UPSIDE DOWN BIM

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I think that perhaps our biggest challenge in BIM is the different industry perspectives/ personalities and agendas that we have within the design/ building construction/ building management space.

Those of us who have been in the BIM implementation space for many years would agree our biggest challenge is always (a) resistance to change and (b) a conflict and misalignment of industry sector values and agendas.

~ M. Van Kolck

Now before I continue I will be clear in stating the following: This blog post is riddled with generalizations simply because without being general I won’t be able to make my point. So if any of my observations offend you feel free to console yourself that they simply don’t apply to you or take the opportunity to see if perhaps there is a slither of relevance in what I am saying.

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So let’s have a closer look at some of the misalignment of values and agendas within our industry. All attributes listed below are just my perception and I place no judgement on these observations. There are some very good reasons why certain personality types are drawn to various sectors within our industry. For example, we need engineers to be fixated on practicality, safety and structural or mechanical integrity. We also need our designers to be visionaries so that we build a world filled with less mass-produced, ghost-like, buildings that are void of personality and the imagination of the human spirit.

ARCHITECTS / DESIGNERS (Our Artists)

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  • Visionary, Idealistic, Imaginative, Creative, Detail orientated
  • Their identity lies in their unique way of viewing their world and their endless pursuit of creating beauty and spaces that uplift those that experience them
  • Resistance to following any solution that makes them feel less unique. Architects could be found arguing that no single systemized solution could possibly ever apply to them, their client, studio or firm.
  • Resistance to “mass-produced” solutions.
  • Their fear of losing projects to other firms causes them to be far more reluctant to push back when the industry or project demands are unrealistic. As a result the Architects are often the sector of the industry that wears most of the cost in delivering BIM projects simply because they assume responsibilities more easily when other industry sectors drop the ball, refuse to take accountability for certain tasks or make extreme demands.
  • Prone to making too many design variations and creating great strain on project resources and profitability as a result of over detailing their models or specifications.
  • Can be controlling in nature due to having a strong tendency towards perfectionism and wanting to protect their vision.
  • Tend to over detail documentation since they distrust that their design intent will be adhered to without detailed specification. Can be known to over specify.
  • May be more easily influenced by external validation that they are unique and that their quest for beauty is essential, even noble. (Something the software industry has worked out and mastered about marketing to this type of client.)
  • Projects are less likely to be profitable because design variations can consume resources and profits and architects/designers are cautious to charge for too many variations especially when they are often the cause of the next design change/improvement.
  • Staff can become exhausted with imposing high pressure deadlines and endless overtime hours worked, in the midst of constant re-designing of the project vision.
  • Might try to avoid conflict with client in terms of negotiating higher fees or more reasonable project timelines but could raise the roof in the battle for the perfect door tag! ;-)

ENGINEERS (Our Planners / Analysers)

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  • Engineers are dominant in their practical mindedness
  • Tendency to share information less freely.
  • Have mastered the art of not demystifying exactly what they do so or how they do it. (E.g. Home renovation TV shows abound but we don’t see a DIY engineering program making prime time TV.)
  • Less concerned with aesthetics, in general.
  • Far more concerned by safety and workability. (As they should be)
  • Feels most comfortable in systemized solutions but does not always like to assume or take ownership of roles or accountability outside their current industry scope of agreed responsibilities.
  • Can be accused of being less pro-active (at times). This might simply be because this industry tends to attract more analytical personality types who may be less swayed with ideals of social integration (as opposed to architects/designers who are hard-wired to strive for harmony)
  • Probably attracts a more methodical, even cautious, personality type that finds value in concentrating on safety, mathematics and problem solving. (Again, this is a good thing and appropriate for their role.)
  • Reluctant to assume accountability for things that are not within their scope
  • Hesitates in modelling too soon for fear that the architects/ designers will change their minds. It would not be uncommon to hear an engineer boasting “We only start modelling our stuff when the architects have finally stopped changing things, which basically never happens!”
  • Architects are often known to assume more responsibility than they should in the BIM model because “the engineer hasn’t started modelling yet”
  • Projects are more likely to be profitable because re-work is kept to a minimum.

