Friday, October 31, 2008

Brads Take on Parallel Modeling

Recently I was asked why I try so hard to keep a singular model in Revit using the architects', MEP and structural information when I could just as easily create my own.

Great question.

My answer was, "Because there is only one google."

Needless to say this slightly confused the person asking the question who couldn't seem to draw the parallel I was trying to make.

I further elaborated on this concept and point.

BIM is not CAD.

BIM will not and should not be forced to function in the same way we have been using CAD for the past couple of decades. The old CAD way had us managing hundreds or thousands of CAD drawings that were somewhat organized in a format we pray can be managed later in the project when due to schedule constraints the project manager throws thirteen new and strange people to draft on the project. Where more often than not they are inputting loads of information that is incorrect, contradicts other drawings or the specs and then wonder why document quality stinks.

CAD is a series of information silos. No I don't care about xreferenced drawings.

BIM is not an information silo.

So to get back to my point. There is only one google.

Google is a great example of one source of user entry, input and extraction that streamlines and manages the information for the user in a useful way. Currently valued at over 158 billion dollars, even in a time of recession, (people need information now more than ever..) there is something to be said for the value this tool creates. That said there is no separate site for any of the following:

- Google for Engineers
- Google for Architects
- Google for Construction Managers
- Google for Subcontractors
- Google for Field Personnel
- Google for Estimators
- Google for Owners
- Google for Code Compliance
- Google for Sustainability
- Google for Facility Managers

No specific Google for BIM Managers, Virtual Construction Managers....either

The real value and appeal of Google is a single source of information.

A fundamental screw up in the way our industry is heading is not working together to begin building an actual honest to god usable tool. It's easy for us general contractors to get in a rush, think we're more important than the rest of the team and fail to understand the value of educating the team above to create BIM's correctly as opposed to wasting a lot of time and resources of the course of the next 111 projects with the same team or same members.

Conversely, GC's need to gain an understanding of what is important to the team members to see from us (GC's). Turns out no one on the team knows it all and the better we can facilitate answers for the team the better results.

....just like Google.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Beginning of the Consortium and the Cassagnes Rating


So Brian (a gifted and talented gadget guru/BIM expert) and I got to thinking it would be a good idea to take a break from talking about BIM for a moment and delve into how we got where we were and whose shoulders we are now perched upon.

Thus, we are going to begin a satire filled series on Fridays called Technology vs. Man.
This analysis will take an in depth look at how,(in the history of mankind) technology has helped, hindered, hurt, humiliated or in the rare case delivered a moment of hopeful euphoria. As such we have create the CONSORTIUM for REALLY AMAZING PERIPHERAL DEVICES. We hope you understand this consortium is open to the public for commenting and further non-gratis studies.
In this session we will look at the very beginnings of technology...the Etch a Sketch:

Simplicity+Function=Beautiful Device

Say what you will about technology, without the introduction of the Etch a Sketch into the area of "kick-ass" technology, we at the Consortium doubt very seriously we would be where we are today.

Invented in 1950 by André Cassagnes the Etch a Sketch was originally called the Telecran ("tele-screen"). As a dedication to Cassagnes and his life changing invention we will rate all further technologies on a Cassagnes scale. This scale will be rendered out of 512 and will indicate the level of "kick-ass"edness, thus inherent in the device.

Image of "Kick Ass" Cassagnes..

Moving on, Cassagnes' device receives a 511 out of 512. The -1 one rating is because the name "Telecran" should have been used and thus fully and completely "kicking ass". That said 511 is still way beyond any rating thus far...clearly and thus elates us everyday we get to use this wonderful device.


The Etch a Sketch works by having the inside surface of the glass screen coated with aluminum powder which is then scraped off by a movable stylus, leaving a dark line on the light gray screen.
The stylus is controlled by the two large knobs, or "Knobbies" one of which moves it vertically and the other horizontally.

To erase the picture, the artist turns the device upside down and shakes it. Doing this causes the styrene beads to smooth out and re-coat the inside surface of the screen with aluminum powder. The "black" line merely exposes the darkness inside the device.
While many might question the rating we at the "Consortium for Really Appealing Peripheral Devices" or simply CRAPD; we stand firm behind Andre's glorious device. One because we used it as kids and secondly we couldn't think of any other device that perfectly balances form, function and simplicity quite like the EAS.


