why?

Because BIM is most valuable when shared across disciplines.

But at many firms there is no sharing.

BIM is used for narrow purposes rather than for the benefit of the project.

What can be done about that?

Scrap it, Sell parts

The third and last indication that IPD may be losing its way was triggered by something said at a panel discussion I recently moderated at the NTAP conference in Washington DC.

With Phil Bernstein FAIA, Howard W. Ashcraft Jr and Jonathan Cohen, FAIA.

Cohen, who conducted the research and authored the report for the AIA Case Studies, said:

“I don’t think ‘pure’ IPD will predominate by 2015 – but all of the project delivery methods will have learned something valuable from IPD.”

Cohen continued:

“Should we not find ways to apply elements of IPD to CM@Risk, Bridging Design-Build, etc? Owners, particularly in the public sector, are asking for this.”

What is a Lamborghini without an engine?

An Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato without wheels?

I was a bit surprised, even taken-aback (full disclosure: also shocked and dismayed,) by the NTAP panelist’s assertions that IPD will not catch on whole cloth.

Even among those who created it.

Not that IPD is DOA.

Not that when we search “ipd” Google will henceforth ask: do you mean “iPod?”

But that there are perhaps only parts of IPD that work.

In a recent post, Hafez Daraee states,

“Integrated Project Delivery (‘IPD’) has been the topic of much discussion over the past several years. Despite being heralded as revolutionary, IPD has not become the gold standard in construction project delivery; it remains just a great idea that is sparingly used.”

But due to the economy and dearth of imagination you could likewise say:

Architecture has not become the gold standard in building; it remains just a great idea that is sparingly used.

Heck, for the past 12 months I have been sparingly used.

Daraee concludes,

 “IPD is gaining a foothold but more slowly than it should, and the economic upheaval of the last few years has not yet ended. Until contractors believe they will be more efficient and more profitable by using IPD, it will be hard to convince them to take a chance and bet on IPD.”

There might be something to say after all for all the IPD-ish and IPD-lite projects being pursued.

Perhaps we ought to scrap IPD and sell off the parts?

IPD is dead. Long Live IPD.

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

Imagine

Imagine.

A design tool.

For early concept work.

That will allow you to design and do quick analysis.

Via the cloud.

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

In ways that were difficult or impossible before.

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

In just a few clicks.

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

Imagine

You have at your disposal

– today –

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

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

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

With a light computer footprint.

That doesn’t ignore our economic competitiveness.

That got us back to basic value added activities.

That focused on keeping productivity on an upwards trajectory.

Imagine you had this program.

Right here, right now, to play with.

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

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

BIM LT…Less Filling

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

When retirement is within their sights.

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

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

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

BIM reduced to its bare essentials.

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

That let users get their hands dirty

– faster –

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

A lighter, more agile, less imposing user interface.

Love Means Never Having to Say Vasari

Imagine

An easy to use standalone application.

Built on the same technology as a BIM platform.

An on-ramp gateway for BIM.

Designed for students and young designers.

Anyone who considers himself or herself an architectural designer.

Anyone interested in 3d parametric modeling.

Anyone looking for ways to understand performance-based design.

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

Seamlessly exporting to eQuest, Energyplus, and gbXML.

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

While designed for students and young designers,

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

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

These impediments have been removed.

Obstacles cleared. Challenges neutralized.

With Vasari, Less is finally More

To simplify, something had to go.

So detailed BIM modeling tools were removed.

No walls. No windows. No doors.

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

Everyone else, stick around.

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

Imagine.

Concocted in a lab by an integrated team.

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

Software architects using something approximating design architects Integrated Project Delivery.

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

IPD in everything but name.

Developing a product that’s BIM at its core.

Revit at its core.

Import and export Revit files directly.

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

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

Imagine

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

And cloud-based integrated energy and carbon analysis.

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

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

Imagine

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

Watch it here.

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

Download it here.

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

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

Being Perfectly, Completely and Utterly \Tran(t)s-ˈper-ənt\

Kaffee: I want the truth!
Col. Jessep: [shouts] You can’t handle the truth!

A Few Good Men, 1992

Transparency is your only option, because the tribe will smell artifice.

