Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Don't Blame Revit

Revit is just a tool. It'll let you do silly things.

Questions of the Day:
  • Does great design require intelligent intervention?
  • Is great design an accident?
  • What are the odds of creating statistical randomness through mere chance?
  • To honestly bake from scratch must you start by creating the universe?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Comes Early

AOL acquires About.Me four days after official launch. Undisclosed sum.
More links and info here.
Congrats About.me team!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Happy Holidays

It's a great visual storyboard.

2 Shot'a Punk Rock 1 Shot'a Shine

If you were in Jr. High school in the 70's, there was all this music called disco. It was white-collar, over-produced, over-hyped and over-here (thanks Australia). But in the midst of all this incredibly popular music the needle took a violent swing in the opposite direction.

Bands like the Ramones, Bad Brains, Sex Pistols, Dead Kennedys, The Clash took the style over substance and injected incredible amounts of energetic angst. Overnight, disco was dead and raucous rock and roll was back in. Yeah - disco hung around for another 5 years, but it was the kind of music your recently divorced mother's new boyfriend liked. Wanker.

And while few of these punk and hard-core/rock bands became commercially successful, they worked incredible hard and as a result influenced music for decades. Once again, rock and roll wasn't something used to sell cars. It was something that was supposed to piss off your neighbors, your teachers and your mother's new boyfriend.

So here we are again. 2010. IMO rock music has been incredibly bland for the last 10 years or so. U2 sounds nearly as whiny as REM.

Here's what's popular right now. As a (for the most part) self-taught musician that started playing piano at six, then picked up brass and strings over the next 15 years it unnerves me that kids would rather pretend to play popular music (ala "Rock Band") than actually learn to tune a guitar. It's an irony hasn't gone unnoticed. Just watch the first 2 minutes.

Where's the present day musicianship?? Who's playing the instruments on these pop records? You wouldn't know, because it's all the cult of personality about the lead singer. Just like disco. Here we are again. Mark my words:

When the children of movie stars release instantly successful rap and hip-hop records free of hard-earned and poorly payed dues, it's time to look somewhere else.

So between Disney Radio and pre-pubescent, auto-tuned boy/girl bands and first-name-only solo acts that are far too warm, well-fed - I recon the needle is about to swing. Really, really hard.

There's hope over the horizon. Hard working, blue-collar, cold-weather and dry knuckes kind of hope. Jack White is leading the rock and blues charge with his ex-wife. Old Crow Medicine Show is the standard bearer for the Bluegrass revival and selling out venues in Europe. Hank Williams III is giving his granddaddy something to get drunk to and sing along for a change.

And from the end of a dirt road in Hickory, North Carolina comes 3 guys and a lead singer that wields pipe wrenches and cans of PBR like Odin's hammer. And I recon these guys are going to help swing the needle.

This is from 2007.

And this is from 2010.

These guys have been ripping up the east coast for the last 5 years and now they're starting to head inland. Leading the way is another collection of original and live tracks that goes to press today. In the next few weeks it'll all be available from distro and iTunes. The cover looks something like this:

And the back looks something like this:

They're called "crazy eyes" people. So don't stand too close to the stage. Not unless you want to get knocked over by a flying bottle or sprayed with beer. You think I'm kidding? NSFW.

See you at SXSW. Maybe even AU 2011. And hopefully a lot sooner. If there's a venue in your town (or country) where you think these guys should play - let me know. And when you decide to see them when they pass through your town, I recon you shouldn't wear your good shoes.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

What What What???!!!

Xmas Lights? ZZZzzz.... Synchronized music? Yawnnn....

Whatwhatwhat?! Rollercoasters?

Okay...now that I've got your attention - enjoy! :)

About Me

A new web site about.me is poking its head out of the ground. The UI is very elegant and I can imagine this taking off pretty quickly. I've already registered for myself (and each of my kids). Many of the posted profiles are a little too "Glamor Shots + Internet" from the look of things but don't let this distract you. I think there's a lot of potential.

