Archive for category Virtual Construction

Design Build Boom : AECOM acquires Tishman : #BIM

I have suggested among others that the optimum work flow could be architects focus on the design, not construction docs or the BIM, but the design and then consult during the actual engineering and BIM process, that way it minimizes redundant efforts especially in regards to BIM creation.  This process also would suggest the rise of design/build firms.  AECOM just took a huge bite out of that apple when terms were disclosed yesterday that they agreed to acquire Tishman for $245 Million Dollars creating a design/build behemoth.  Strategically, vertical integration is a double edged sword.  Positively, you have control of costs and quality and capture every last dime a developer was intending to put into the project.  Negatively, you have to feed the beast and can you really be that good at all disciplines?

On a side note, I was speaking to an integration specialist at Bentley who told me AECOM was a Microstation shop.  This may be because back in the day the US Government was using a lot of Microstation and AECOM gets the majority of their work from the public sector.  Tishman, and I am only speculating here, was most likely Revit.  Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) used Revit at World Trade and Tishman was on as construction.  Quick google search shows they still seem to use it on current projects.  Future projects and technology they use could be a proxy for the industry.

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BIM : Explode Value Engineering : #BIM #AIA #Revit

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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BIM sure to bring creative disruption: #BIM

I wanted to bring some attention to a recent article in the Daily Commercial News & Construction Record by Korky Koruluk, and included the first 2 paragraphs below.

Once in a generation, perhaps, a new technology comes along that enables rapid innovation and change. Sometimes, too, such change leads to a whole new batch of companies that pursue the changes aggressively, while their older, larger competitors are still trying to figure out what happened.

I’ve a hunch that Building Information Modeling—BIM—is one such technology. And I suspect that it is going to cause problems for some firms that have, perhaps, become too comfortable in their own markets.

Transformative technology has led to major disruption in the past, and there may still be a few construction veterans around who remember at least the tail end of one big one: the evolution of mechanical excavators.

Clay Christensen, a professor at the Harvard Business School, wrote an influential book in 1997 called “The   Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail.”

I don’t think this is so much a warning anymore but a reaffirmation of what most firms in the A/E/C space realize which it is now time to invest in technology to help you manage projects better but also help differentiate you in the marketplace.  If last 1/4 is any indication of the next one, the market will remain squirrelly and cost at bid and cost controls will be the defining factor and whatever tool will help you lock that down, get it, use it, win it.

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Nemetschek and Tekla Join Forces : #BIM

Tekla and Nemetschek recently announced a ‘mutual agreement on cooperation’ while I’m not sure what that means, the press release states it provides the framework for collaborating on future projects.  Tekla mainly focuses on the design to construction of steel and concrete structures where as Nemetschek focuses on the BIM authoring side with Vectorworks.

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BIM, There’s an App for that: #BIM

What is the future of BIM?  While this may seem premature as many people are new to BIM and IPD and their implications we can see parallels in the computer industry itself.  And we look at the computer industry what we are really looking at is the storage/management and use of data since the computer is only a tool and if we are not using it really its just a paperweight.

The computer originally was used to compute data, numbers, and one of its first big hits for mass consumption was Visi-Calc, an electronic spreadsheet that did the math for you, which took the place of paper.  That was good.  The spread sheets got more robust in power and features.  New entrants came in, remember Lotus 1-2-3.  It started getting really popular and more entrants came in, Microsoft brought out Excel, and now Microsoft Office, which Excel is a part of is the main revenue generator for the company.  Companies were created to add functionality to these programs, in templates and automated worksheets, bolt ons and the like.  It became such a big industry that a consortium lead by Sun created Open Office, free for the taking.  Google then created its own spreadsheet program on the Web utilizing cloud computing.  And google, if anything, is about the data, and cloud computing with its data available to all allows firms and individuals to add value with products and services and bid on projects immediately accessible to them.

BIM is the format for data that will allow this same revolution take hold in the A/E/C Community.  And its already starting to happen.  The building in 3D allows all sorts of data to be embedded or available in the project.  Revit, Microstation, ArchiCAD all allow you to build on a 3D platform.  Navisworks for collision detection, Ecotect or IES for performance analysis, etc.  Now with the adoption and creation a new data portability standards IFCxml, AGCxml, etc. it starts to become easier to work cross platform.  Companies like Onuma are working on BIM servers that will host the models so everyone can start to work together.  Once the BIM gets up in the cloud it afford more firms to add value through products and services.

Andersen comes up with an app that can pick out the windows and provide bids for replacement windows, with ROI and energy savings calculators built in, Trane same thing for retrofitting.  Contractors can bid on the digital projects, anyone who fabricates or installs building products can so digitally. Rendering firms, etc.  The building becomes the operating system that people build on.  This type of platform breaks up the hegemony that is Autodesk, but that acquire companies to fortify it, like the purchase of Naviswork and Ecotoect so you can program a building from design to destruction within their family but their business model will also have to shift.  IBM made the transition to a powerful services vendor.  But you need to get energy analysis on a building, get bids on a new roof, find a new commercial cleaner, yea there will be an app for that.