Seth Godin, in an interview with copyblogger discussing Tribes.

Doc: You know what they say: People in glass houses sink sh-sh-ships.
Rocco: Doc, I gotta buy you, like, a proverb book or something.

The Boondock Saints, 1999

Have you ever been in a situation when someone just comes out with it and tells you exactly what they want?

Me neither.

Actually, that’s not entirely true.

It was just funnier than writing “I have.”

But I’m just being completely transparent with you.

Actually, that’s not entirely true.

Entertaining you is more important than informing you.

But only here, in the opening of the post.

That way you’ll stick around – without realizing it – until you’re informed.

Gotcha!

That’s admittedly not being transparent.

But I’m only being transparent with you.

Being transparent – perfectly, completely and utterly transparent – can be like the magician who gives-away his tricks.

It might be informative – but not as much fun.

Let Me Make One Thing Perfectly Clear

This post is about transparency.

But if I was perfectly transparent with you I would inform you that it’s also about selling books.

But first a bit more about transparency.

Not transparency as a dominant consumer sensibility –

We all know when others aren’t being transparent with us,

And sense when we are being sold a bill of goods –

But as a way to build trust in integrated teams.

How Much Transparency is Too Much Transparency?

Do you, for example really need to know that there’s that hidden (t) in the word \Tran(t)s-ˈper-ənt\?

I could have lived without that.

[Though I will be sure to pronounce it hereafter.]

Isn’t transparency just a trendy term meaning trust or integrity or honesty?

Yes. It was trendy in 2004.

Transparency was the business buzzword du jour back in 2004.

Back when people said things like du jour.

And even at that time it was recognized that blogs and wikis were tools for transparency.

So where have we been all this time?

As with so many things, the AEC industry is only catching-up with transparency now.

In addition to perceived inefficiencies in the current delivery model and renewed scrutiny on costs and budgets some of the most significant drivers of change in the construction industry include lack of trust, too much conflict and a desire for transparency.

BIM streamlines the design process by really encouraging transparency, which encourages coordination, which reduces RFIs and waste. Likewise,

IPD is a clever solution to the tough organizational and contracting problems faced in today’s market, relying on careful participant selection, continuing dialog and transparency. And finally,

Lean construction tries to increase transparency between the stakeholders, managers and trades in order to know the impact of their work on the whole project while PMI doesn’t consider transparency in its methods.

So Why Are We Still Talking About It?

It may seem obvious, but even on integrated design teams we want different things.

We may have signed an agreement stating that we’ll all work for the good of the project, sharing in profit or loss, gain or pain.

For better or for worse.

But the contractor is hard-wired to still want easy-in/easy-out of the jobsite.

And the architect – bless her – doesn’t want the design intent to carry through to the completed project.

Screw intent.

Let’s be perfectly transparent. (What’s with this “intent” anyway?)

She wants the design to carry through.

Period.

Not to mention there’s a long history of distrust and aggressive behavior between the various parties.

What You Need to Know

You need to know that you can trust your teammate.

That you’re all here to serve the project – in service to the owner.

That you have – first the project’s, then the owner’s, then each other’s and lastly your own  – best interests in mind.

You need to know if you’re going to pull your pants down behind the garage that they’re going to pull their pants down too and not just stand there pointing and laughing.

In public ridicule and shame.

You need to know that.

Open Book, Open Door

If you go open book, you need to know that they’re going to do the same.

And that their use of the phrase “open book” matches your definition – and understanding – word for word.

It’s really quite simple.

To restore trust, talk straight.

And carry a big stick.

To level the playing field, be accessible, accountable and don’t exaggerate, overstate

or conceal.

And don’t say you have an open door policy because your office doesn’t have a door.

7 Habits of Truly Transparent Professionals

1. The Truly Transparent know what they want.

2. The Truly Transparent are immune to artifice.

They hear what is meant, not what is said.

And they say it back to you in their own words.

Until you hear it.

And they’re not concerned about appearances.

They’re concerned about being understood.

3. The Truly Transparent are direct.

They’re bold without being off-putting.

And remember, being bold isn’t the same as being blunt any more than being direct is the same as being offensive.

