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Steve Jobs : Bus Driver

I’m going to miss Steve Jobs.  Why?  I did not know Steve Jobs, never spoke with him but only knew him, like most of us, through his and his people’s creations at Apple, Pixar and I guess to a degree at NeXT.  Steve Jobs was a visionary, and that is not a title that can be handed out, it has to be earned and he earned it.  I always felt good knowing that he was out there, driving what’s next, driving the bus and the fact is, I don’t know who’s going to be the next driver and that makes me sad and like anyone’s passing I am sad that his family and friends will no longer be able to enjoy his company.

On life, and death. Everything else is secondary. Steve Jobs’ 2005 commencement speech at Stanford:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

“Don’t cry that it’s over.  Smile because it happened” – Dr. Seuss.

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“Owners have to be willing to spend more upfront” : Suffolk saves over $800K on one project. #BIM #Revit

Soft costs.  Used to be that 20% of any one project was the yardstick for soft costs, design, engineering, etc.  And it always seemed like it was the money that owners/developers loathe to spend.  Think about it ‘soft costs’ even the term makes you want to get rid of it or squash it.  But we are getting closer to full BIM embrace and a recent post on the Building Design Construction Web Site which highlighted some of Suffolk Construction’s experience using BIM.  Says Peter Campot, President of the Healthcare/Science and Technology division of New England’s Suffolk Construction

We need to transition from design as you go to a design and construction process.  We reinvent the wheel everyday right now. Would you ride in an airplane that was a prototype? Buildings are the same way, each is a one-off, but if you build it virtually you’ll build it right. Value-engineering, I would argue, is neither. If we get the construction model right there ARE no RFIs. Higher quality is what I care about. I’m in a reference business.  We need a paradigm shift. We need to restructure and transform the industry. Owners have to be willing to spend more upfront. It does come back to them in the end.

Jeff Yoder’s on his post goes on to state that Suffolk uses BIM on every project over $10M.  They use clash detection on every BIM project and recommend full BIM on any project over $50M.  They also purchased ipads for all their full time employees and use over 50 BIM related technologies and software.

What would be interesting to know is to see a costs schedule of building the ‘typical’ way and then using virtual construction methods.  For example, how much did a fully realized BIM model cost vs. 2D CD (Construction Doc) package, and then see the costs savings layered on top that.  Let’s get to apples v. apples, dollars v. dollars comparison, but I can’t believe there is any doubt that BIM saves you money, and maybe owners would be willing to split the difference in ‘savings’ or maybe there is a carrot out there the industry can adopt to share the ‘BIM’ winnings.

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Google now to Digitize the Earth and Every Building On it : #BIM #GIS #3D

So trying to digitize every book, and mapping every street was not enough so Google (GOOG) has now gone after the earth and all its GIS data. Matt Rosoff of the San Francisco Chronicle Reports, “Google Attacks Huge New Market with Earth Builder” Google is stretching its brawn into specialized verticals that use to cost $millions to play in.

However, if you look at Autodesk and how it has started to push what they are calling “Reality Capture” and the energy modeling of the existing environment you understand the play.  Additionally, existing buildings are the biggest consumer of energy out there and the first to really to look to identify savings and efficiencies, there is a movement toward 20 by 2020, that is 20% increased efficeiny in commercial buildings by 2020, and capturing/modeling/retrofitting, etc. all part of it.  Well, I’m getting a little bit off topic, let’s repeat the SF Chronicle Headline, “Google Attacks Huge New Market”.  Google starting to frighten anyone yet?

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Autodesk Freewheel : Browser enabled Design Review

Now that’s cool.  While I have not dove into the backend on posting a file and to tag it from a web page, the ability to do that, most excellent.

Full Jump Here: Project Freewheel

Excerpt From The Labs:  Want to view a design, but don’t want to install viewer software? Want to view a design on a Mac, a PDA, a Cell Phone, on Linux, or in Firefox? Would you like to embed a design in your own web page (HTML) and not require visitors to install anything? If so, then the Project Freewheel has the answer. It is both a web site where you can type in an URL for interactive design viewing, and a web service that allows you to embed an interactive design viewer in your own HTML pages.

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Revit As Built : Field BIM : Existing Conditions

While I don’t usually take the time to pump my own gas with this blog I wanted to share the complete reversal in our deliverables over the last year.  It used to be, way back at the end of 2008 that we delivered most of our building surveys in 2D AutoCAD format, now we would build in 3D, normally in ADT but our clients wanted 2D AutoCAD.  From a surveying perspective a 3D object oriented universe worked better for us because essentially all the views were coordinated, that is build it in the floorplan directly, it is represented in elevation correctly.  Anyone who has keyed up a plan in 2D knows where I am coming from, which if you are here reading this, means you know what I am talking about.  Now, however, the bulk of what we do is deliver as-builts in Revit.  The GSA requiring BIM has a lot to do with it, I believe, and Autodesk being the biggest player in the US means Revit becomes the default.  Whether you like that or not does not matter, that’s the reality.

Recently we have performed as built surveys at Phillips Exeter and Emmanuel College and we were field testing our laser to BIM technology, PKNail.  It was created to capture typical conditions quickly and accurately.  If you wanted to capture the Capitol Dome, I would suggest laser scanning, for capturing most situations Point to Point Laser Scanning (PPLT) should work just fine.  PKNail converts measurements directly into a Revit workstation-wirelessly, measure a wall that wall is entered into Revit, encounter a door, window, Fire Extinguisher Cabinet, sink, if you can measure it, it can be placed quickly and easily into the model.

