Thursday, December 27, 2007

Six Phases of Revit

Alright Aaron this ones for you...

Six Phases of Revit Copyright 2003 Chris Zoog

Phase One - Initial Excitement!!!"Holy Crap! Look what I can do with this thing!"

Phase Two - First bump"Hmmmm...? Why won't it do what I want? That's not how I do it in (insert other cad software here)!"

Phase Three - Creamy Middlemmm... things are going more smoothly, now......mmmmm"

Phase Four - WTF stageThe family editor "eats you up and spits you out"!

Phase Five - The EnlightenmentThings really begin to click! You understand why things are happening in your model, and better yet how to control them and avoid problems. You have conquered the family editor.

Phase Six - Zen of RevitYou have mastered nearly all things Revit. You "know" what Revit "likes", and what it "dislikes" during model construction, a sixth sense, really. You spend your time exploring and tweaking advanced scheduling, OBDC, external parameters, AR3. You have a template to beat all templates, families for every situation.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Master Builder Meet Master Craftsman

So I'm sure most of you have had the chance to read Michael Tardif's article, and if you haven't you should, I believe the discussion needs to be started.

Of course, I had a couple of thoughts on it. The first is that we are dealing with stronger and apparently incorrect symantics when the demeaning term "master builder" is used. The article goes on to say that the title "captain or quarterback" might be better suited terminology, I think although it wasn't clear what he suggested be a better nomenclature for the new and emerging digital age of architects.

When it comes down to it we are talking about titles in names, but names are still very important. The reason why I still believe the terminology "Master Builder" to be the more effective of the two, (although I have still to hear a better terminology), is really simple. When you get down to the root of what we do and how we work everyday it's who we are.

The name architect was derived from the Greek arkhitekton (arkhi, chief + tekton, builder"). And if you really dig into the history and prolific artists of our profession, very few architects were just architects. Many were sculptors, painters, and musicians, many wrote poetry, studied photogrpahy and film. In essence, our profession has always been an artistic expression of form and use in the landscape. If you don't believe this and can plug your computer into a USB port in your head to avoid any apparent artistic impression then I am apparently incorrect, (however it could stilll be viewed as artisctic.) I digress, what I do know is that I have colleagues right now working for LucasFilms and Pixar creating 3d worlds that are increasingly becoming just as real as the worlds we percieve and walk around in and for certain are more real and intelligent than any BIM model to date. Realize that I'm talking about the digital landscape, the one we draw/model in every day to better communicate to our team mates how to build our creative visions and interpretations of space and form. Not too much of a stretch when you think about it, and I would strongly caution against not realizing the basic core of an architects need to build and create. To me captain is way too vague and frankly reminds me of a ship or Hunt for Red October scenario and I won't even start with quarterback.... as my Knasas City Chiefs haven't done too well this year.

Ultimately, what we are getting down to is a return to Master Architects. This is my suggestion. Just as Master Craftsmen, from a variety of trades perform the work and bring to fruition the vision of the artist/architect, so should the architect be realized. There is a reaon that in unions you go through the ranks as apprentice, journeyman, and foreman/master mason master carpenter etc.... It is because with experience and training you achieve a level of undertanding and a more proficient use of your time and leadership abilities. I believe that in our profession we do two things wrong here:

1.) We for some reason put an age limit on how quickly one advances in experience with years.
2.) We have so many titles at different firms that no one really knows what the other does.

The first is sort of a fundamental misgiving in our industry that with grey/no hair and experience you become more achieved as an architect. Although I undertand the basic concept and notion, what most people fail to realize is that the generation x and yers (generally speaking) are quick studies. For the most part, we don't need to draw a wall section 13 times to understand it. And as a result, we are starting to see more and more successful younger firms who have abandoned the 5-7. 7-10 and 10+ experience pattern have gone out on their own and fused technology and innovation with their practices to achieve results that might not have been possible in other firms. Ex. (David Adajaye, FACE NY and ElDorado KC)

He suggested Brunelleschi was a good example of a "bad" master builder. And of course this fella, if you've done your homework, wasn't exactly a "team player", but what I would like to see in our profession is a new and increased pride in what we do and produce. To be realized again by fellow professionals and contruction leaders as knowledgeable resources that increase productivity and make the building process go more smoothly and *gasp* even fun is my vision for the profession and believe me it has very little to do with my egocentric desire to take over ther world and have everyone worship me as our ego-less colleagues suggest.

And for heaven's sake Captains?! How about we all give each other tele-com names like Network Operations Technical Specialists and give each other mindless tasks like putting cover sheets on the TPS reports!