Transparency isn’t the same as saying everything that pops into your head irrespective of your audience and their feelings.

We couch our impressions, observations and feelings in terms that we judge others can understand and handle.

It’s one of the ironies of our times that you can be more transparent by couching what you say than by just letting it all hang out.

4. The Truly Transparent appear to be fearless.

Especially in situations where they have to show all their cards.

5. The Truly Transparent say it like it is.

They don’t hold back.

They don’t mince words.

They pull no punches.

Or try to pull one over on you.

They don’t obfuscate with professional language.

They don’t use words like obfuscate or tendentious (especially tendentious.)

They don’t say “fenestration” when they mean “window.”

They don’t speak in academic talk.

They choose their words carefully.

But you only hear their meaning not the words.

And understand, along with Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., that a word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged; it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and time in which it is used.

They understand that.

6. The Truly Transparent are upfront with you.

They hide nothing.

Because they have nothing to hide.

7. The Truly Transparent don’t muddy the waters.

They’re crystal clear – don’t use double entendres.

Wouldn’t know a double entendre if it hit them.

They don’t tell stories and anecdotes where a “yes” will do.

They listen more than they say.

Trust – But First Conduct an Incredibly Technical and Detailed Background Check

In an interview for my forthcoming book (there he goes with his book again) I asked:

What would you suggest to an architect, when offered an opportunity to work on a project utilizing an integrated design platform – with shared risk and shared reward –  and their reaction is along the lines of “No way! Why would I risk my profit on someone else not making mistakes?” As in, “Why sign on to a project whose payoff relies on the other guy not screwing up?” Does it all come down to their comfort with risk – or is there something else going on here?

Here’s what the interviewee said:

 If I were advising them, I would tell them as part of the advisory board to conduct an incredibly technical and detailed background check of every person who’s going to be on this team. A complete due diligence: all the way back to what they were doing in college. Find out from other projects they’ve done, other owners they’ve worked with, other developers and architects they’ve worked with, how many suits they’ve had, what their story is. If there’s a red herring or a red flag, I’d want to be all over that initially. Would they be able to work together? If everyone sees it as a benefit to everyone involved, if it’s a requirement for my getting the job, then I’ll have to weigh it against other projects I may have going at the time and the market outlook. It seems like less of a headache if I can make it easier on myself and sign a contract that says this is what I’m responsible for, the heck with the rest of you. On paper, it looks fantastic. Get everybody to sit at the same table, hammer out all the details, so we can avoid some of the hassles that normally arrive later. I see tremendous advantages for being able to do it, if everybody trusts everybody at the table; you can save yourself a lot of trouble.

How to be Perfectly Transparent without People Seeing through You

My life is like a glass of water, transparent. – Skakira

How to be perfectly transparent?

Know your audience. Understand their needs – what it is that they are looking for. Then try to give it to them.

Be direct – no indirections – this is not the time for poetic license, metaphors or similes. Be concrete.

As Pablo Picasso said: Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.

That’s a good quote. Don’t use quotes where the truth will do.

They’ll appreciate you for it.

And trust you for it.

And to be perfectly transparent, being transparent isn’t always a positive thing.

As when Dean Koontz wrote that the manipulation that all politicians use on one level or another is so transparent.

So keep in mind that even bad behavior can be transparent.

“I don’t know if I can trust you.”

When someone says “I don’t know if I can trust you” – or more directly, “I don’t trust you” – what they are really saying is

I don’t believe you.

I don’t believe you’re being straight with me.

I don’t sense that you’re telling me everything.

What is it that you’re not telling me?

You’re not walking the talk.

Or the walk.

Not practicing what you preach.

It’s an alignment problem.

Your action and words don’t align.

How often do you take your car in to get its wheels aligned? Every 10,000 miles?

Interestingly, you don’t align your wheels at set increments of time.

So how do you know when to align your wheels?

It’s something you just know – and have to pay attention to.

You will know you need an alignment if your car pulls to one direction or if your steering wheel vibrates at any constant speed.

So look for signs that start to tell you that you’re pulling in one direction.

Believe me, people will let you know.

You might be inadvertently driving your team – and teammates – off-course, off the road, or – worse – under the bus.

So look for signs along the way. They’re there.