Filling in large "black" areas will allow enough light through to expose parts of the interior. This is of course top secret information and available to only the true students of the EAS (Etch-a-Sketch).

Many people fail to realize that the Etch-a-Sketch was father to another device, the Animator.

Visionary Machinery for the Space Age...or Animating Peeling a Banana.

Released in 1986, the Animator reaches a level of "kick assedness" rarely seen from the Consortium. Walking a fine line of yin and yang, form and technology, and unadulterated pleasure the animator defines the form and function of the modern day laptop/mobile device.

While single handedly wowing the industry the Animator burst onto the scene only to be quickly taken off as scientists scratched their collective heads in awe and disbelief and scrambled to develop laptop technology....A coincedence?

Scientists diligently finding the innerworkings of the Animator
We think not.Literally...

The EAS and Animator essentially defined to laptop designers everywhere what their product is supposed to do and how it is to function.


That's how long before the modern day the animator existed for this reason we compare the following:


Sure the modern animator has some more bells and whistles than the Original Animators functions as follows-

- ON/Move

- Animate

- Save

- Draw

- Next

- Reverse

- Recall

- Erase

But these functions pretty well sum up the functions of our modern day laptops and tablet PC's anwyays! So here here!! To the Animator and its Cassagnes rating of 511.544!

Congratulations! You sir are an innovator, a pilgrim and a true champion of modern technology!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Custom Revit Schedules / Parameters

So I was asked to submit a sample page from the book and unfortunately at this time I can't do that (soon very soon), HOWEVER I can submit a tutorial for everyone regarding customizing Revit schedules that very well might be in the Book!

Keep in mind this is just one of the many tutorials (that might be in the book) and maybe I'll post another couple of tutorials from the book before it's release so everyone runs out and buys it! =)

I really appreciate the positive feedback from everyone looking forward to using the book and moreover I'm really excited to put something out there that doesn't just theorize any more about BIM in regards to the field of construction, but really starts to dig into the processes that are necessary to make BIM work.

So here is how to create a custom Revit Material Schedule to generate recycled material percentages from a concrete floor to be used for LEED reporting later. This involves creating a new schedule field so make sure you take the time to create it correctly, keep it stored on your Imperial Library and it will be available for every project after that!


Custom Schedule Tutorial

For this tutorial we will create a custom floor schedule in which we will input a custom field to indicate the amount of recycled content percentages of our building and derive a total volume of recycled content of our floors. To begin let’s open Revit. (helpful if you already have a revit file with floors in it- the book provides these models)

Click on View ->
-> New Schedule/Quantities...
-> From the category window select “Floors”
-> From the Fields tab add Family and Type, Area, Level, Volume, Perimeter, Comments
-> Click OK to create the schedule
Now that our schedule is created we will need to add a new Parameter and add a Calculated Value to that Parameter so that we can show the recycled content in the concrete floors.
-> Right click on your Schedule and select View PropertiesUnder the Other field select the Fields category again
-> Now select Add Parameter…
-> Under the Parameter Properties change the Parameter Type from Project parameter to Shared Parameter, this will allow us to export this schedule and can be used for other materials other than floors. This should make the Parameter Data fields inactive.
-> Click on the “Group parameter under:” pull down menu and select “Materials and Finishes”Now click Select…In this window click Edit…Click on Create… at the top right of the window Under File Name enter “Recycled Material Parameter”
-> Click Save
-> Now under the groups category select New…And Type in “Recycled Content”
-> Click OK On the Parameter group pull down select Recycled Content
-> Click on New… under Parameters
Under the Parameter Properties fill in the Name:Recycled Content. Under discipline enter Common and under Type of Parameter: enter number.
-> Click OK until you are at the Schedule Properties window.Now under the Scheduled fields you can see that there is a Recycled Content category we just created. While this seemed like a significant undertaking the fact is that since we made the Recycled content a shared parameter we will only have to do that once as it is now an option for future projects saved on Revit’s Imperial Library. Now to calculate the total amount of recycled content of the floors we will need to add a Calculated Value…
->Click on Calculated Value from the Schedule Properties window and enter “Total Recycled Volume” under the name.
-> Select the Formula setting-> Leave the default settings for Discipline
-> Under the Type pull down enter Volume
-> Under Formula: Input “Volume*Recycled Content”Before we completely exit the Schedule Properties window
-> Click OK until you are out of the element properties window click on Formatting and select the field Recycled Content. Now click on Field Format…Uncheck default settings and under Units select Percentage. Under rounding select 0 decimal places and under Unit Symbol select the “%” sign.

