Tag Archives: Oscars

The Architect (2012)

Speaking of Hollywood, last night I had the opportunity to see Oscar contender, “The Architect,” a film whose story begins in the late-CAD era.

“The Architect,” whether you consider it a screwball comedy, a sentimental melodrama or a spoof, is a 2D black-and-white film that has received a great deal of praise from critics.

The story is a simple and familiar one

 The story focuses on a declining male starchitect and a rising starletchitect, as CAD grows out of fashion and is replaced by BIM.

A valentine to early computer-aided drafting and design, “The Architect,” stars leading man Jean Dujardin as a CAD-using starchitect named George Valentin.

At the top of his profession, Valentin meets eager would-be architect, Peppy Miller.

She dreams of success in architecture, invests time in learning BIM, and as her demand rises in the industry, Valentin’s shine is eradicated.

Architect Valentin faces untold obstacles: the fickleness of the public’s changing taste, the adoption of disruptive new technologies, waning powers that come with age, competition from fellow industry professionals and unemployment, among others.

Faced with the economic insecurity of the Great Recession and technological change that threatens to make him obsolete, George is being crushed in a vise grip all too familiar to mid-career architects.

Refusing to adapt to the onset of BIM, he puts all his money into one last CAD production.

And pays for it.

George has owners in the palm of his hand, at least until BIM arrives

It turns out George isn’t well-suited for BIM, not least because of his mindset and attitude, dependence on 2D CAD and archaic drafting style.

But BIM is perfectly suited to vivacious ingénue Peppy Miller, who crosses paths with George, first as a fangirl, then as an intern in the office of his firm.

In 2009, just after the economy crashes, George’s studio stops making CAD documents.

The studio head announces the end of production of 2D CAD documents, but Valentin insists that BIM is just a fad.

It’s fitting that the next time he meets Peppy, on Rapidograph Studio’s main stairway, she’s on her way up and he’s on his way down.

When the studio head lays-off all his 2D CAD starchitects, George decides to open his own office where he could work in CAD.

His project is submitted on the same day as Miller’s new BIM project, and Valentin is ruined.

His wife kicks him out and he moves into an apartment with his valet, while Miller goes on to become a major 3D star.

“If that’s the future, you can have it!”

However reassuring excursions into bygone golden ages may be – whether drafting in pencil or CAD – they carry with them the potential for revisionism, soft-focus complacency and the refusal to embrace uncomfortable but necessary change.

This is why some critics are grumbling about “The Architect,” which has won a cache of critics’ awards and looks to be a contender for the Best Picture Oscar.

Whereas naysaying design professionals can appreciate the fond look back at the medium they adore with equal devotion, they inevitably see “The Architect” as an all too-comfortable 2D nostalgia trip that represents stasis rather than genuine innovation, provocation or artistic risk that working in 3D enables.

Those skeptics may be missing a modest but meaningful truth buried under “The Architect’s” surface and story, which is that George’s plight could easily be transposed into any modern-day profession or industry.

In one of “The Architect’s” most poignant scenes, George plays a character sinking in a cement pour, an aptly desperate metaphor at a time when so many architects feel they are in over their heads.

It’s a film that taps into our anxieties as we encounter seismic economic and technological transformations.

Having just witnessed his first BIM model, George says at one point:

“If that’s the future, you can have it!”

He could be speaking for an entire generation of architects who feel as if they’re in mortal danger of being left behind, forced into early retirement they can’t afford — literally or psychologically – or leaving the profession altogether.

At the risk of revealing a spoiler, it turns out all is not lost for George.

Disappointingly, it involves a work-around – when everyone recognizes the only way out is the way through.

“The Architect” may be drenched in the romance and visual values of CAD’s bygone era, but it’s a motion picture uncannily of its time.

(Apologies to critics of “The Artist,” which – like this post – is a shameless pastiche.)

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Teaching Tyler Durden to Revit


My iPhone nearly vibrated off the nightstand.

“Mr. Deutsch?’”

Yes?

“I represent a client who is interested in rivet training.”

Revit…

“Is this something you do?”

I explained that I specialize in BIM consulting and what the difference was.

“So you can do this. You wrote the book on BIM, right?”

Thank you but actually there are several excellent…

“Will you come out to California and teach my client rivet?”

When are they looking to start?

Later that week, I found myself driving north from LA along the coast, address in hand. The house was smaller than I remembered from the spread in Architectural Digest.

Miss Jolie? (I almost said Mrs. Smith!)

“Please, come in – excuse the mess, we’re renting – Ellen’s got our old place – while we wait for our new house to be completed. Can I get you something to drink while I get Brad?”

Looking around, I expected to see Oscars or Golden Globes but the place was sparsely furnished, a few architecture photos and sketchbooks piled high on tables, sets of documents strewn across the floor. Not a computer in sight.

“My iMac’s in storage.”

At once both taller – and shorter – than I expected, we shake. He offers me a seat.

“Hey, thanks for coming on such short notice.”

Holding up one of the drawing sets, pointing out the initials “BP” in the title block, I ask: You do your own drafting?

“Always. You can always tell when a double does it. Right?”

We laugh. One drawing set in particular must have had 500 sheets. I try to lift it.

“You see Oceans Eleven?”

And 12 and 13…

“The Bellagio plans?”

Yeah?

“Who did you think drew them?”

Get off!

“Structural and MEP…even the security docs!”

Unreal…

“What they don’t know about me is that I do all my own CAD work. Its true!” He paused, suddenly looking grave. “And that’s the problem…”

Just as I thought: You’re designing your home and want to do it in…

“The house? We’ve actually got someone else on that.”

He cleared his throat, moving a couple inches closer on the divan. Speaking in a whisper:

“I used to be able to show up at a place, say Orleans, and be taken seriously. You know?”

I nodded.

“But now, all of a sudden, you’re not taken seriously unless you can show them that you can do it in BIM.”

I shake my head. Certainly they must make an exception…?

Looking down, shamefully: “I know!”

I hear you…

“So teach me, will you? Teach me Revit. Can you do that for me?”

With all due respect, you must have friends who could…

“Who? Clooney?! The old fart’s still stuck in CAD. Can’t seem to kick it.”

What I…

“And Damon? Jumped on Microstation and never looked back.”

…I think…

“Listen. PBS is thinking about not renewing my sustainability series unless I can show them I got my BIM chops.”

…you need…

“Obama returned my charitable contribution along with a note saying he couldn’t accept it seeing it was ‘CAD money.’”

…to do is…

“And, get this…”

…to learn how…

“They’re thinking of taking away my USGBC award unless I can provide analysis.”

…to put a building together.

Staring at me, incredulous. “What did you just say?”

BIM’s not like CAD. It’s not a drafting tool. Because you’re essentially building the building virtually in the computer before you build it out in the field, in order to work in BIM, you need to know how a building goes together.

“Crap.”

Later that day, on my way back to LAX, I realized what he was looking for was something I couldn’t help him with: “Hollywood BIM.”

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