Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Getting real and moving to beta...

Yes, I know it's been quite a while since I've updated my blog. Zoog and I have been quite busy working on some amazing projects at the office with some unbelievable new technology. We've also been involved in an sweeping shift in how our projects are organized and staffed when using BIM tools...I'll explain in an upcoming post.

For now, I'm taking the opportunity to get my blog link to match its title which will coincide with the new Beta Blogger site from Google. There are some neat new features such as tagging (see Steve Stafford's Blog as a great example). They tell me I'll be able to merge into the Google Blogger once it goes live, so we'll see what happens. For now, both sites will be available.

To all my faithful link-holders...the new site will be http://allthingsbim.blogspot.com. Thanks for your patience.

Friday, January 27, 2006

BIM - Why?

As many of us are beginning to implement a solution for what is known as "building information modeling," I strongly suggest maintaining a list of clear goals and objectives for these new tools and how they might affect and transform your business. Exerting the time and effort required to learn a new and more powerful tool - simply to generate the same deliverables - may not yield the results you might expect. The following is a list of some areas to consider for evolution of the deliverable products:
  • Orthographic or Perspective Views - of course, by virtue of creating a three-dimensional model of the intended design, we have the opportunity to provide additional - and potentially unlimited - views to help communicate with clients, contractors and consultants.
  • Quantity Surveying - because today's BIM tools, such as Autodesk Revit, consider a project design file to be a three-dimensional database of the design intent, it is considerably easier to generate reports of the data in the database - doors, windows, furniture, etc.
  • Analysis - now that you're building a virtual model of the building before it's built on site (at SOM, this was referred to as "Reality Before Reality"), there exists the opportunity to perform a variety of analyses. These might include ingress/egress, thermal performance, acoustics, construction simulation and others.
  • Fabrication - with additional input and rationalization of the designed forms, design data can be used to study components using rapid prototyping methods or shared directly with fabricators to decrease construction time while increasing quality or perhaps enabling the construction of more complex forms.
  • Construction/Supply Chain Integration - taking the data another step further brings us to the notion of the integrated job site where procurement, delivery and assembly is managed using a fully coordinated digital building model. Use of bar coding, radio frequency ID tags and GPS positioning can be integrated with the original design data.

Obviously, the provision of this data should not be taken for granted by our downstream consumers. I hope to provide some valuable insight on that important aspect in posts to come.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Back in Black

After a long hiatus from the blogging community, I'm back. I've seen my Digital Design team here at SOM grow from 1 (me) to 7 in a matter of months. We are having great success and some challenging opportunities as we continue to evolve our technology.

The original intention of this weblog was to be more than a compilation of tips and tricks for a particular program - these blogs are quite useful, well written and updated often by my friends and colleagues including everyone from Lynn Allen and Steve Stafford to Robin Capper and (my new team member) Chris Zoog. I hoped to entice some of my friends to collaborate on this site and share their experiences while implementing building information modelling, but we are all quite busy with increases in workloads, new staff and new technology. I've decided to slightly modify the mission and return to sole authorship (sorry, JB). I'll be talking about a range of topics including Revit modeling, implementation, analysis, building lifecycle management, training and education, and change management.

"Diary of a 21st Century CAD Manager"

In a recent viewpoint article by Jim Bedrick, he shares some wonderful insights on process change with which I heartily agree. As a CAD Manager turned "Digital Design Manager," I am in the fortunate position to witness the evolution of an entire industry. In a firm where I am surrounded by rich tradition as well as a drive to use technology to enhance our business, I find myself immersed in discussions of UNIX, AES, pin-bar drafting and "the matrix" (I'll explain later). I hope to share some of my day-to-day experiences with my visitors and hopefully inspire some of you to forge ahead with your own technology implementation.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

RSS Feed Added

After a short hiatus, I'm back online and have added an RSS feed based on visitor feedback. Click on the FeedBurner icon in the side bar for connection information.

I also recommend a look at Onfolio to collect, organize and share web content and research. Their latest Professional version has RSS feeds capability as well as the ability to post directly to a blog or web server. Very slick tool which I use every day.

"Onfolio is a PC application for reading RSS news feeds, collecting and organizing online content and publishing to email, weblogs and web sites."

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Next Dimension: "Article from The Architect's Newspaper by Clay Risen featuring a comparison between BIM and PM (Parametric Modeling) tools. [SOM contributing]"

SOM Project Using Autodesk Revit Posted by Hello

Featured Link

Quadrilateral Formulas: "Formulas for finding the area, perimeter, etc. of a quadrilateral. Great fun when developing parametric BIM components...back to high school ;)"

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Collaboration, Disclaimers and Risk Management

I've been inspired by a recent thread on the AEC-IS Roundtable forum to discuss the topic of collaboration, digital file disclaimers and risk management when employing Building Information Modeling tools. I recently met with Jim Bedrick, Director of Systems Integration for Webcor Builders in California to discuss related topics and I credit the inspiration for this thread to his Roundtable responses.

Most, if not all practicing Architects and Engineers use a Digital File Disclaimer when transmitting CAD files to clients, consultants and contractors. These disclaimers function as the buffer between the designer's intent and the builder's means and methods. To put it bluntly, disclaimers absolve the designer or engineer of any liability due to errors or omissions in their digital data. Most disclaimers also state that the accuracy of such data cannot be guaranteed. Where does this leave the state of efficiency in collaboration? See the NIST Report on Interoperability or Paul Teicholz' article on Declining labor productivity in the construction industry.

Think about what that means to a contractor when you send him/her your CAD files or BIM model and you state that none of the lines or model objects are guaranteed to be accurate. Guess where that data will go... Herein lies the problem: today's liability and insurance requirements restrict the Architect or the Engineer from dictating means and methods to the builder, thus we must take a more focused look at our methods of modeling and documentation in a collaborative environment.

While movements are underway to change the way projects are delivered, in effect distributing risk across an entire project team (result-driven), I believe the A/E sector can begin to re-examine its current collaboration process with upcoming BIM software. To begin, builders like Mr. Bedric are imploring designers to avoid 'fudging' practices such as overwriting dimension string values in CAD files or widely using terms such as "VARIES." If the A/E industry can formulate a loose set of best practices for BIM, we will make great strides towards improving productivity and the usability of our data by downstream consumers.

As far as production cost savings are concerned, Mr. Bedrick believes that reducing the time and effort required to produce shop drawings by reusing design CAD/BIM data is insignificant; however, true value can be harvested by efficient use of a RELIABLE digital model in order to provide faster, more accurate quantity take-offs. This would drastically reduce the turnaround time on estimates and would allow for either lower pre-construction fees or more frequent cost estimates which would potentially "reduce or eliminate value engineering efforts resulting in rework for the Architect."

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Bentley and Interoperability?

I applaud Bentley's support of the IAI and pledge for maximum interoperability with a great number of file formats supported on the Microstation platform. Their "Build As One" campaign is quite effective and their quest for Autodesk customer business is quite tenacious, however, I must vent my frustration about the interactions I've encountered with other firms using the Microstation platform. The V8 generation was focused on the ability to work on DGN and DWG files simultaneously such that it didn't matter if your consultants were using Autodesk products and supplying you with DWG files.

So, why does almost every consultant or client we've encountered who employs the Bentley suite of products demand our files in DGN format? Is this perhaps due to the fact that Bentley does not retire any of their older software, such that firms may still be using Microstation J with no motivation to upgrade? Please share your thoughts on this matter.