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BIM on The Front End : GC’s Paving the Way :#BIM

Most likely if you’re reading this post you’ve drank the cool aid and believe in BIM and Revit, you’re a convert, but what has been come fantastically apparent is the need to educate the need for it on the front end, and why the 20/80 rule may not apply, that is 20% soft costs, 80% building.  We have seen where productivity has been stagnant within the construction industry, because more elaborate buildings, systems, etc. using the same technology for scheduling, drafting, design negated any other positive gains.  On the flip side people are reporting such massive prodcutivity gains by using BIM and Revit you would think that any owner/developer would be demanding it on the front end and willing to pay for it, cue the GSA, State of Wisconsin, State of Texas, etc.  However, there is still a huge knowledge gap.

GC’s are paving the way for BIM.  They know that in order to do the work that is being created they have to be on board with Revit and BIM and they will be the ones ultimately responsible for the task, coordination and updating of the BIM.

The GC will use Revit as a cost savings tool.  How does this effect the developer/owner?  Might be invisible to them, as in, the process works like they expect it to, more often than not projects coming in on-time and on-budget, more competitive bids with firms knowing they can reduce problems (see zero defect building) digitally, and schedule better.  It’s a nail gun instead of a hammer.

Which brings me to the legal liability side of BIM, which I know nothing about but feel like I need to comment on, and I will tell you why.

I was preparing for a meeting with a University we did some work for, as they wanted to see what Revit could do for them as they asked for existing conditions plans in Revit just so they had the information/data about the building.  This was an architectural BIM with an RCP.  I called a friend who has nice sized GC firm that does a lot of academic work and asked if they could share some success stories about using Revit that I could share in my presentation.

He put me in touch with their MEP coordinator, who first told me his history.  He had his own HVAC install company for 20 years, went back to school to be trained in AutoCAD, and got other certificates (too many acronyms for me to remember), and then got trained up in Revit 2 years ago.  He had been with this firm for 10 years, so figure at around 50 he’s knocking this stuff out of the park.  He explained how he used to coordinate all the plans in AutoCAD, put each discipline on a a different layer/color and then go to work determining the issues in 2D.  Using Revit he would model everything in 3D, and since he was from the industry knew drain slopes, HVAC runs, etc. and without using collision detection software was finding stuff, such beam penetrations and drains intersecting with footings that you could imagine a ton of time/money.  GC’s will use it because it is a better tool.

Here’s the legal part for those of you scratching your head.  In his most recent project the architect said they had modeled the whole thing in Revit but would not share the model with him and only sent out the 2D plans.  Somewhere there’s a screw loose and it has to be on the liability front.  His thought was they were using young modelers that were not grounded in the profession so the interaction between everything would not be completely apparent to them so assumptions when modeling were not correct.  The contractor themselves might want to model it themselves because they would then have more confidence in the model.  However, when #1 cost for interoperability which is in the billions is the manual reentering of data you would hope this issue is being worked on to be resolved.

How’s this breaks out financially between firms and how much of a building’s cost moves to the virtual construction department?  Well I’ll start digging but if any reader out there has some data please post, as it will help us all sell projects.

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Biting the BIM Bullet: Another Success Story #BIM

Winter Street Architects in Salem describing how Revit is helping them to achieve their best year ever.

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If you haven’t done it by now, you better get to it!  Or fall so far behind you may never be able to catch up.  Bite the BIM bullet.  It’s the future of the building industry and the future is now or just around the corner.  Our firm swallowed the BIM pill way back in 2003, a year after Revit was first introduced to the market by AutoDesk…(See the whole post)

http://winterstreetarchitects.wordpress.com/2009/08/20/biting-the-bim-bullet/

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The Rise of Virtual Construction: #BIM

When I first started my company at one of our presentations after explaining we could capture as-builts in 3D, then ADT, now Revit, one of the architects in the room stood up and emphatically said, “we don’t want ANY Z-axis information.”  To which I replied, “not a problem we can flatten all the drawings.”  But that response still resonates with me, how could anyone not want Z- axis information, how come you would want me to strip all the meta data of an object to just a block, to which I have found out, you do not mess with the workflow of an architect’s office so it is of little surprise that construction mangers seem to be the current biggest adopters of BIM and Revit as they are ultimately on the hook for cost management.  With that said you have construction managers around the country opening up virtual construction offices to figure out the design, reduce collisions, schedule sub-contracts, etc. before a shovel is ever put in the ground.  This is a big change in the zeitgeist since before everyone looked at soft costs, (i.e. engineering and design) as some fuzzy math and did not appreciate it as much as pouring concrete or erecting steel, as that was at least the physical embodiment of the money developers put up.  Getting digital files that could fit on a thumb drive just did not seem big enough.  Virtual construction has proven itself to pay for itself may times over through quicker build time, less collisions, better decision making, etc and BIM is enabling it.  Viva la Z Axis.

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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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BIM : Contractors Reporting Big ROI

I the May/June Addition of Constructor Magazine, there are some excellent examples of Contractors using BIM.    One high light was that over 1/3 responded with over 100% ROI.  And more and more your finding contractors creating whole departments, aptly and somewhat spookily called “Virtual Construction Departments”.  I guess I find it spooky in the sense that so many in the disciplines  thought if you were not pouring concrete or putting steel up you were not adding value, however, with BIM we are starting to see a tremendous effort on the front end.

Gilbane Building in Providence found over 1,445 clashes in a 96,000 SF data center saving the owner over $800,000 in resolved issues.  All in they believed they saved the owner more than $1,000,000 while investing only $63,000 in BIM expenses.  Half of which was creating a BIM from 2D documents, etc.

Great Stuff, Read the Article.

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