CONSTRUCTION (Our Problem Solvers and Building Makers)

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  • Can often be quite unsympathetic to the plight of the architect.
  • Known to be frustrated with trying to marry the ideals/visions of the artist with the practicality and affordability of project outcomes
  • Can be less precious about design and concentrates more business/ profitability of building of actual project.
  • In cases where the construction firm is also the client a much larger focus is placed on design but the profits of owning the final building product can help wear some of the design variations more easily than normal Architect/ Design firms can.
  • Tends to dominate the BIM delivery if they are the project client, especially since they benefit directly from the mandates that are made.
  • Are often not consulted right until costing stage of the project which can create disjoin in the BIM integration workflow and result in potential variations later in final project design stage.
  • Generally less focussed on the practical processes, workflows, documentation hours required to achieve BIM models and more attached on the end result of deliverables.
  • Can be labelled as the bully in the play yard. A Construction Manager might argue “It’s the Architect’s problem if he can’t fight back or argue for more commissions if it takes longer to build a LOD 400 model!”
  • Focussed on getting the job done.
  • Often frustrated with high pressure deadlines and problem solving on the run. Dealing with unexpected variables on site and undefined decisions that the Architects or Engineers might have missed along the way.

QUANTITY SURVEYORS (Our Wizards)

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  • I have always said that QS is a ‘black art’ filled with a keen sense of grounded intuition and complex calculations and considerations of costing, time lines and deliverables.
  • Highly skilled at allowing for all kinds of variables within the construction process.
  • Whilst they are referring to the BIM models more these days to check sizes and quantities I do still believe that much of what a QS manages to do and calculate cannot be defined on a sheet or in a drawing.
  • They are reasonably isolated on most BIM projects and their specific needs are largely unquantified within the industry in terms of general industry understanding of exactly what they need.
  • Creating data for QS’s in terms of costing can often be ineffective or almost meaningless since they often have their own highly intricate costing schedules and formulas that extend far beyond the purchase price.

FACILITIES MANAGERS (Our Asset Carer)

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  • Easily forgotten in the process of BIM
  • Often inundated with far too much unnecessary data and poor management of digital data.
  • Their biggest challenge is being able to allocate the appropriate data easily without having to step over endless amounts of excessive data that is simply not relevant.

SOFTWARE INDUSTRY (The Powerful Industry Persuader)

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  • Highly reliant on marketing with extreme effectiveness and ruthless precision to sell their software solutions.
  • They are leveraging of their opportune timing of being able to facilitate BIM collaboration with the use of digital technology.
  • I believe that the Software Giants in this industry sector are deliberately slowing down the pace at which solutions are being released to the industry to some degree. This may sound cynical – I know – but it’s simple business. If the software industry committed to creating an integrated/universal BIM solution within the next 24 months they would not make the same money than if they drag this process out for years on end. Much like the health industry – they make more money when their clients are sick or in need of care.
  • Of course the best way to drag out arriving at any universal BIM solution is to convince their clients that they are unique and that they ‘need’ a customised solution to meet their specific aesthetic and client data needs. They need to persuade the client that a single integrated solution is not possible and they spend a lot of money every year doing exactly that!
  • Improvements in BIM software must be regular and incremental to keep industry hope alive that the BIM challenge could possibly become easier to manage one day. They might call it “clever marketing strategies to ensure long-term viability of their product”
  • The software industry holds the key, resources, capital and skills to many of the digital tools that could redefine BIM in a very short period of time if they had the incentive to do so.
  • Unfortunately BIM Software giants thrive when our industry is misaligned and confused. This is because we are not united in holding them more accountable for improving the speed and efficiency with which to solve the technical aspect of the BIM dilemma.

With all these different industry personalities in our building BIM project environment it becomes obvious why creating a BIM solution would be an extreme challenge. The issue of why BIM is taking longer to solve in the building industry (as opposed to the car industry, as an example) becomes far more apparent. In the car industry the Client is the Manufacturer, Designer and Engineer, their values and agenda are aligned and easily mandated.

Perhaps the best way forward for BIM to really excel in our industry is for the industry to redefine the context within which we interact and to quantify exactly what they cost is when we are not a united front? Maybe it is time for everyone to “own our stuff” and to reflect on whether we are really doing as well as we would like to pretend that we are.

Our industry is not a bad one to work in but I have observed that it can be quite petty, judgmental, arrogant and very egotistical. It seems to me that everyone is so busy making sure that their turf, their job, and their fixed way of being is protected that no one is really working towards true integration for BIM, the project and most importantly – the various project teams and their client. I would like that to change and to see that every team throughout the lifecycle of a BIM project is winning and that some BIM teams are not falling through the cracks so easily. BimBoomBam_Revit_UpsideDownBim-9

Perhaps our goal should not be Building Information Modelling but Building Integration Modelling? Well – that’s enough of my philosophical ramblings… I hope this has also been food for thought for someone else out there in this big wide world.