Where's the value? You're able to track your recent and historical profile views and statistics as well as understand your "reach" based on Twitter, Linkedin, etc. There are also some tools to help you promote and extend that reach as well. As an option, you can allow people to contact you via email. But while their return address will be shown to you, your email address is hidden from them. Very nice feature.
  • Not Facebook.
  • Not Twitter.
  • Not Linkedin.
  • Not Blogger.
Overall, a really great website to gather all of your pointers and links in one place. Like having your own personal splash page.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Blame Canada

Nothing like having a fresh supply of factory unlocked iPhones just across the boarder and a friend that likes to travel to far away places for the weekend.
The only scary part was turning a regular SIM into a Micro SIM with a pair of scissors and a nail file. Line up the contacts very carefully kids! Measure twice and cut once - and don't forget to file off the little burrs of plastic. :)

In other news, I'm quite sorry that I forgot to wish you all Happy Special Day (December 13th). Tiki Bar TV was an absolutely wonderful podcast. Gone but not forgotten. Wonderful, joyful and full of drink-driven non sequiturs. Watching what three incredibly talented people could do with new media convinced me that commercially approved media was in for a long, creative decline. If you haven't seen the podcast it's available here via iTunes. You're in for a wonderful surprise!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Environment v. Energy

As a post AU blog post, I wanted to take a moment to tell you about all the cool classes I got a chance to attend, who I got to speak to, and suggest some stuff for you to download if you didn't make it to some of the classes. There was some great stuff out there to listen to and see, and the interesting thing about this year (for me) was the number of Aussies I got to meet. They were seemingly everywhere. All good fun.

But instead of all that, I have to share this. The first law suit at the supreme court over carbon emissions. Several states on the East coast are suing several major energy companies for their carbon emissions citing that they should be considered a public nuisance and should have their carbon outputs capped. What makes this a real potential game changer is the fact that the supreme court is willing to hear the case and weigh in on a verdict. Should be an interesting outcome.

The question then becomes what does this mean for the individual? Does Dick Cheney get called out as a public nuisance for his $186,000 annual electric bill? Or Al Gore for his $30,000 in yearly utility costs?

HOK Open House and Book Signing

If you’re in New York City, please consider attending HOK’s first open house event at our new office location. I’ll be giving a brief presentation about Mastering Revit Architecture 2011 and the IPD process for designing and building our new space.

  • 1065 Avenue of the Americas, 6th Floor
  • Thursday, December 16th from 6:00-8:00 pm

Click here to RSVP before December 10. (Note that you MUST RSVP to gain access to the building.)


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bachelorhood is Overrated

As of midnight tonight, I'm officially off the market. Details to follow. Ill be at the Mix Lounge with Eddy and James around 10pm if you'd like to drop by, raise a glass and toast the future!
Once again, it's wonderful to be part of a team that's doing something so incredibly unique and amazing and I'm deeply honored.
Suffice to say this has extraordinary implications for the AEC space - and more.
To "Infinity"...and beyond. ;)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Getting Ready for AU 2010

If you’re heading out to Las Vegas for Autodesk University next week, I’ve compiled some links to some great preparatory information.

Melanie Perry (aka Mistress of the Dorkness) has a funny, but totally true AU survival guide on her blog. Lynn Allen produced two '”primer” videos on YouTube (Part 1 and Part 2 available below).

Being environmentally friendly, Autodesk does not provide printed handouts for classes – except for hands-on labs – so, here’s how I’ll be going paperless this year…

First, the devices: iPhone 3G and iPad – should cover most of my connectivity, tweeted photos and note taking capabilities. Not sure if my laptop will follow me around full-time.