Is Complete Transparency Even Possible?

In a word?

How about 27?

Being transparent with our motives implies that before I can expose to you why I am doing what I do, I need to acknowledge it to myself.

That’s hard to do.

For instance, I was recently asked by a journalist why I blog (journalists talk with him – now will you buy the book?)

If I were completely transparent I would say I blog

  • To build an online platform – with followers – who will continue to visit my blog, prompt others to do so and when the time comes buy my book.
  • Or, to be completely transparent, I write my blogs to leverage the internet to move more books. But why move more books?
  • To be completely and utterly transparent – to get the next book deal. Oh, and a few speaking engagements in interesting places. Move up from coach to business class. And an honorarium…

This may be transparent – but none of this is entirely true.  These are the reasons I write and they are

  • To entertain
  • To inform or teach
  • To learn – from others, from the experience of delving into new topics
  • To inspire and motivate
  • To help
  • To express myself
  • Discover meaning, purpose
  • Because I am compelled to share

But how much do you really need to know?

With transparency are we at risk of TMI?

And as important, how much do we know about what drives us to do what we do?

In Drive, Dan Pink says we’re motivated by autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

Does that ring true for you?

You in the end have to judge whether I deliver on any of these bullets.

In other words, my being transparent about my motives may be immaterial to your take-away.

Your being entertained and informed.

In exchange for the time you spent here with me today.

I hope it was worthwhile for you – and that I lived-up to my promise.

Let me know (transparently, not anonymously.)

Who is to say that any of us know why we do what we do?

Malcolm Gladwell certainly demonstrated in Blink that few of us know what makes us tick.

And Daniel Gilbert in Stumbling on Happiness certainly proved that we have no idea what makes us happy.

In other words, trust – but keep your eyes open.

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Filed under BIM, Integrated Project Delivery, IPD, people

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

What are you doing on August 2, 2010?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No Book, No Review, No Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

In other words:

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

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

It’s one helluva story. Here goes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mastering Autodesk Revit Architecture 2011 Factoids

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

This much we know to be true:

The book runs 976 pages**

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You find coping mechanisms and plug-ins.

Patches and workarounds.

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

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

It is one of our core attributes and competencies.

That is what we do.

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

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

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

27 Even Better Reasons + 3 Bonus Reasons

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

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

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

1 Beyond Basic Documentation.

2 The Principles of Revit: Tools and UI.

3 The Basics of the Revit Toolbox.

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

4 Configuring Templates and Standards.

5 Managing a Revit Project.

6 Understanding Worksharing.

7 Working with Consultants.

8 Interoperability: Working Multiplatform.

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

9 Advanced Modeling and Massing.

10 Conceptual Design and Sustainability.

11 Phasing, Groups, and Design Options.

12 Visualization.

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

13 Walls and Curtain Walls.

14 Roofs and Floors.

15 Family Editor.

16 Stairs and Railings.

Part V: Documentation.

17 Detailing Your Design.

18 Documenting Your Design.

19 Annotating Your Design.

20 Presenting Your Design.

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

21 Revit in Construction.

22 Revit in the Classroom.

23 Revit and Virtualization.

24 Under the Hood.

25 Direct to Fabrication.

26 Revit for Film and Stage.

27 Revit in the Cloud.

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

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

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

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

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

DON’T WAIT

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

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

Click here and free yourself.

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

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

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

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

Don’t wait. BIM operators are standing by.

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

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

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

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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Filed under BIM, BIM expert, BIM trainer, construction industry, defining BIM, design professionals, education, Integrated Project Delivery, IPD

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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Learning to Be Roughly Yourself

From the moment you meet at the big table in the big room with the big team of stakeholders and fellow professionals, you’re there for one reason and one reason alone.

You’re an expert at something.

You didn’t get to where you are because you’re “well-rounded.” You’re there because of your deep skills, because you’re good at something. That something – whether it is in BIM management or BIM coordination, building design or building detailing – I wrote about in an earlier post.

For projects that were traditionally delivered – whether in BIM or not – that was well and good.

But it is becoming increasingly apparent that being an expert at what you do isn’t going to cut it in the BIM and Integrated Design world.