Let another ripple go forth and make this a better industry to work in by sharing this post if it resonates with you on some level  ;-)

~ MVK

ARE WE MAKING REVIT/ BIM TOO COMPLICATED?

I am greatly concerned about the general industry trend where firms are simply adding too much clutter/data/detail/ additional functionality to their families and models without enough rigorous thought about exactly why they feel the need to do this.

BIMBOOMBAM_Revit_OopsObjects and projects are becoming overly complicated to interact with. A family with 50 or even 100 parameters is becoming the norm and parametric functionality is assumed as an almost automatic requirement. Almost every dimension can be scheduled in projects and the detailing levels of Revit families just seem to keep increasing. I think that this approach is a really bad idea. The more complex we make Revit/BIM objects or projects – the more conscious and subconscious decisions are required just to interact and navigate through the model environment.

Here are some thoughts on possibly rethinking how we evaluate why and how we choose to build company systems and Revit content:

TIP #1 – How is our Revit/ BIM content impacting project workflows?

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Before following the BIM industry frenzy of adding more and more detail into projects, schedules and component libraries maybe ask this question:

  • Why are we adding more complex families to our libraries and what proportion of the drafting team does this impact?
    • If it solves a problem for one team member that does detailing but creates a headache for the remaining 20 people on the team then it might not be the best solution and perhaps 2D detailing in combination with simpler Revit families should be considered instead.

TIP #2Beware of creating unnecessarily complicated Revit content

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Bear in mind:

  • The more data your families hold, the more data drafting teams will have to manage, maintain and update.
  • The more complicated your families are (in model, detail or data form) – the more advanced the drafters will need to be in using Revit in order to be able to interact with or edit your content. These families will also be more likely to break as well when drafters try to edit them.
  • If you have a high staff turnover (this requires honest reflection) then consider building a Revit/BIM strategy that caters for inexperienced to intermediate Revit users instead of needing advanced Revit users. Basic to intermediate Revit users are cheaper and easier to replace than trying to find ‘Revit guns’ for every project.
  • You will also need a highly skilled content creator to manage your library if it is very complicated to edit and maintain. Such specialized skills might be harder to find.

TIP #3 – Avoid creating Revit content that is designed to step over training issues within your firm.

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It can be very tempting to create families that do some of the more complicated tasks automatically for the drafters simply in the aim to reduce risks and improve accuracy. To some degree this can be smart and in other ways it can also result in families that are possibly too detailed and cumbersome to work with because they are doing so much.

  • Try not to absolve drafting teams from all accountability. Sometimes making a few conscious decisions along the way can be helpful prompts to assist drafting teams to make informed design decisions.
  • Whilst highly detailed Revit families can be used to overcome shortcomings in staff knowledge I would suggest that firms instead invest in (1) a well-considered and thoroughly audited details library and (2) technical drafting training for their staff instead.

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“Just because we CAN doesn’t mean we SHOULD…”

Hope that this has been useful food for thought.

Michelle

TEETHING PROBLEMS – GC to Revit – My response

QUESTION FROM READER: I’ve integrated the GC tool (thanks to the Revit conference contacts!) into an elective class starting early next year and am working with some Masters students using this and Rhino’s Grasshopper tool.
There are still teething problems with the integration back to Revit (or into a BIM workflow is more accurate I guess) and would appreciate and comments on this.

MY RESPONSE:

Hi David

I will just quickly respond to your question – in brief – and say the following:

I am okay with the GC model remaining in DWG format with the Revit model. (I know this is technically not best practice – but I think in this instance the pros out way the cons. I would say in response to your question that I am also okay with GC generating all the required BIM data for the GC part of the model. whilst the Revit model generates the data for all Revit related model.

In that sense I do think that we need to reconsider the purist approach/ ideal that so many have clung to for so long…

The more I get to grips with BIM the more I believe that BIM should not be so much a single model driven solution as much as it should be a database- associated-with-a-collaborative- collection-of-models-solution.  (Ha-ha … A new term for scrabble fans ;-p)

My point being that the ideal of cramming every single bit of information into a single model environment (even per discipline) might – potentially- be too idealistic given the current limitations within software’s from various sources to integrate fully.

I hope this answers your questions in some form.

  • Essentially my approach would be to build a Revit model where appropriate
  • Import a GC model (in DWG) where Revit cannot generate the require form and complexity
  • Generate automatic Fabrication plans (AMEN!!!!!) through GC and import into Revit to keep documentation output set tidy. (This will become an ongoing management task – since the GC will not remain live if changes are made. But I think it can be managed with good ol’ fashioned communication ;-)
  • Schedules for Revit model obviously come from Revit
  • Schedules for GC model from GC- Since the GC form could not be generated in Revit (And if it could you would obviously do it in Revit – unless GC fabrication plans where still a requirement) So in that case import schedules into Revit or even better… export all relevant data into a neutral database environment.