PS> Good architects are the ones who guide and direct the process encouraging collaboration among the team members. Great architects know that there is no other way but through teamwork and increased capabilities through collaboration and communication brought about by technology to make a project successful.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Revit Blog Info

I received a bunch of questions about how to create a multiple trade coordinated model if the design team isn't using BIM and then how to use the model for phasing and estimating. We've officially been through this process now about 7 times and what I have found works best is that if at ALL possible, talk your ownership or IT director to get a combination of a fiber optic data line we are getting one of these after the first of the year and let me tell you we have seen these things in action and they are sweet! Forget kilobytes/per second or megs/per second these new lines can actually transfer TERABYTES of data/per second! This starts to quickly put an end to the connect ability issues of being able to network everyone's computers together. This technology costs quite a bit as you can imagine every month and is really up to the amount of field personnel you have networked and the amount of data and connectivity that you need to transfer on a daily basis. Right now I believe Verizon in particular is moving into this market in relation to land lines.

The second option is zip and data transfer software called RiverBed. Essentially it makes a typical T1 line run about 5 times as fast when transferring data. The software automatically zips and then unzips the data to increase transfer speeds.

Regardless, what works best is the ability to have all Revit users be able to save to a central file at the end of each working day. By hosting the model on a server either at the architects or contractors office the need for additional models and copies is eliminated. Additional revision information can be tracked and logged in the model

and I'm going to have to continue this later because I have to go watch a movie now with the newly engaged Ms. Revit for Real....

BIM until it hurts...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Alright alright...sheesh

OK OK....due to an overwhelming request of emails to apparently know my name and email. (didn't know i was that popular!...i'm flattered!)

You can contact me either by commenting or by emailing me at:

I also am a gemini, like long walks on the beach and my social security number is....haha.

Interesting Thought for the Day

So I was sitting on the couch last night when i was completely wrapped up in a great discussion on information with my new fiancee. As we talked, I began to realize the fundamental shift that is taking hold of the global marketplace. Historically speaking, society began as an agrarian society, where foodstuffs, grain, livestock etc... were what was considered valuable and to a large extent the land/real estate owners who produced these goods were the ones who realized the profits after the harvest.

Of course we made a couple other shifts, (please excuse my abridged version of macro economics) but to me the next significant change was the shift to an industrialized society. In this society, the owner of the factory reaped the rewards of profit. Raw materials and products were transformed through an industrial process into usable components or machines that made life easier (in theory).

So with the development of tools and technology, that not only changed the face of the agrarian markets (combines, balers, etc..) but also began to automate the industrial processes we began to see another shift which moved us into technology and the digital age. By utilizing the technology and letting the tools do the work for us we began to see less and less of a need for dedicated workers in each of these market segments.

Enter education.

Now with the ability to learn and further all fronts in technology, science and innovation the last couple of hundred years have been nothing less than astounding. And everyone drones on about the exponential path that technology has been on. However, what's really interesting to think about is the new process of gathering, processing and guessed it...information. Almost in an agrarian sense, companies are making billions of dollars off of harvesting data and presenting it to a user in a processed format. Don't believe me. Try this website.

Google makes billions off of sifting through enormous amounts of data and presenting it to a user in a processed format that makes it usable. Now how does all of this tie to BIM you might ask?

Buildings contain enormous amounts of complex documentation, think about even with a good completed set of documents, how much information is still missing. I think we have really only begun to scratch the surface of where BIM will take us. When you begin to think about the enormous opportunity software developers have in this new and uncornered market to make information easier to input, extract, gather, and visually represent I think we will start to see our industry change significantly in the next 10 years if not sooner.

I was joking that we might even have google for buildings in the future where I can enter a keyword into a search engine and scan the BIM for relative components such as poly-iso insulation and see where it's located in the building.

Just a thought.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Integrated Project Delivery

Yep it's here.

Finally we are starting to see a significant change in the way we all work together.

Integrated Project Delivery or IPD (as our industry likes to create acronyms) has become a new method of project delivery that really starts to grasp the full potential of Bim and true integrated practice. A couple of books out there such as "Integrated Practice in Architecture" by George Elvin and "Construction Partnering and Integrated Teamworking" by Gill Thomas and Mike Thomas really start to dig into the more in depth part of the discussion, but I'd like to give you all a brief rundown of what it really means.

I wanted everyone to know what Lean Construction and Integrated Project Delivery means. As we start to use BIM technology more and as the industry starts to change we will see more and more knowledgeable owners asking for better project delivery methods.

Know that we are currently driving to be able to provide this type of delivery method. Recently we have even been requested to use this method yet, keep in mind that it will be a learning curve for everyone in the process.

