Friday, February 04, 2005

Design Intent? (Part One)

So the debate continues...while visiting the FABRICATION conference in Toronto this past Fall, much was said about the difference between "design intent" and "design execution." To clarify, the "design intent" is what Architects have been responsible for conveying through drawings - plans, sections, elevations and schedules. "Design execution" is the information the builder would apply to the design intent to make it buildable. A classic example is a multi-story concrete shear wall. Using traditional tools, the Architect would represent this using two parallel lines and some sort of hatching representation. Those of us who are 'crafty and efficient' would take one set of parallel lines and reference them into as many plans as this wall would vertically go.

Today, with building information modeling tools, the Architect is creating a virtual model of the same shear wall, attempting to get it as close to the real thing as possible. Herin lies the problem. If it was a truer representation of the wall, it would be modeled with construction joints, re-bar, some sense of formwork, etc. - aka "design execution." Now that we all have these great virtual building models that are fully coordinated, can we truly just hand it off to the builder for estimating, construction phasing and other value added tasks? There will be a necessity to perform some kind of translation of data between A/E and C.

One possibility is to inform our designs with the input of the builders earlier in the design process. Architects and Engineers using software tools that can infuse this information will allow more detailed phasing, staging and temporary construction data to co-exist with the 'finished product' data of the design intent.

More to come...

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