That would be my plan of attack… which I’m sure might ruffle a few feathers – but hey there’s always more than one way to achieve an out come.

I hope that was helpful and has answered your question for the most part.

I would just say that I would not waste hours of my life converting a GC model into Revit massing (Apply by face) unless it was really-really worth while. And I can’t imagine when it would be…mmmm… Sure it means you will need to dimension the GC model every time you re-load but my response to that would be – dimension the GC model in detail only when it’s resolved!

GC is a very specific software that should be used to generative a unique range of forms that currently Revit and other 3d modeling software’s currently cannot.  Sure – there is some time lost in rework of dimensions… but hey – I wouldn’t be game to try model some of the GC forms in Revit. Apart from the fact that you must remember that the BUZZ about GC is it’s ASSOCIATIVE, LIVE and can generate new forms based on new formulas or constraints. Use it’s strengths and adapt your BIM solution accordingly. That would be my approach.

I’d be happy to approve your comments and findings if you wish to share them on this blog in future. Mm… I did say it was going to be a short response – I cant seem to help myself sometimes!!! Have fun.

Cheers for now

Michelle.

 

Great Generative Component links – Explore some more

To All

I am adding this reply as a seperate post as my blog tends to hide replies in a logical place (below original comment ;-p) ….. but some of these useful links may not show up instantly to a new reader – so forgive any duplication.

Hi David

I’m glad to read that you are exploring GC!

To be honest I’m a bit snowed under right now to add much more on the Revit and GC challenges and benefits. Testing and learning more about GC has gone on the back burner for a while since I am working on an international project that was nominated at the RTC this year.

As you would know I am part of the committee that is working towards trying to define some best practices & standards/ guidelines for Revit content across Australia and New Zealand.  The project is proving to be a bit of a beast but we are making some progress ;-)

Fergus or Sean (from Bentley) have offered to be of assistance to anyone wanting to explore GC in more detail. Here are some links they sent me a few days ago that I hope may prove useful to curious GC fans….

You are most welcome to add any finding of your testing to this blog as I’m sure other readers would be excited to hear what you discover along the way. I have also invited Sean to comment to any of your responses on my blog should they pop up.

The video from the RTC GC demo is now up on the Bentley website at http://www.bentley.com/en-AU/Promo/ANZBIM/

www.bentley.com/anz-bim

The direct link to the GC demo video stream (which we covered at RTC in my talk segment this year) is:

http://www.bentley.com/bentleywebsite/files/streaming_media/verticals/Building/gcdemo_nocaptions.asx

To contact Fergus or Sean please email Fergus at Fergus.Dunn@bentley.com and he will direct emails accordingly.

Best of luck and please let us know how it all goes!

THANK YOU TO GC TEST TEAM

Again I would like to thank a team of people who also assisted me along the way with being able to present Generative Components this year in my talk.

 Stephen Taskin – Associate    [Altis Architecture]

Many of us have known Stephen for years in the Revit world. He has spoken on advanced Revit Modeling several times before at RTC. As always Stephen loves pushing the boundaries of what’s possible so of course it was not hard to get him to join me in this exploration. Thanks Stephen – I know you have been so busy!

  •  Fergus Dunn – Building Industry Director – Aus/NZ
  • Sean Dodsworth – Building Consultant –

[Both from Bentley Systems]

 I would also like to give a special thanks to Sean and Fergus. They have gone out of their way to make sure our Revit audience will get value from the GC demo at RTC in a context that does not detract from Revit in any way.

How GC models behave inside Revit files

How GC models behave inside Revit files

A special thanks to Lars Moth-Poulsen who is an Application Engineer at Bentley Systems, who did a great job in building the demonstration model and who is also a great teacher of GC concepts ;-)

http://www.bentley.com/en-AU/Markets/Building/GenerativeComponents/more_info.htm

GENERATIVE COMPONENTS – DWG EXPORT TIPS

DWG> GENERIC FAMILY > INTO REVIT PROJECT

  •  Massing cannot be applied to surfaces
  • But there seems no need to be able to do that
  • Cuts in all views
  • Can dimension. Aligned dimensions work best – since twist can cause elements to no longer be parallel to screen work plane. Arcs can be dimensioned if cut, like Revit. Create point as work around.
  • Better when updated, since massing is not reformed.
  • Obviously changes made on reload will mean dimensions are lost. Small price to pay for flexibility and re-generation speed of form
  • Fabrication plans can be imported into Revit
  • Fabrication readings of x,y and z co-ordinates can be reported in schedule format through GC.
  • Layers can be switched off in VG to create various set-out drawings – like structural versus glazing etc.