Second, the apps. My favorite all-around app is Evernote. With a limited free account, I can create notes on either the iPhone, iPad, PC or web browser and they are all synchronized. Seriously thinking about upgrading to a Pro account… This is essential for capturing all my notes from the plethora of great class offerings. It offers text/audio/photo notes, tagging, search and a variety of other features. If you’ve read Total Recall by Gordon Bell, you know that Evernote is frequently referenced as one of the main offsprings of the LifeLogging movement. If you haven’t read it…find it on iBooks now!

Don’t expect to receive a printed event guide this year either. Autodesk is offering a mobile app from EventKaddy. The app will be available for iPhone, Android and Blackberry and should be ready as of Friday November 26.

I have downloaded my class handouts into my Dropbox account which also has apps for iPhone and iPad. This gets the files onto my mobile devices, but I highly recommend GoodReader for the iPad. It fluidly reads a variety of document formats and has nice markup tools. It also can display documents externally with the VGA adapter. Open a file in the Dropbox app and click the link in the upper-right to open in another eligible app. Finally, I’ll be keeping track of the tweets via Tweetdeck on either the phone or pad. (www.twitter.com/jvandezande) Also be sure to follow @AutodeskU and the hashtag #AU2010.

I hope to see you there. It’s always been fun meeting readers of my blog, so don’t be shy…come say ‘Hi!’

Getting to AU and registration
Special events and navigating the conference

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Speaking of AU...

This is a railing. Native Revit. No - I won't tell you how to make this unless you come to the session at AO 2010:

AB427-3: Into the Void: The Zen of Creating Complex Sculptural Form with Autodesk® Revit®".

If you can't make it in person (cough...Guy...ack...Robinson...sputter) it'll be recorded as a Virtual Session.

It's a 2 hour class. The only one I'll be teaching. It'll take less than 10 minutes to show you how to create the above railing. I suppose you could leave immediately afterward. But there's other cool stuff that you'd miss.

Embrace the Void. :)

The rest of the time I've been contracted by our publisher Sybex to keep Eddy and James sober.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mastering Revit Team at AU 2010

If you are planning to attend Autodesk University this year, make sure you stop by the AU Theater on Thursday, December 2 at noon. Eddy, Phil and James will be giving a brief presentation about the book and will answer any questions from the audience. The theater is located near the pavilion in the Expo Hall.

We'd love to see you there! And maybe if we get enough people to attend, they might even let us use the air gun to launch T-shirts into the crowd!! ;-)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Reprieve #27

Ok, really. We all know that Revit has some oddities to it's dialog boxes and error messages. Relinquish All Mine, as an example, is one that has always struck me as a bit odd. I think though, overall, it's kinda like the iPad. As dorky as it sounded when apple first announced it, the more you say it, the more you get used to it.
This one for me though, takes the cake. Revit has gone beyond just trying to communicate a message without the use of nouns and verbs and straight into conceptual architectural design.

Monday, November 8, 2010

One of These Things is Not Like the Other...

It's easy to understand why early cars looked like carriages without horses. First of all, an appropriate metaphor for designing an "automobile" was years away from being established. Societal expectations about what personal transportation could be really didn't need to exceed the present paradigm. The potential of a carriage without a horse was more than enough to initially attract what would quickly become a sizable market.

(Special Note: And before anyone wants debate how cars are horrible for the environment, think about the alternative. Consider that in London, early automobiles were celebrated as an ecologic answer to the horrible problem of having to daily remove tons of animal manure from city streets. Yes - I get that public transportation has potential. But you can't call a train to take you to the hospital. Not even in Japan).

Anyway, back to the original point. The real reasons that early cars looked as they did is because 1) There was no other existing infrastructure for methods of distribution or manufacturing. Roads were often little more than single-lane, tree-lined paths incapable of more than light traffic. And 2) if you wanted to build anything mechanical to transport a few people at a time you contracted with a buggy and carriage maker. Few others had the necessary expertise to engineer the wheels, suspension and infrastructure required to evolve into early automobiles.

So now, 100 years or so later - it's come to this.

