Thank you very much Randall!
The ‘Other’ BIM: Business Improvement Model
Another optimistic view of how Owners, Architects, Contractors, Manufacturers and Facility Management might work together.
Steven C. Shell, Architect
Our profession has always enjoyed a very clear separation and understanding of what Architects do vs that which Contractors do. Perhaps it’s time to find better ways to all work together.
I see more and more papers and blogs trying to re-define our liabilities, limit our responsibilities, protect our ‘ownership’ rights, define the concept of BIM, explain what a ‘model’ is, and clarify the level of detail (LOD) for liability and contractual limitations. Instead, maybe we could start working as a team throughout the life of the bulding, with the Owner, Contractors, Manufacturers, Fabricators and Installers. Perhaps by providing the fully developed Architectural Level 300 model to the Owner, everybody responsible for constructing and maintaining the building will benefit from our early work while ensuring that the ‘design intent’ stays intact throughout the entire building process. This would provide a more effective and cost efficient work flow rather than the current practice where others re-model the building from scratch in order to create a new model for her or his specific needs.
I realize that this new BIM (Business Improvement Model) process will require all of us to change our way of thinking and how we do business. We should move towards the future rather than clinging on to the past.
Maybe this example from my own experience will help convince you that it is time to embrace a new business model. When I was in college in the late 70’s, I had the amazing good fortune to have been taught design and graphic communication by some of the most amazing professors, most of whom were practicing Architects. Our college was a ‘design school’. But, out of five years of classes, how many were devoted to the ‘business side’ of our profession. Answer: Exactly two! “Construction Documents” and “Ethics & Practice”. And, what were we taught in our “Ethics & Practice” class? How to create a firm, how to edit the A.I.A. forms and “Game Theory” where we were instructed on how to keep score against the Contractor and hold ‘markers’ in our pockets for every time the Contractor didn’t do what was on the drawings so that, if needed, we could use them to negotiate our way out of paying for our mistakes.
This type of teaching goes against my basic principles and work ethic, and how I have learned to practice Architecture. In this new business model, we should adopt the ‘spirit of cooperation and team work’ vs the normally practiced ‘spirit of negotiation and competition’.
BIM: It’s Alive!
An optimistic view of how Owners, Architects, Contractors, Manufacturers and Facility Management might all work together.
Steven C. Shell, Architect
The future of our industry is here, albeit in its infancy. We are constantly being bombarded with buzz words like Building Information Modeling (BIM), Autodesk® Revit®, 3D Parametric Modeling, Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), Level of Development, Clash Detection & Multi-Discipline Coordination, BIM Aggregation, Lifecycle Platform, Professional Responsibility, Project Deliverables and Contractual Expectations, 3D, 4D, 5D and now 6D, the list goes on… what’s next?
So, why is it that most of us are all still working the same way we did back when I was in College studying to be an Architect some 31 years ago?
Revit and other parametric 3D modeling software has been around for over 12 years; however, it was mostly the building geometry embedded with just enough information to produce our construction documents. Unfortunately, I always felt that it was a shame that nobody else was really getting the full potential benefit of my model.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved Revit from the beginning, and I still love it now. It was a game changer for me! I still remember spending countless late nights on Chris Zoog’s Revit forum while trying to model some roof, topography or stair. I vividly remember my first Autodesk University in Las Vegas where all of us early Revit users met for the first time, many of whom I have stayed close friends with over these past 10 years.
Now, 12 years later, Revit is no longer considered to be ‘cutting edge’ technology. It is now becoming the preferred tool of choice for an ever growing number of Architects and Builders. It will soon become expected, if not required, to design, document and deliver the project. Recently, Revit has been referred to as ‘disruptive’ or ‘invasive’ technology. So, what has changed?
Over these past 2 years, we have been seeing major companies starting to write software to supplement Revit as well as developing content to furnish us with more and more of the ‘Information’ and data for building construction, materials, environmental and performance analysis, operating equipment and furnishings. We are even seeing digital laser scanning technology becoming common place in renovation and restoration work. All of this new information can be leveraged by everyone associated with the project, from the original designer to the repair contractor servicing a piece of equipment years later. This is why I say that BIM has finally come to life.
The model should no longer just be the Architect’s. Once our “Architectural” model is complete and the Bid Documents are finalized, the model should be passed on to the Contractor and be allowed to outgrow us.