 GC Export

Here are some tips of best settings from Sean Dodsworth (Bentley Solutions) when saving the GC model into a DWG format that is best for Revit®

GENERATIVE COMPONENTS – How to import into Revit

When doing some testing about how to best bring a GC model (3D-DWG format) into a Revit file we came to the following colcusions:

Essentially we had two option:

DWG IMPORT DIRECTLY INTO PROJECT

  •  It is treated as one complete object. Elements cannot be selected individually
  • No massing can be applied
  • Less control when trying to dimension to it.

 DWG> MASSING FAMILY> INTO PROJECT

 Loaded into Project file

  • Makes reloading easier and accurate since origin point and offsets are already defined. Bring dwg in the same place in family. Then okay.
  • Can apply massing to the elements, but it can be a bit tricky due to the complex nature of some forms.
  • When form is changed, the massing in Revit disassociates since the reference in no longer the same. (Linking not an option in Revit family files) Massing elements can be re-associated to dwg.
  • Updates will drop dimension
  • Layers can be switched off in VG to create various set-out drawings – like structural versus glazing etc.

GENERATIVE COMPONENTS

I wanted to introduce a software solution that creates some impressive massing forms that go beyond parametric design and move into associative relationships.

Generative Components - Conference Pilot

  • It offers unique forms that are based on formulas and point driven relationships. Building associated relationships that literally dictate the form. By changing an association the form quickly morphs into a new shape.
  • I am not introducing this software to propose we ditch Revit – obviously – but it is potentially a useful tool – just like Sketch up, Inventor or Rhino.
  • I see it could be used for an architectural feature, like an awning, sculpture, sky light or even part of the building form.
  • It can be brought into Revit. We have done some testing and I will include our findings in the next few posts.

BIM ASIA 2009 – FEB 2009 – SINGAPORE – SPECIAL PRICE

 I recently spoke to Richard Wang and Jack Lee from Tonkin Corporation in Sydney. They told me that there is a Building Information Conference called BIM ASIA 2009 being held in Singapore in late February and they are looking to encourage Australian companies to attend.

I found it interesting to hear that this event has been designed to focus on understanding and grappling with the strategy of implementing BIM (As a business case) rather than being another technical, software-specific focussed event. I am told that the classes will be presented in English so it may be an event that you may wish to attend? (I’m told it is also sponsored by Autodesk, Consoft and Tekla.)

I have offered to add this information to my blog as an extended invitation from Richard and TONKIN CORPORATION to join their event. I don’t think I will be able to attend but I look forward to hearing from Richard and any other attendants how it went.  Please see PDF attached for the details of the event. 

PLEASE NOTE: Jack lee has offered a unique offer to any Australian attendees that have not yet registered and that pay in full by 6th of February 2009. The conference price has been reduced to au$1500.00 per person, if you use the promotional code at the top of the registration form on the pdf below. (That is virtually HALF PRICE!)

Also you can pay the registration fee at any Commonwealth Bank in Australia and you don’t need to transfer money to Singapore to register.

CLICK PDF link to open download window and once more (in new window) to open: building-information-modelling-asia-2009

If you have any questions about the conference please contact

Jack Lee (General Manager)  

TONKIN CORPORATION

jack.lee@tonkincorporation.com

http://www.tonkincorporation.com/

TO ALL WHO DO ATTEND ~ TRAVEL SAFELY & WE LOOK FORWARD TO READING ABOUT YOUR INSIGHTS AND IDEAS ;-)

BENTLEY & BIM

CLICK HERE TO VIEW SLIDES:  bentleyslides

Recently I went to a Bentley event to find out more about Bentley Architecture. Fergus Dunn provided some great slides which I think summarize the process and opportunities of BIM quite well. Thanks to Bentley and Fergus for sharing these slides with me and giving me permission to add these slides to my blog. I walked away from the event being impressed with some of the unique features that belong to Bentley Architecture such as spaces and the amazing ability to create mesh forms by using points in 3d. Of course I remain a fan of Revit but I believe there’s the right tool for the right task and I think that it’s important to remain open to all BIM capable software’s that are out there in the industry.

To find out more about Bentley Architecture go to: www.bentley.com.au