And as much as it pains Guy Robinson, who constantly suggests I drive some European thing of beauty from VW, Volvo, Saab, Audi, BMW, Mercedes or Fiat (or maybe not Fiat - maybe the Fiat is Robin Capper's nagging ;) this is the family car. And I sincerely appreciate their suggestions. But to date neither have offered to augment any of the required funds for such an upgrade. ;)

Yet in any event, if a Honda minivan represents the most mundane demographic of automobile design evolution of the past 100 years, consider the following:
  • An six-cylinder engine that shuts down by half after the stress of acceleration
  • Fully climate controlled
  • Cruise control
  • Anti-lock breaking
  • Front, side and rear airbags
  • Satellite navigation and entertainment
  • Audio and video feed to flat screen monitor and wireless headphones
  • Room for eight passengers and luggage
  • Distances in excess of 600 miles per day for less than $100
So what's next? Many would point to all the buzz surrounding electric/hybrid/biodiesel powered systems. But seriously - what teenager is going to want the keys to a Prius? Because while a eco-hybrid-partofthesolutionratherthanpartoftheproblem may appeal to everyone's sense of Reason, there's little effort to appeal to nearly anyone's sense of Vanity.

IMO, it's it's a damn shame that out of so many automotive engineers the world has yet to offer, somehow they've forgotten one of the most primal of automotive design equations:

(Transportation * Freedom of Movement)
(Sense of Danger - Adult Supervision)] =
% Chance of Getting Laid

No hormonal driven teenager wants to drive a car that resembles a catfish that's had its head run over by a pickup.

But once again, I digress. What I'm trying to get to is the following prediction:

The next major revolution in transportation won't be driven
by developments in propulsion. It'll be lead by advancements in automated navigation.

This is why the past 100 years of engineering and manufacturing hasn't really evolved. We've simply been trying to improve on the original 100-year old concept of "horseless-ness". This is evolution. Not revolution.

Animals as the engine gave way to engines that were animals. Internal combustion is far more reliable, cost effective and timely. And now we're we're in the process of trying to find a replacement for internal combustion. But neither represent a true paradigm shift. Because these "new" methods of transportation are little different than the first transition a century ago, when the first cars resembled the latest carriages. The irony now is that the first electric/hybrids/biodiesel vehicles merely resemble the latest offerings in internal combustion.

Why is the above description an evolution rather than a revolution? Because since the beginning of time, the fact is we're still stuck steering.

But now there's this.

And this. And this and this and this.

Hello? Cars that steer themselves? Trucks that steer themselves? Are you kidding me?

I believe this will be the next paradigm shift in personal transportation. You've got to believe that the next call to Google after this news broke was from the CEO of FedEx, while the CEO of UPS was "quite happy" to hold on line two. Never mind the US Postal Service. They've still not called. And their union is probably shitting bricks right now.

  • Automated, 24/7 commercial trucking (not to mention lower shipping costs).
  • Maximized fuel consumption.
  • Not only automated - but free - public transportation. Because driver-less buses will save is as much if not more than the revenue generated by fares.
  • At risk groups (kids / teenagers / elderly) that can 'drive' themselves (school, friends, shopping, etc).
  • Much, much faster (and far safer) personal transportation. Remove the element of fatigue, and speeds in excess of 200kph are possible over long distances with systems that take real-time weather, temperature, traffic and other external conditions into account - in a fraction of reaction times compared to human-based systems.
  • Personal transportation far better equipped for long-distance and overnight trips. Options that enhance relaxation and even sleeping will become a feature. Hey! I guess this does tie into my previous tangent!
Initially these early systems will cost more to equip and insure. But very quickly I expect automated navigation will become standard. And eventually, the cost to insure will be a fraction compared to systems that are manually driven (at slower speeds and more accident prone). In time, I suspect you'll have to pay extra to your insurance company if you want to do the driving.

When will this become a reality? About the same time Oprah convinces mothers (and the Federal Government) to nationally outlaw cell phones and texting while driving. The day after that law passes, this technology will be become publicly available. :)

So while this...

