Tag Archives: Phil Bernstein

BIM’s Blue Ocean

After I give one of my talks on building information modeling the question I’m most often asked is:

What’s the best BIM business model?

What is the best way to make a profit utilizing building information modeling on projects in their organization?

In other words, how can we leverage the technology to reap the greatest financial reward?

It goes without saying that they have invested a great deal of money in soft- and hardware – and time in getting comfortable with each – and now want to know what the return is on their investment.

Is it the Free business model?

The Long Tail business model?

Or something altogether different?

It’s actually a lot simpler than any of these.

It’s called “coupling.”

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

First, let’s take a quick look at two books that use the sea metaphor to help explain how businesses can best address our industry’s ongoing sea changes.

Then we’ll turn this metaphor on to design and construction professional’s situation to see how they can best benefit from the emerging technologies in their organizations.

C-Scape

A book every design and construction professional ought to read is

C-Scape: Conquer the Forces Changing Business Today, a book that shows how businesses can survive and thrive in the digital media revolution.

Don’t be turned-off by the book’s emphasis on media – especially digital and social media.

It’s the metaphor that’s applicable here.

The book’s storyline goes something like this:

Not so long ago, the business landscape was easier to chart.

That landscape has been upended, and in its place a “C-Scape” has emerged—a world where

  • Consumers, not producers and marketers, make the choices; where
  • Content, not distribution, is king; where
  • Curation becomes a primary currency of value; and where
  • Convergence continues to revolutionize every part of every business.

Taking a more in-depth look at each of these 4 Cs:

Consumers choose what, how, and when they consume information. This has given consumers more power than ever in the relationship with content creators and information sources. Those who don’t respect this new relationship will perish.

Content becomes king. With the Internet able to directly bring the buyer to the seller, the need to have a better product, not just one that is distributed better, will become paramount. Those who had distribution advantages will struggle so long as they are averse to focusing on competing with direct distribution.

Curation cures information overload. Businesses will need to monitor and curate conversations about their brands in order to prevent major blunders.

Convergence revolutionizes every form of communication. New forms of storytelling will emerge as all forms of communication converge on a single platform for the first time. Companies need to learn these new ways of telling stories about their products and brands.

You’ve probably experienced some of these forces yourself, on your teams and in your organizations.

There are some obvious overlaps with the construction industry.

But that’s not where we’re going with this.

While these concepts are astute, they represent the digital media’s C-landscape.

Not our own (unless you consider the idea that every organization is now in the media business.)

Design and Construction’s Seven Seas

Design and construction has its own seascape or C-Scape.

But its seven C’s don’t stand for consumers, content, curation and convergence.

Our seven C’s stand for:

  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Cooperation
  • Community
  • Complexity
  • Co-location
  • Co-creation

C-words, make note, all beginning with “co” – for “together.”

While Construction is another one (Coupling is as well) these 7 C’s represent our seascape or blue ocean.

Why?

Because in our profession and industry collaboration and the other six concepts are virtually uncharted waters.

Blue Ocean Strategy

Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant,

You might recall is a book where the blue ocean metaphor represents a vision of the kind of expanding, competitor-free markets that innovative companies can navigate.

Unlike “red oceans,” which are well-explored and crowded with competitors, “blue oceans” stand for “untapped market space” and growth.

A few of the book’s basic concepts – implying where we are today and where we are headed – can be summarized as follows:

  • Compete in existing market space >>> Create uncontested market space
  • Beat the competition >>> Make the competition irrelevant
  • Exploit existing demand >>> Create and capture new demand
  • Make the value/cost trade-off >>> Break the value/cost trade-off
  • Align the whole system of a company’s activities with its choice of differentiation or low cost >>> Align the whole system

BIM isn’t our blue ocean.

Collaboration is.

Why?

Because BIM has become – or is fast becoming – ubiquitous.

And collaboration is still largely uncharted territory.

For BIM to live up to its promise, we must make it our goal to use emerging technology to address analysis such as building performance and energy use.

As Phil Bernstein FAIA predicts, “as these platforms get more robust and analytical algorithms get more sophisticated the whole analysis problem moves from things we understand right now – things like airflow and the modulus of elasticity – to building codes and air quality.”

To accomplish this we’ll have to share what we know with one another.

There’s no other way for our industry – and for us – to move forward.

In order for us to achieve our goals and in order for BIM to realize its promise, we will have to first accept, then relearn, how to communicate and share information.

The best way for design and construction professionals to accomplish this is by working together.