First of all, Lean Construction was initially a concept developed by Toyota when they noticed that the amount of material, time and resources that they lost in the design to construction phase of their automobiles was almost 50% of their project cost. In essence, Toyota then developed a collaborative team approach right from the initial design meeting. This involved ALL players. From the engineers who were designing the engine, wiring, and computer systems to the interior designers who were designing the buttons, knobs, dashes etc… And what they saw was a huge increase in profitability (about 34%). I have heard that the typical project cost for a single car is somewhere in the neighborhood of 13 million dollars give or take. Needless to say when profitability increased by 4.5 million a car, they integrated it as a company standard.

In addition to management savings there were two more areas that increased the bottom line. The first was they began to notice as the teams worked together more and more that the amount of staff actually needed was significantly less (almost half) because the teams started to refine the process of knowing what questions to ask their teammates. This freed up other personnel to assist in other efforts or projects and again drove up the profitability of the project. The second area of savings was the amount of material. Toyotas own internal green effort was established to try and eliminate product waste. So while the teams were designing, the manufacturers (in the meetings) of the materials were able to produce their product based on the design to save waste. The example I heard was that instead of using a 4x6 standard piece of vinyl door covering that they switched to a 3x4 piece that worked just as well and again reduced cost and almost eliminated waste.

This concept then carried over to the construction industry. And the best definition I could find was as follows:
Lean construction is a “way to design production systems to minimize waste of materials, time, and effort in order to generate the maximum possible amount of value (Koskela et al. 2002) ”. Designing a production system to achieve the stated ends is only possible through the collaboration of all project participants (Owner, A/E, Constructors, Facility Managers, End-user) at early stages of the project. This goes beyond the contractual arrangement of design/build or constructability reviews where constructors, and sometime facility managers, merely react to designs instead of informing and influencing the design.

This is the opposite of 'business as usual' in the construction sector, where people do things on project after project in the same old inefficient ways, forcing each other to give up profits and overhead recovery in order to deliver at what seems the market price. What results is a fight over who keeps any of the meager margins that result from each project, or attempts to recoup 'negative margins' through 'claims', The last thing that receives time or energy in this desperate, project-by-project gladiatorial battle for survival is consideration of how to reduce underlying costs or improve quality'.

In essence Integrated Project Delivery and Lean Construction are synonymous terms. Both involve bringing all players to the table at the beginning of the project and both involve using the other teammate as a resource to create a “PROJECT FOCUSED” team as opposed to a Profession Focused one. In Australia, they call this “Project Alliancing”. Recently, I was lucky enough to work on a couple of projects that involved the entire team in this type of method and to be honest it was the most fun I’ve ever had. Both in learning what information contractors need and how the architect wants the design to look (not to mention shrinking the paper trail and endless phone calls).

The best example I can give of this collaboration was in a large scale projecte that dealt with local and international architects and us as the contractor, when we sat in a meeting recently where the American architect mentioned we would be drawing bathroom partition details. Our PM/contractor laughed and asked “Why?” The architect responded by saying, “So you guys know how to install them.” Our PM/contractor had obviously been through this before and his response was a series of questions that smacked the architects in the forehead, “Have you been trained in how to install those? Are you holding the warranty on the partitions? And lastly are you willing to take the phone call and go fix the product due to incorrect installation?” Our International architecture team kind of chuckled and the PM then said, “Please just dimension their locations and mounting heights and let me worry about installing them.” This sort of collaboration saves everybody on the team time and money and ultimately allows us as a contractor to have input in the actual construction, staging and phasing of the project from the beginning instead of trying to figure out how to do it later.

Iit is pretty important that you all know what we can start to expect from owners more and more. Also keep in mind that BIM is really the platform that allows this sort of collaboration and delivery method most effectively. Feel free to ask me if you have any questions, but keep in mind this is not “Design-Build on Steroids” but rather a totally new project delivery method.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Model To BIG??

Here's a helpful tip for those of you doing those hundred plus million dollar, multi-phased projects. When you notice that you're model is starting to drag (views and pan movement are chunky) close out of the project and try this:



Now select the model you want to open, and in the bottom right hand of the open screen you;ll notice a pull-down menu that asks



last viewed


slect the specify option and you can then tell revit which specific worksets you are working in and thus shrinking the amount of file size and load time it takes for you to open and work in the model.

Internal Teaching Tool

Teaching tool...not finger pointing right? the new release of architecture revit 2008 has a nice little tool added called show history which allows you to see who has edited the model along the design and construction process. Refer to the image below, but it's

File -->

Show history -->

then select you're Revit model in question. This will help especially if someone had a computer crash and you're trying to find out who still owns elements that need to be relinquished or saved...