...actually evolved into this...

...with a little help from Google, it may eventually become this:

Norman Rockwell was truly ahead of his time. If you look closely, the dad is using an iPad. ;)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Krazy Kansas: Season 1 Episode 1

You know the other day how I mentioned that in contrast my public education, which led me to conclude the Civil War started in South Carolina, it actually started in the middle of the US? Something about the border strife between KC and MO? Seriously. Maybe Eddy can explain it all at AU. It would make a great Unconference.

In the meantime, read up on William Quantrill.

The Devil Knows How to Ride is another great start (via Amazon).

What's the point? I keep coming across crazy stories about Kansas City. I should have begun collecting them years ago after meeting Eddy Krygiel (formerly of BNIM) and Dave Willard (formerly 360 Architects via CDFM2). But I just kept putting it off.

Not anymore. Not after today. This guy's story was just too good to not pass along.

Basically it's a botched murder for hire. And the hit has the presence of mind to give one of the best interviews ever, including criticizing his ex-wife's decision to pay too little to get the job done.

The part that insulted me the most is that she was going to pay the hit man so little money.

In his words, "You get what you pay for."

Eddy? Dave? - no offense intended. If you feel driven to post "Crazy Charlotte" stories I suppose all's fair in Love, War and Blogs.

So this is the beginning of an ongoing series. I'll post them as I find them. Shouldn't be too long.

And someone please tell Ron I said "Hi".

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Amid startup hunting, book writing and record producing (check these guys on iTunes and Facebook). Wear headphones as NSFW. Full Length CD "Freeborn" due out February 2011. Wait, where was I? Oh yeah -I managed to sneak away last week to help deliver a 43' sailboat from Charleston, SC to Ft. Myers, FL.

Eddy and James were gracious enough not to panic. I've got 4 more chapters due in 4 more weeks. Don't tell them I hope to finish by min-November. Then I plan to get started putting the wraps on AU 2010 during the week of the 15th. So I figured it was time for a break before this final push.

The other reason?

After being on the road for around 40+ weeks a year over the last ten years, I find myself home for nearly 8 weeks straight. So according to Justine (cue New Zealand / Hobbit accent):

"You don't know when you'll have the opportunity to do this again. And besides, you need to get the hell out of my kitchen."

Hint taken! ;)

The trip was an all-around success. I flew down to Charleston (KJZI) with my instructor and took a taxi to Charleston City Marina. There I met with two more experienced sailors (including Andy Cross - who taught the family to sail this summer on a catamaran live aboard) and another newbie named Bob from Phoenix who is in the process of liquidating enough assets to provide for a 5 year, round the world sailing adventure. The four of us sailed 24/7 and covered about 750 miles in 7 days, taking the short cut under 7-Mile Bridge off Marathon Key.

We did three hour shifts in pairs, which allowed for plenty of rest from motion sickness. The first two days were spent pounding on 2-3 meter swells. I'm not the motion sickness type, but I somehow exhumed more than I consumed. Curse you Pizza flavored Hot Pockets, with sauce that tastes like the end of a nine volt battery. Facebook posts and photos here.

More information on the Colgate Offshore Sailing School here. Highly recommended. When you call, ask if Andy is available to teach your class. If you're going to do a live aboard learn to sail, he's incredibly patient with kids and never stops smiling. Even if you knock on his cabin door with one hand while holding a very pissed off 2' sand shark in the other.

But that's another story. ;)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Revit Essentials

A show of hands - how many of you remember when Phil Read came to your offices to teach you about this thing called Revit? (Pronounced 'Ree-vit' by your project managers and 'He costs how much?' by the office partners). Remember that? In my office, back in early 2000-something, this guy showed up in a suit and tie to wax poetic about how I was going to be able to design and document our first building over 1,000,000 sq ft using this tool Autodesk had just acquired. It was a bit surreal.