By leveraging each other’s experience and expertise.

By keeping an open line of communication and exercising it constantly.

By looking to one another for insights and solutions.

If we are to survive and overcome the forces that are remaking the design and construction landscape, we will do whatever is in our power to learn to work compatibly and effectively.

Together.

Coupling Design and Construction

Design professionals, especially, like to go it alone.

They find the idea of sharing design input, and more so, responsibility threatening.

“Let me take it back to the office and study it” is their onsite mantra.

Concerning our desire to peel away and sequester ourselves, I love this quote from the new head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde.

Four small words that were barely noticed when she said them at the Jackson Hole Symposium:

“Decoupling is a myth.”

Making the case for the key issue for the world economy:

Everything is coupled to everything else.

As futurist and iconoclast Stowe Boyd notes, “the steps taken to date have not decomplexified the economic tarball. No real steps have been taken to make the world economic system less connected, and that is the only path to a safer world.”

Like the rest of the world and economy, we are all in this together.

Connected.

There’s no extracting any one entity from the collective.

For design and construction professionals, it’s all “co” from here on out.

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Filed under analysis, BIM, BIM organizations, business model, collaboration, construction industry, design professionals, modeling

BIM (in) The Game

The Game is the name given to the annual football game played between Harvard and Yale. The two teams have met 126 times in the past 135 years, and while Yale has a slight edge (in) the series, Harvard is the current champion.

They call the end-of-season annual meeting between the two teams The Game.

The Game is the second oldest rivalry – after Princeton vs. Yale – and so it is ironic (and an admittedly less than smooth transition) that Princeton Architectural Press (PAP) has produced two Game-changing publications – one from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (GSD) and the other from the Yale Architecture School (YAS) – that I would like to briefly describe and compare in this post (PST.)

Enough with the acronyms.  For those who have read my current piece in AECbytes you’ll know that I’m on something of a synthesis kick right now that is threatening to become a synthesis rampage. I would personally like to see a moratorium on BIM and Integrated Design analysis until someone steps forward with a clear roadmap, less findings, more wayfinding. In the viewpoint article I state that

There is a tendency—with each new release, with each new product, posting and revelation—to add to what is already known instead of clarifying—and solidifying—what we already have. What our industry needs right now is not more information or analysis of information: the pieces are there. What is needed is a coming-together, a coalescing of knowledge—a synthesis of BIM and Integrated Design.

Agree? Disagree? Post a comment here. I mention this because while I believe YAS’s Building (in) the Future: Recasting Labor in Architecture may very well be the finest commentary on the condition of the profession to come out in the past 15 years – when compared with Harvard’s GSD’s freshman effort from 1996, Reflections on Architectural Practice in the Nineties, it becomes increasingly clear that we as a profession have lost sight of – or no longer see – the forest from the trees.

To be clear, Yale’s Building (in) the Future, by grounding the discussion (in) technology, admittedly focuses on the trees of technology and the changing roles of those who work in them, while Harvard’s Reflections is as the title implies, more forest-like (in) its scope.

But this may be due to the publication’s separate ambitions: one to describe changes to an evolving profession over the course of a decade, the other focused not only on the increasingly diverse technologies impacting the profession as well as on the roles of those working with them – with the resulting transition from master architects to master builders.

At a book launch event in late February 2010, Phil Bernstein was reported saying that with the book he hopes “to create a theoretical frame in which we can begin to explore these options, because the technology is moving even much, much more quickly than we could possibly have known.” The implication being that the book offers frame-like branches from which will hang our future exploration’s leaves that, in time, will make-up our much needed forest.

Both books cite the grandfather of architecture profession studies, Robert Gutman, and his presence is felt in both publications. In fact, Yale’s Building dedicates the book to Robert Gutman (1926-2007) as “a most sensitive analyzer of the architectural profession.” And this is the crux: analyzer – not synthesizer. What is needed (in) our current transition is more effort put into synthesizing the vast amounts of information concerning BIM and Integrated Design at our disposal and less analysis.

Building (in) the Future: Recasting Labor in Architecture is divided (in)to two sections: Working and Making, and Collaboration, which remarkably cover the (in)terests of this blog and blogger:

Working and Making = BIM

Collaboration = (In)tegrated Design

My concern is that with spring upon us we’ll be reading even less than we do as a profession. Upon completing this post, I would like to ask that you peruse the books mentioned at the end of this post, order, purchase or borrow the one that most (in)tuitively connects with you on a visceral level, read it, doodle and comment in the marg(in)s, and when you’re done, draw-up a map – a roadmap, a plan, your vision – for how you would suggest we move forward as a profession. Tap into your all-too-rare-(in)-this-world ability to synthesize vast amounts of often conflicting, complex and contradictory information into an elegant and smart solution for our current condition. We are looking to you for this. Lead. Start a movement – and in doing so – you will have done your not-so-small part to help all of us along.