Moving forward, with BIM and Integrated Design, you are still required to present your best and highest self, working from the place of your core competency, however you – or those you work with or for – define that.

But just as importantly, while working in IPD, the person who shows up to the table needs to be a little less well defined. Something or someone closer to a rough approximation of yourself.

Why?

Because there – at the table – you’ll be wearing more than one hat. You’ll have more than one title and you’ll be playing several roles. In fact, your title and role when you enter the big room become blurred.

You’ll still need to be yourself and play your part as you always have – it’s just that your margins are a little less well defined, your guard will come down.

And the hard line that formerly defined you is perforated and permeable.

You will be able to do this because for the first time you’ll be able to – completely and unconditionally – trust those you are teaming with.

In BIM and Integrated Design you have to be more than just your role.

You have to see ideas, possibilities and actions from multiple viewpoints and perspectives.

And make a concerted effort to not only couch what you say with your audience in mind – something you have been doing for ages – but consider the consequences for your line of action when it still just a line of thought in your mind.

It is a higher order of operating that is expected when you are at the big table.

The other day at a BIM-IPD/RUG meeting, I listened as several design professionals discussed their concerns about where the profession and industry is headed – while each spoke from their own perspective.

That may be well and fine for CAD. But with BIM and Integrated Design there is a constant need to keep others in mind as one speaks. With one ear focused on what you are saying and another on the meta message – the message heard by others at the table, and what that message might mean for them, and why it is they are sitting there silent at the table, not participating. Perhaps they are bored. Or frightened or even threatened by what they are hearing. Or perhaps something is stewing inside that at any moment might bottle up and explode.

Whether you are working with an IPD Facilitator or not – and until that day comes – it is up to each of us to develop this ability – to facilitate ourselves – in ourselves.

And we are completely capable of handling this. While the brain is hard at work putting our ideas out there, or thinking up the next thing to say, the mind is aware – on another level – of the potential impact – positive, negative or indifferent – this will have on those seated around you.

One eye focused on the BIM model while the other is on the reactions of those seated around  the table – who together have the will and power to make your suggestion a reality.

You do this by thinking about your concerns from others’ perspectives – potential clashes before they even occur in Navisworks, when they’re still in your mind

Think of it as the virtual conversation you have before it is acted upon, becoming real. You’re having a VDC – Virtual Design Conversation.

To adjust our communication style to that of the group, you first need to assess and know your own. If unsure or what to re-assess, here’s a good place to start.

My wife used to work at a company where employees walked around with coffee mugs that announced their communication style and language preferences to each other – so that, with your coffee, you could adjust your speech to whoever you ran into in the kitchen or in the hall.

I myself am an expressive. If I just talk – without adjusting what I say to my audience of 1 or 20 financial types don’t know what to do with me. To negotiate, to sell my design ideas, I have to talk in their terms.

Is this disingenuous? No, nor dishonest. It is about communicating – what you need to do – to talk, to think, in other’s terms. We do this all the time with those we  are closest with – and professionally with clients and owners.

Phil Bernstein – in a recent AIA podcast with Markuu Allison – spoke of the need for those at the table in IPD to be roughly an architect, roughly a contractor, and so on.

It is about architects developing their inner contractors and contractors developing their inner architects.

It  is also about letting-go – of our self-limiting titles and roles.

Be who you are – yes.

Maintain your expertise – certainly.

But be open to others.

Architects in particular are used to playing many roles – or at least thinking like others – from the start of projects onward.

As a senior designer – in the go/no-go early phase of projects before the fee could support a full team – I would often have to play project designer, project architect and project manager until the project was given the green light.

In BIM and Integrated Design, it is almost as though you have to embody the characteristics of each of those at the table. And the list, in Integrated Design teams, can be considerable. Start with the core team of owner, contractor and architect – and move out from there.

In a recent LinkedIn discussion at the knowledge architecture/knowledge management KA Connect group for the AEC industry (which I highly recommend you join,) group and KA Connect founder Christopher Parsons suggested that

You’ll meet three types of people in a knowledge-driven firm – writers, librarians, and teachers. Writers create. Librarians capture. Teachers share. The teaching part, the commitment to systematically sharing, is what’s missing. We are two-thirds of the way there. We just need to finish the job. “Go the distance.” 