Finally click OK until we are back at the Floor Schedule.

Start inputting the percentages of recycled content and away you go! You'll now notice too that the calculated percentage is generating the total amount of recycled content for the floors.

Also since this is now a grouped parameter in your library it can be used for doors, walls, ceilings and so on.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

BIM and Sustainability

So it's late and I had to take a break from writing about BIM and sustainability in my write about BIM and sustainability on my blog?? eh? Regardless, I just finished dancing around the room to Mos Def putting my 3 month old daughter to sleep so I figured I'd spit out a few words about some interesting work a colleague and myself are doing in regards to sustainability as it relates to construction.

So Hiromitsu (a sushi loving buddy of mine) and I talked as he is currently working outside of Tokyo on a large scale mixed use development and was talking about some of the nuainces that seem to be fundamentally different between projects in Japan and here. That said to begin we don't bless a site with Buddhist monks to evoke teamwork and prosperity, but based on the current economic crisis, perhaps we should! But moreover he was talking about how they are using BIM to protect a wetland area they are working around. While some of this seemed over the top, I'm sure the native egrets greatly appreciate it:

- Motion activated cameras notify the site superintendent on his hand held tablet PC when the said area is breached.

- When it rains on site the superintendent can use the web enabled site security cameras to verify that his site is draining correctly and that the water runoff is not flooding the protected area from his i-phone. (maybe apple will take over the world..hmmm..)

- Every piece of installed lumber, steel, concrete, panelling, flooring, etc...has imbedded recycled content schedules that table for green building reporting later in the BIM.

- They are monitoring on site energy use by having all off hours site security lighting on motion sensors and unplug all construction equipment at the end of the day.

So that said I was pretty impressed. Of course, I had to let him know about my latest little contribution to the world of sustainability and the image below says quite a bit:

That's right... an eco-friendly jobsite trailer. Now what you might ask, does a green job trailer have anything to do with BIM? Well the simple fact is that I designed this puppy in Revit and calculated the southern orientation for daylighting and views, those solar panels on the top were modeled for correct angle here in the midwest (also to make sure we could clear overpasses), the composting toilet (no it doesn't stink) was modeled to show were outside vents would be and were shown on the plans and the interior is clad in completely reclaimed wood panelling, that had some great pattern to it, which of course was modeled.

At the end of the day this trailer is net POSITIVE ENERGY! So it can essentially be rolled out into a field virtually anywhere the sun shines an average 40% of the time during an 8 hour period and it will operate completely sustainably. If the sun doesn't shine, which hasn't happened yet, the wind generator mounted to the side kicks on and hums through the evening and night hours completely recharging the system batteries. Funny story is when they were setting it up for the local tour we had 6 laborers all plugged in to the trailer to set things up and all had power tools, drills and saws working away and we never dropped below 20% usage. It was funny when I asked a worker if it felt good to be completely off grid and he smiled and said he wanted to install the system on his house!

Facts you can use for your next cocktail party:

- Jobsite trailers on average run 24/7 during a job and use in a month enough energy to power 8 average sized homes

- On average jobsite trailers have about 1/4-1/2" of insulation.

- Jobsite trailers account for about 700-1200 dollar energy bills every month on a construction project.

- Through increased windows and motion sensors the typical job trailer could save about 40% in energy costs.

That's what I got tonight...back to work. Have a great week!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sample pages are the mean time, NavisWorks rendering

So recently, we have begun upping our game in the BIM department to renderings, animations and you guessed it rendered animations in an effort to bolster our image in marketing and business development. If you haven't yet, I would encourage everyone to take a gander at the rendering tools now in both Revit and NavisWorks if you haven't yet.

There are a couple of sites out there that allow users to sign up for free and download preconfigured lighting assemblies for renderings such as while some of the exterior ones worked great, some of these just ran my machine into the dirt, so be sure to save prior to copying in an .lfa. Also for some reason more libraries are available to you once you create a free account.

That said create an account log in and use someone else's hardwork for once!