I won’t review these books here (in) their entirety – but recommend that you read Building (in) the Future for yourself. For a review of Building (in) the Future look here and for a summary, here.

At the risk of inundating you with too much information, in October 2006, the Yale School of Architecture held a symposium that became the inspiration for this book, entitled “Building (in) the Future: Recasting Labor in Architecture.” You might want to take a quick look at this presentation from the conference with one of BIM + Integrated Design’s favorite speakers, Joshua Prince-Ramus. In a session entitled “The Organization of Labor: Architecture,” Joshua Prince-Ramus of REX; façade consultant Marc Simmons of Front, Inc.; architect Coren Sharples of SHoP; lawyer Howard W. Ashcraft; and Phillip Bernstein of Autodesk and Yale University discusses issues such as hiring, structuring of project teams, responsibilities and liabilities, compensation, contracts, scope and responsibility of work, and the legal and public recognition of authorship. Watch – http://www.rex-ny.com/approach/yale-building-in-the-future-symposium

The Read-Now List

Building (in) the Future: Recasting Labor in Architecture, Phillip Bernstein, Peggy Deamer eds.

Building (in) the Future: Recasting Labor in Architecture raises as many questions as it addresses. Over thirty contributors – including Phillip Bernstein Autodesk, Inc., Building Solutions Division VP and Yale School of Architecture lecturer, Peggy Deamer, Kenneth Frampton, Paolo Tombesi, Howard W. Ashcraft, Jr., Reinhold Martin, James Carpenter, Branko Kolarevic, Chris Noble and Kent Larson among many others – including designers, engineers, fabricators, contractors, construction managers, planners, and scholars examine how contemporary practices of production are reshaping the design/construction process. The book that grew out of the 2006 symposium is still relevant and provides as succinct and convincing snapshot of the profession in the throes of change as you are likely to find anywhere.

A beautifully produced book, well-made, small in format if not in ambition.

Reflections on Architectural Practice in the Nineties

This still largely timely and thought-provoking collection of essays offers a detailed examination of architectural practice in the 1990s, having grown out of a year-long symposium at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, which took stock of pressing issues in order to speculate on future paths for both education and practice.

Among the many familiar challenges the architecture profession faced at the time was a constantly volatile economic climate, rapid technological change, and a general globalization of society. Reflections presents 29 essays by leading critics, scholars, and designers, essays that grapple with these and other issues and provide strategies for confronting them.

To give you an idea of the scope of Reflections, the book is organized into sections:

  • OVERVIEWS OF ARCHITECTURAL PRACTICE AND EDUCATION
  • PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES AND ETHICS
  • THE GLOBAL ECONOMY AND ARCHITECTURE
  • IMPLICATIONS FOR DESIGN EDUCATION

Some of the stronger essays included:

  • Getting Beyond Architectural Monographs and “How-To” Management Books • Roger Ferris
  • Practice Realities Must Be Integrated in Design Studios • Fred Stitt
  • The Shaping of Architectural Practice • Elizabeth Padjen
  • Growing Complexities in Practice • A. Eugene Kohn
  • In Big Firms, Most Do Not Design • Stephen Kliment, Peter Forbes
  • Three Models for the Future of Practice
  • On the Need for the Collaboration of Diverse People • Frances Halsband
  • How Should Architects Respond to Changes in Practice? • Andrea Leers
  • Notes on the Fate of the Architectural Profession in the Post-Structuralist Era • George Baird
  • Mentors Are More Important than Curriculum • Margaret Henderson Floyd
  • Changing Roles for Architects: Conversations from a Colloquium
  • Losing and Regaining Ground: A Jeremiad on the Future of the Profession • Carl Sapers
  • On Virtuous Architects • Carl Sapers
  • Collaboration Is a Management Art • Charles B. Thompson
  • On Liability and Litigation • Richard Crowell
  • Information Technology: A New Source of Empowerment for Architects • Spiro Pollalis
  • Globalization, Flows, and Identity: The New Challenges of Design • Manuel Castells
  • Design in an Increasingly Small World • Peter G. Rowe
  • Shaping Design Education • Peter G. Rowe