Our model, or child, should be allowed to be expanded upon with new data and be given new purpose. We should all just be temporary care givers, or custodians, letting go of it and handing if off to the next professional who will take care of it until it becomes the Owner’s building and her or his responsibility.
Architecture is still considered to be a profession. As a practicing Architect for over 27 years, I would like to ensure that it stays a viable, important, necessary and wonderfully rewarding profession.
Like Doctors, we are in charge of a life. Our projects, or buildings, are like our children. And as such, we are extremely protective and claim ownership when maybe we should not. Perhaps it is time to look at the way the medical profession evolved from the days of the country doctor who took care of you for most of your life to now, when a primary care provider refers you off to a specialist when needed because of technology, specialization, liability, insurance, economic and financial interests.
When I say BIM has come to life, I am referring to the building model itself. We, the Architects and Designers bring this model to life. We are its creator based on too many factors to mention here. We provide a critically important function. We are the equivalent to an Obstetrician, and as such, we are only responsible for bringing this new life into the world. We are not responsible for raising it, nor building it.
Our profession has always enjoyed a very clear separation and understanding of what Architects do vs that which Contractors do. This is similar to when the Obstetrician’s role ends and the Pediatric Care Physician’s starts. The Contractor should not have to begin from scratch when creating the “Constructability” model. We should provide the Contractor our fully developed Architectural Level 300 model so that the Owner and Contractor can benefit from our hard work while ensuring that the ‘design intent’ stays intact throughout the process.
This all ties in with the earlier point I made about ‘disruptive’ and ‘invasive’ technology (“The future is coming…are you up for it?” http://scshell.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/the-future-is-coming-are-you-up-for-it/) . In order to survive in the very near future, we will need to move forward with this new way of working, or ignore it and keep doing what we have been doing while arguing, “We are on the computer, stop pestering me with that BM and Rivitt or Reevet stuff. What more do we need?” Really?
Our world is changing. Are you up to it?
I normally do not post or write about our profession, nor do I preach or give my opinions on a forum. I seldom get up on a soapbox unless specifically asked about something. Those here who know me will agree; however, these past 2 weeks have really been amazing and I just wanted to share. I have had the opportunity to meet and discuss our industry with many professionals throughout many industries who I really look up to and respect and are doing amazing things around the world . Along with Architects, Designers and Contractors, I have met software designers who will soon be giving us more tools to play with, I mean “work” with. (Okay, maybe play with too.)
I have just returned from the Revit Technology Conference (RTC – NA) in Vancouver where I was able to hear from some of the most amazing people in our industry as well as discuss the future of Architecture and building with the people who are starting to design and/or implement our new work flows and processes which included software designers, Architects, Contractors, Fabricators and Manufacturers and whole lot of very smart people.
I also found out last week that one of my classes (the “new class”) which introduces new and unique ideas about how to integrate old and new work flows rather than replacing old ones, had been accepted by Autodesk for AU 2013 in Las Vegas. I have never ‘officially’ presented these ideas and this class has nothing to do with what I normally present. I found it interesting that my older traditional graphics and Architectural based classs were not accepted. I was also surprised that most of my fellow presenters had not been accepted at all. (Even last year’s number one rated speaker was not invited back this year to present.)
As luck would have it, I as in Vancouver when I found this out and had the chance to discuss this with some of the Autodesk representatives who were there attending the RTC. I also had a chance to discuss Autodesk’s market positioning and direction regarding the future of our industry in general and how technology and software will impact and/or shape our world as Architects and Designers.
All I can say is…….damn! Things are really changing, and really fast. Anybody who knows me knows that I am always looking over my shoulder to see what is coming down the from the world of “impossible and impractical”, into my world of “possible”. I have had my own opinions for the past several years now which I have shared with some of you; however, hearing those opinions being repeated back to me by the people who are actually designing and using them now, really hit me!
If you understand the term, “Disruptive Innovation”, then you understand what I am referring to. As it was repeatedly told to me, you can either embrace it, or keep doing what you are doing. (You may want to think about Kodak while deciding.) The key is to not be one of the “un’s”…..unaware, unable or unwilling.
Just a thought this morning as I enjoy my coffee and photos from Vancouver.