While this may be true for the way things have been done in firms up until now, with BIM and Integrated Design teams there’s no time at the table to be “just” a librarian, “just” a writer or “just” a teacher. You have to nurture the development of all three within yourself.

Perhaps James L. Salmon of Collaborative Construction (another LinkedIn group you ought to be a part of if you aren’t already) said it best when he said you achieve IPD in 3D by leveraging existing skills on a cross disciplinary basis.

How you learn to do this – cross-pollinate cross-discipline – is just starting to become apparent in the AEC industry. What we do know, though, is that it is becoming increasingly clear that this is a skill, an ability and talent we cannot survive without. Learning to be roughly ourselves – we must.

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BiM: Building intuition Modeling

While the architectural design process is largely an intuitive exploration, what happens to intuition in this rational, digital process we call BIM?

Most everyone in the AEC industry by now knows that the purpose of a building information model (BIM) is to generate and manage building data during its lifecycle. And that the model’s data – in the form of information – covers building geometry, light and energy analysis, geographic information, quantities for estimating costs and properties of building elements.

But what if the BIM was used to contain acquired knowledge, build intuition and generate insights?

After attending two critical AEC-related events in Chicago in one week – Christopher Parson’s seminal KA Connect 2010 conference on Knowledge Management, and Illinois Institute of Technology’s Divergent Perceptions Convergent Realities: IPD and BIM – I started thinking about how BIM models, as a technology and process still very much in a nascent state of development, had the potential to impact the modeler’s, designer’s and even end user’s knowledge, wisdom and intuition.

Today, especially in this economic climate, the BIM is very much a rational model. And while most would agree that one model is not a realistic end goal or even an ideal, what if what we were working toward were multiple models – rational models, intuitive models and rational-iterative models – all assisting in our individual and collective professional judgment and decision-making?

Wisdom Management >> Intuition

Most in the knowledge management and Knowledge Architecture world – the “KA” in KA Connect – would recognize the data flow

Data >> Information >> Knowledge >> Wisdom

where each term is differentiated – and evolves – from an evaluation of its immediate precedent and antecedent. Read more about this and systems thinking here.

That the succession of terms, when stacked, forms architecture’s primordial building form – the pyramid – is almost perverse.

At the IIT colloquium, esteemed Assistant Professor John Durbrow raised the question as to whether intuition could be defined as the successful outcome of internalizing one’s own experience over time?

If this were the case, the new formula would look something like

Data >> Information >> Knowledge >> Wisdom >> Intuition

The Designer’s Burden of Proof

Aaron Greven at the IIT colloquium argued that intuition-based design is being replaced with analytic-based results, creating greater certainty for owners, translating as lower risk, with an emphasis on accountability by the design professional. For evidence of this, see HBR’s The Future of Decision Making: Less Intuition, More Evidence.

But what if our models were able to contain both analytics and intuition-based parameters, resulting in an analytic-intuition model?

Architectural Justification

It is a dirty little secret that architects design what they like and only justify later. They do what they do because they like it – and work hard to provide reasons for their intuitions in the socializing or coming-out of their designs. Architects self-justify and rationalize, then justify and post-rationalize. One could argue that all-in-all the world is a better place – with much better buildings – for having taken this approach.

Here’s the nuance in this argument. What an architect likes is not inherent to the architect – not something she is born with – but something learned, nurtured and inbred, over time, through trial and error and the school of hard knocks. The successful moves rise to the top while the not-so fall like lead to the bottom, seldom to rear their ugly little heads again. Or one would hope. Over time what we call professional judgment or experience is merely the accumulation – and recollection – of such positive feedback over time.

Forget for a moment about what this says about our freedom to choose and the faintly behaviorist underpinnings. What does this have to say about BIM and how BIM might be taught in schools?

It is often argued that undergraduate students ought to be immersed in building construction early on and once familiar with how buildings come together, only then introduce digital technologies such as BIM. Others, of course, believe that there is no place in the curriculum for BIM and it ought to be picked-up on the sly.

Several at the IIT conference expressed concern that students were being exposed to BIM earlier and earlier in the curricula.