Architecture From the Outside In: Selected Essays by Robert Gutman (2010)

Today, in the face of the challenges confronting their profession, from the economic crisis to an urgent need for longer-lasting, more affordable, and greener construction, architects have been forced to reconsider the relationship between architecture and society, between buildings, their inhabitants, and the environment. No single individual did more to build this discourse than Robert Gutman. Sometimes referred to as the sociological father of architecture, Gutman in his writing and teaching initiated a conversation about the occupants of buildings and the forms, policies, plans, and theories that architects might shape. A sociologist by training, Gutman infiltrated architecture s ranks in the mid-1960s. Over the next four decades at Princeton s School of Architecture, Gutman wrote about architecture and taught generations of future architects, while still maintaining an outsider status that allowed him to see the architectural profession in an insightful, unique, and always honest way. Architecture From the Outside In is the only book of Gutman’s collected essays to span his entire career, with the earliest essay included from 1965, and the most recent from 2005. Before his death in 2007, Gutman wrote a new introduction for the book, its chapters, and each of the included essays. The fourteen essays included here are the rare case of valuable historical documents that remain relevant to architects practicing today. Editors Dana Cuff and John Wriedt added twelve dialogues by some of Gutman’s former students, now some of the best-known architects and theorists of today: Bryan Bell, Deborah Berke, Peggy Deamer, Frank Duffy, Keller Easterling, Robert Fishman, Marta Gutman, Wallis Miller, David Mohney, Patricia Morton, Eric Mumford, and Sarah Whiting. These essays give a contemporary response to Gutman’s work, and make Architecture From the Outside In an invaluable addition to any contemporary architect’s library. 

Architectural Practice: A Critical View (1988)

The book that started it all describes the state of the profession in the latter 80’s and the historical reasons for its condition. Drawing from economical, social and political forces he explains the reasons for the decline of the role of the architect. A used copy can still be had for $1.58

 

 

Building Community: A New Future for Architecture Education and Practice: A Special Report by Boyer and Mitgang (1996)

Despite being focused primarily on architectural education, this study provides a forest of recommendations for the profession.

 

HUNCH 6/7: 109 Provisional Attempts to Address Six Simple And Hard Questions About What Architects Do Today And Where Their Profession Might Go Tomorrow (2003)

For a profession that is too busy to stand still, HUNCH 6/7 stops time, slices through the moment, and exposes an international sampling of architecture’s voices against a newspaper backdrop of the world today. On the occasion of the farewell to Wiel Arets and the welcoming of Alejandro Zaera-Polo as dean of the Berlage Institute, 109 architects and critics who have stimulated research at the Berlage Institute were invited to reflect on the changing profession of architecture and to reconsider their role as spacemakers. They were asked six simple and hard questions about what architects do today and where their profession might go tomorrow. Forest.

HUNCH 13: Consensus (2010)

A collection of twelve provocative contributions by leading and emerging architects, critics, and scholars focuses on how collective thought shapes and enriches the built environment. From decision-making strategies, participatory forms of urbanism, and top-down planning methods, to the collaborative approach of the architecture studio, the political implications of commissioning of star architects, and the realization of universal planning principles, the authors explore how different constituencies work together to make design decisions, Along with these topical contributions – which are supplemented by marginalia of annotations, terminologies, and short stories – a series of four conversations with renowned architectural practitioners and theorists, and a visual essay and text reconsidering the role of imagery in architectural history and theory.

ARCHITECTURE CALIFORNIA, VOL. 18, NO. 2, WINTER 1996/97

Issue devoted to the future of architecture as a profession includes articles on: Boyer Report, African American architects, Sherrie Levine’s Chimera, gated communities, a prose poem by Victor di Suvero, women writer’s influence on American architecture, Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, Goodman2, and interview with Kenneth Caldwell. Vol. 1 – if you can get your hands on it – it equally outstanding and deserves a wider readership.

STILL HAVEN’T FOUND WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR?

Ever-nostalgic for the demise of our beloved www.Archvoices.org,  you can still look to this site for a comprehensive list of books and essays to stimulate and sharpen your thinking on this critical topic; a forest preserve of a list that addresses a much wider range of topics than our current trees painting a richer picture of the profession with each category listing dozens of relevant sources including: Diversity in the Profession, Career Paths, Internship, Licensure, Comparisons to Other Professions, Practice, Studio Culture, Surveys and Studies and Women in the Profession.

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