Lastly, if the deliverable is 2D CAD, exporting views from Revit to AutoCAD sheets is a snap. Here’s a long winded Autodesk treatise on the subject or well, it looks like I will need to update with a screen capture video the quick process but the resulting CAD contains some of the meta information collected in 3D, such as 30″ Door, rather than creating anonymous objects.   Next post will follow in short order with a sneak peak of some of the features and the connectivity between Revit and a Leica Disto enabled by PointKnown surveying software.

Thanks for tolerating some self promotion.

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Keynes vs Hayek : Opposing Economic Theories Rap Throw Down

Keynes vs Hayek : Opposing Economic Theories Rap Throw Down, too good to pass up.  Summarizes two opposing camps quicker and better than, well…most.
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BIM Projects Coming in 10% Lower –> IPD 20% Lower

A recent post by Dennis Neeley on Reed Construction Data states that recent reports show projects coming in at 10% for building drafted in a BIM format, and 20% lower for those using IPD and integrating the disciplines digitally.  However, Dennis goes on later on in the article to note, and rightly so, that operating costs of a building during its lifetime start to dwarf the construction costs.  And that correct data about existing facilities and the better management of those assets can show savings from 20% to 40%.  However, still one of the biggest issues, and one I touch on frequently,  is interoperability, the development of standards and standardized objects.  I also think there is an opportunity for manufacturers who provide excellent objects to designers can start see quicker adoption of there products and decreased sales cycles as consumers of those digital objects are already educated about the product and using them in their models.

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“Capturing existing building conditions accurately and efficiently is one of the keys to success for a renovation project.”   That’s straight from the Autodesk video.

However, when they go over the methods for documenting existing conditions…

Existing Conditions Methods

Autodesk Existing Condition Methods

I’d like to add PKNail, because I would argue that it’s tough to be accurate without measuring something.  Sure that’s a bit self serving, but we’ve all been there, dragging lines, using different colored pens, sketching with gloves on, or trying to use a laptop in the field, and we are fired up for the release, because it works, it’s making our job easier, we’re quicker, more accurate, and building Revit models in the field.   measure –>press –>model and were eager to get it into everyone’s hands.

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I am not an architect, nor do I play one on tv I simply have a small company that surveys buildings. While that may not qualify me to design one I have had the benefit of being in hundreds of buildings, surveyed them, see how they were put together, and they functioned with people in them, so with this little bit of information I feel qualified on commenting on architecture in general. And before I start I want to say that I believe architecture has the ability to transform and inspire like few other arts or disciplines because I can walk by a statue without noticing it (which I hope I don’t but were all in a hurry sometimes) but tougher still to ignore the building you are entering, or working in or even passing by, however, with that said I am unfortunately underwhelmed by most buildings I’ve been in or pass by, or have worked in. Too often we exist in a world that is value engineered, that is something has been designed to be produced as inexpensively as possible. I understand that, less expensively built; more people can afford to purchase; we all win, fine. Good in cars and televisions, unfortunate in buildings. We live in a center core, curtain wall efficiency that drains most of the fun, awe and art straight out of a building. And if you are trying to do something inexpensive, yet impressive this too can be a daunting task. But there are examples, artchitect turning shipping containers into homes comes to mind, like Adam Kalkin, Another is a home we surveyed designed by Carl Koch as part of community on Snake Hill. Now personally I thought it was fantastically ugly from the outside, looked like a box, seemed kind of cheap but as I entered the house, which still had all its original materials and finishes I was amazed how everything made sense, nothing wasted, coherent, took advantage of passive solar while providing lots of light and a great view, lines were simple, I was impressed but again this happens so seldom.

However, I have hope more and more architects are designing in 3D, even Architects who never once fired up CAD are embracing SketchUp as way to think and communicate in 3D. BIM allows design to happen digitally and with true BIM packages allows analysis and fabrication to build a building more cost effectively and real ROI metrics for making choices. Now this could be used for good rather than evil by providing hard bids on designs that were thought to cost prohibitive before, or proving new designs digitally and communicating them to developers and owners in 3D convinces them of their merit. What I hope is that ‘value engineering’ ceases to be a proxy for taking all the fun out out of a building but instead becomes part of the process that brings 3D digital design and BIM into reality and physical structures that continue to awe and inspire.

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Squirelly Times Call for BIM: #BIM

Yeah I called them squirelly.   I have  to say Q4 2009 has been better than the rest of them bit I am finding, and getting anecdotes from others in the industry that it is the squirelliest of times, and I’ll try and stop using that.  What do I mean?  I’ve put together more proposals this quarter but am finding that clients are cost conscious to the extreme, and no matter the relationships and reputation you have built up it’s more what have you done for me lately.   Now while its tough environment when someone is out there ready to cut you off at the knees on a bid just to keep busy on an unfortunate race to the bottom what can we do to keep business, get new business and offer our clients more of an incentive to stay with us and or pick up new ones.  In most cases, a BIM enabled firm will be able to offer more services and accurate bids.  A recent article in Construction Week outlined Better Bidding Through Bim. Better bids, better scheduling, projects on time and on budget, proven ROI all make a more persuasive argument.

While economists may argue that this resetting of the market is an efficient allocation of resources and our new reality, it’s time then to efficiently allocate our own.

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