Analytic-intuition (Ai) models

But what if BIM was used as a tool to learn how buildings came together? Here, the teaching of BIM in schools could be broken-up into 4 areas of focus

1. Building Data >> 2. Building Information >> 3. Building Knowledge >> 4. Building Wisdom >> Intuition

Where

  • Building Data covers building concepts and systems
  • Building Information covers materials and products
  • Building Knowledge covers research and development
  • Building Wisdom covers collaborative application of the above

Once ingrained, acquired building knowledge and building wisdom would result – through the iterative and social process of an integrated design studio – in intuition.

Some inevitably would argue that intuition is the result of years of trial and error – and wouldn’t be developed until long after school has ended and professionals were well into their careers. Perhaps. But if – as some have said – that architectural education ought to focus on educating future architects for their long careers and not to be employable interns day one out of school, then immersing architecture students in the model to learn modeling AND construction – how buildings come together – would make some sense.

BDM: Building Data Model

This is the building model at its most elemental form, involving pre-information in the form of symbols. Read more about it here and here.

BIM: Building Information Model

Where information is neither the accumulation nor collection of data but represents the next level of information.

BKM: Building Knowledge Model

Knowledge-building activities and even decision-making models may exist in decision theory – but not building knowledge models. Knowledge is putting information from the model into action. Think of it as applied information of the BIM model. The next morning after drafting this post, T.J. McLeish, IIT College of Architecture Virtual Realms, in his colloquium talk on Planning Tools/Digital Design and Fabrication- a self-proclaimed advocate for making smarter people not smarter buildings – rhetorically asked is it building information modeling or knowledge modeling? No doubt a convergence of perceptions.

BWM: Building Wisdom Model

The wisdom model puts the acquired, collective knowledge to use, resulting in understanding. For reasons that will soon become apparent, I am not proposing a Building Understanding Model (BUM)

BiM: Building intuition Model

It is my firm belief that there is a book in response to every question, and the Building + Intuition question is no exception. While not specifically about buildings, Building Intuition: Insights from Basic Operations Management Models and Principles (International Series in Operations Research & Management Science) – while written primarily to enable readers to develop insights with respect to a number of models that are central to the study and practice of operations management – is equally applicable to working in BIM. As the book explains

One of the primary purposes of any model is to build intuition and generate insights. Typically, a model is developed to be able to better understand phenomena that are otherwise difficult to comprehend. Models can also help in verifying the correctness of an intuition or judgment. In spite of the fact that many educators and practitioners recognize the intuition-building power of simple models, this is the first book in the field that uses the power of the basic models and principles to provide students and managers with an “intuitive understanding” of operations management.

What if a BiM were to result in the modeler’s intuitive understanding of how buildings come together, how they ought to be sited, how they impact the entire lifecycle, which designs work and which are better left in the monitor? It is worth a longer look into the role of intuition in design, BIM and IPD.

IIT Colloquium: some observations

There’s a lot you could say about the IIT Divergent Perceptions Convergent Realities – IPD and BIM all-day colloquium on integrating Virtual Realm Design Environments into integrated Building Delivery methodologies and curricular intents. With fewer than 2 dozen non-presenters in attendance the conference was not well-attended. Someone asked:

Have you ever noticed that every technology conference starts with difficulty advancing slides?

Can you really fault those who might have benefitted most by attending for wanting to spend an all-too-rare beautiful Chicago Spring Saturday out of doors instead of in the dark and noisy basement of IIT’s Crown Hall on Chicago’s South Side when there have been a seemingly endless succession of dismal Winter Saturdays when the event could have taken place?

Yes you can. The atmosphere was admittedly a bit like educating the educators. No matter – the presenters and presentations more than made up for calendar and Crown Hall’s less-than-accommodating underbelly. That the event was memorialized on video – one can only hope that the presentations reach a wider audience once uploaded.

