Archive for category architects

Work Smarter not Harder? Graphics Standards? Objects? BIM? Building OS

Practice 2.0: Work Smarter Not Harder Source: http://gapingvoid.com/2007/09/26/simon-phipps-and-hamish-newlands/In a recent article for the IBTimes, David Fano, Practice 2.0: Work Smarter Not Harder, brings up a good point about working together and developing open source systems and standards.  He uses creating a national CAD graphics standard as a jumping off point.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, architects held about 141,200 jobs in 2008 (source). Hypothetically, if each architect in the U.S. spends 30 minutes a year on average working on standards, as a profession we spend 70,600 hours on standards every year. Just for reference there are 2,080 hours per year in a standard full-time work week (52 weeks x 40 hours). That’s like a firm of 34 full time architects working on nothing but standards every year.

This same thing is happening on a larger scale with BIM.  Each camp developing its own standards, objects and regardless of IFC, are not really good at speaking to each other. Even within a BIM platform, such as Revit, you have modelers who will build window families different from each other, now I’m all for artisans, but this seems to be going a bit far.  Now if we want to get to a liquid marketplace where each contractor can bid on a building, or component of a building for construction, fabrication or service we need an open platform that everyone can tie into.  What we have are ‘readers’ or ‘compilers’ like Navisworks or now BIM Sight from Tekla/Trimble which can suck in disparate information and display it, good, that’s a good step, but you then don’t do ‘something’ in these products and are they added back to the model, it’s another step to update the model with work that might be done, in stead of giving specific permission to a ‘contractor’ to update the model with the work that was done.  Perhaps, will have a ton of translators doing the work of minions, but for now there is still a ton of customization, which is good, but without a common standard, a lot of re-work and cross entry and translation (which is bad).

But the short answer to John’s query about an open source approach to the industry, “yeah, right on!”

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Business Rant : One of Many: #BIM #AIA

30%, that’s the figure that keeps coming back to me, business is down 30% and competitive bids are 30% less than what they used to be.  I even had firms we do business with in India essentially say, “I am not going down the rathole.” You have got to be creative to deal with it.  It reminds of a an accounting professor in business school who extolled, “all costs are variable,” not really but you get the point.  Renegotiate rents, bargain with your workforce, create partnerships to fill holes, man it stretches the imagination which is good, however there is no reality like payroll, and rent, and insurance, etc.  There was a recent article in the Las Vegas Business Press, “From Boom to Bust,” that echoes these themes.  One GC stated that, ‘Our revenue in 2010 will be slightly less than half of what it was in 2008.” Bidders on projects have multiplied by 3, and successful bids seemed to be 40% below 2008 highs.

“Cash flow is the king during a recession,” Perini Building Co. Vice Chairman Dick Rizzo said. “As the economy shrinks, prompt payment is important. In some cases, it’s the only source of income to subcontractors and vendors.”  This statement brings me to my next point, when did we ever, and architecture firms I am looking at you, get to a point where this statement is the norm, ‘you get paid when we get paid.’  Holy $$$$.  This is patently ridiculous.  There was a good article in the Boston Business Journal that said free lancers and sub contractors are spending as much time tracking down payments and getting paid as they did on the actual project.  So looking at that vice of lower winning bids and taking forever to get paid what’s a small business to do?  You can whine about it, not much help, or try and figure it out.  I don’t even say make lemonade from lemons, this is strictly survive than thrive.  To the ‘you get paid when we get paid’ again who ever agreed to that, but if your on the short end of that scenario consider starting a relationship with a factor, otherwise known a receivable financing, different companies specialize for different industries and even by size of receivables but there is one out there for you.  They will take 1-3 points monthly but nothing like cash flow.  As for some of the advice you get such as put penalties in your contract, talk directly to payroll, etc. most them will stay with the partly line, and a lot replace contracts you may have put together with their own which certainly does not have any late payment penalties.

As for multiple bidders and reduced winning bids, know your costs, use BIM, be ready for hard bids.  It’s telling that GCs are the early adopters to BIM, Revit and the like and embracing their 4D and 5D aspects.

Partner up, can you still offer the same level or service as you could in 2008?  Can you offer more today?  More companies may be more willing to work together.  Like I tell my kids, ‘the answer is always no unless you ask.’

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Summer Thaw, Projects on the Rise: #BIM

I have always thought companies like mine are like the canaries in the coal mine for part of the industry, like box companies as an indicator for the overall economy.  When companies start ordering more boxes they are expecting to ship more product.  Our company surveys buildings and provides as builts in both 3D BIM and 2D CAD formats.  When times are flush we operate much like others enjoying the benefit, but as projects start to dry up, firms will immediately pull back outsourcing to keep employees busy rather than laying them off.  This impacts us greatly.  When the economy turns the inverse is true, and firm wary of hiring yet or not having enough stuff turn to us to augment their services without increasing head count.  While I might argue that might be a prudent way to do business generally we ride the tide like everyone else.  Having said that there has been a very perceptible uptick in business and companies asking us for proposals.  More germane to the BIM world is people asking about Revit and asking for more Revit deliverables.  A University even asked us after our presentations to deliver their dorms in Revit even though they did not even have an installed seat of Revit but wanted to plan for the future.  Yesterday an architect I spoke to said they are now doing 70% of their work in Revit and that clients love seeing their projects in 3D, so even with the economic benefits of working in BIM are real no one should discount the importance of visual communication.  This has been a rough ride but I believe more strongly than ever that a fundamental shift has taken place in the building and design community and investing now in training in BIM will pay dividends well into the future.

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Wisconsin requiring BIM: Could Oregon be next

BIM continues to go mainstream and being picked up in the press.  Check out this article in the Daily Journal of Commerce from Portland, Ore.  When refering to 2D CAD the architect interviewed refered to is as “designosaur”, first time I’ve heard that.

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Is green the color of recovery for architects?

This is the title of a recent article in the Boston Business Journal.  “Once the money starts to flow, architects will be busiest retrofitting existing buildings to meet current environmental building codes and industry standards for energy efficieny, as cost effective alternatives to building from scartch,” said Nancy Jenner director of the Boston Society of Architects.

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