John Durbrow, chair of IIT College of Architecture’s Master of Integrated Building Delivery program, as the master of ceremonies, set the tone. Aaron Greven, founder of AG Design Works and teaches in IIT College of Architecture’s Master of Integrated Building Delivery program, spoke on Status of the BIMvolution. Perhaps – along with CM Matt Riemer of Gilbane Building Company’s presentation Pre‐Seeing and Its Impact on Process – the most earth-bound of the talks, served the critical purpose of grounding the topic in such a way that allowed the presentations that followed to diverge or converge as necessary. With the presence of Mies ever-looming over the conference, Greven concluded his talk with these already prophetic words:

“Less may be more, but our looking to get more out of less will lead the way.”

Convergence

Since Sachin Anand, dbHMS Envisioning Energy Flux, representing building systems was not able to attend, Joseph Burns, Thornton Tomasetti, hot on the heels of his recent AIA podcast with Markku Allison revisiting his 2006 insights on BIM and IPD, spoke about Structure not Unseenly, a show-and-tell of his recent work with little critical assessment. David Bier, Futurity provided a much-needed GIS-level view of applying landscape to the BIM environment on Data Systems for Engaging the Environment. A great deal of minute detail was presented, sometimes losing sight of the forest for the trees.

Divergence

T.J. McLeish, IIT College of Architecture Virtual Realms, in his talk on Planning Tools/Digital Design and Fabrication – who, along with all of the faculty presenting and in attendance an alumnus of Murphy Jahn, making the event something of a MJ reunion – explained how he doesn’t see clear-cut boundaries between virtual and non-virtual realms. His interests, he said, fall in the intersection between the real/physical and abstract/digital worlds – and how we translate, manage and move from one to the other. He went on to present a number of research projects he is involved with that have very real applications.   

Ryan Schultz of Studio Wikitecture spoke on Enabling Wiki: Task Definition for Distributed Management – crowdsourcing as a business plan that allows individuals with diverse viewpoints to integrate – indirectly commented on the potential effectiveness of IPD by alluding to how the Skunkworks and Jet propulsion teams collaborated well by reducing the number of participants. It would have been interesting if IPD can be seen as a form of crowdsourcing. I will take this up in a future post. Robert J. Krawczyk, IIT College of Architecture, presented 982 slides illustrating computational design, in The Role of Exploration – What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do. Krawczyk presented the idea of BIM as the latest tool in a long succession of tools (and applicable to this post, where a tool is equated with knowledge.)

While all interesting, the divergent talks could have benefitted from time to time with a reference back to the topic of the day: IPD and BIM.

Keith Besserud, Studio Head [BlackBox] at Skidmore, Owings, & Merril, LLP, also evoked Mies in his talk on Form Follows Data. Keith described BlackBox an applied research studio in the Chicago office of SOM (started back in the glory days of 2007 when firms could still afford R&D,) focusing on developing and leveraging parametric, algorithmic, and computational design methods and tools in the design work of the office. Keith gave an inspiring, if canned, talk on his recent work. Interestingly, what resonated and lasted long after he was finished speaking, was a short digital video illustrating the understanding of wind performance around tall buildings.

A model for a Building Understanding Model? Yes, analytic tools such as Ecotect, take some geometry and look at behaviors in two different locations in the world. Bottom line: Analytic, yes – but also breathtakingly beautiful.

Neil Katz, also of SOM Blackbox, the last presenter (alternatively, Open Visions, Vibrant Visions, and Algorithmic Modeling/Parametric Thinking) before the closing panel discussion, reminded us –in action if not words – that, while IPD and BIM is first and foremost about delivering more efficient results to owners, what attracted us to the field in the first place was the pursuit – and creation – of beauty. His vision presented in creative computational solutions to design problems, is a beautiful one. His work is faultless, beautiful. Neil came across as a gentle soul who spoke without ego or any of the pretensions normally associated with the worst of academia or working in a large competitive firm. That such beauty can result from such circumstances – and after so many years of practice – ought to provide manna for those who wish to continue on their chosen career path despite the many changes and hardships.               

In the panel discussion IIT’s John Durbrow stated that, to architecture and design

Intuition is the assimilation of observations made over time, to see what seems right.

And in doing so

You’ll develop intuition based on the performance of digital tools.

Aaron Greven responded with this inquiry:

How do you teach intuition?

How do you demonstrate intuition?

How do you test, validate and evaluate intuition?

It’s just a hunch but perhaps the answer is in a Building intuition Model (BiM)?

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