Anyone ever watch that famous interview with Salvador Dali? It was kinda like that. There was this crazy guy in a suit spouting off terms like 'Relinquish All Mine' and 'Reload Latest' and 'you can totally build a ramp made out of gyp. board and attach it to the bottom of a stair and call it a ceiling.' I was completely lost but totally intrigued.

Want your own copy of that memory? Phil is now leading the made-for-home version of this experience. We're doing a new series of book called Revit Essentials which is going to mimic that 3 day, intensive class you once went through. We're about 50% complete and it's been an interesting process trying to distill 3 days worth of training into a compact book. It won't be out until next year but we're hoping to take it in a new and interesting learning direction.

ps. this new direction does not include teenaged vampires who claim to be over 100 years old and still date teenagers or werewolves with rippling abs. It might contain inappropriate language quoted from Southpark that the editors didn't manage to catch before printing though.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Event Recap: BIMForum Atlanta

Note: My conference notes were captured exclusively via Evernote on the iPad!

In my last post, I shared just a few pictures from the first pre-conference event at BIMForum Atlanta. In this article, I will summarize the experience of attending my third BIMForum event. In prior years, I had participated in this conference in Falls Church, VA and Dallas, TX – both of which were definitely worth the trip.

This time around, the AGC stuck with the modus operandi of a themed conference. Held at the W Hotel Midtown, the theme was “The Evidence of BIM” or “The Evidence on BIM” – depending on which handout I was reading…perhaps an interesting typo, but I digress. As always one of the main benefits of this type of event is the face-to-face networking - especially outside my ‘comfort zone’ of BIM management. The BIMForum touts one of the most diverse audiences that I’ve seen to date. A quick survey by BIMForum chairman, John Tocci, indicated an even mix of architects, engineers and contractors with a smaller contingency of those representing the owner & facility operating community.

Now, back to the theme…which I’ll simplify as “Evidence” for the sake of this article. The initial marketing leaned towards providing case studies of firms and organizations using or requiring BIM and the benefits they are realizing as a result. Presentations were delivered from a variety of industry sectors, some of which didn’t seem to fit within the “Evidence” theme. I now realize this is not necessarily a bad thing. Recalling the Dallas conference, the overall theme seemed to be forced into the last few slides of EVERY presentation, whether the lecture had anything to do with the theme or not. For that, I’m thankful.

Before I dive into a more detailed review of some key presentations, please note that some or all of the presentation material should be available on the BIMForum.org website soon.

BIMForum Tours

What has become a staple of these conferences, I signed up for the pre-conference BIM tour. This time we visited the campus of Georgia Tech, a really beautiful university that is close to downtown Atlanta. First we were lead on a tour of an addition to the school of architecture being constructed by Beck Group. Of interest was the fact that they assumed the role of the subcontractor for the furniture contract and used some interesting tools and techniques. They had quite a learning curve as they worked with point clouds from laser scans of existing stairwells to append new millwork rails. The workflow seemed a bit convoluted (Rhino to Inventor to EdgeCam to CNC Router), but ultimately was the best available to the team.

IMG_0210  IMG_0208


The second part of the tour brought us to the Digital Building Laboratory with Chuck Eastman. This is a large facility that was formerly dedicated to advanced wood engineering, but is transforming into research of other materials such as precast concrete and masonry. You can read more about their expertise and projects at www.dbl.gatech.edu. Of note is a new masters degree program being offered next year called Master of Science in Digital Design and Fabrication (MSDDF).

IMG_0218   IMG_0220


Conference Day 1

Back at the W Hotel, we began the conference with a variety of presentations kicked off by Debajyoti Pati of HKS speaking about evidence-based design. He stressed the importance of the role of the designer in identifying the strategic goals of their clients. Based on results from the medical field where research is used in an attempt to reduce preventable deaths at hospitals, Pati suggests that energy performance predictions will improve occupied facilities and clash detection methods will enhance the construction process.

From Georgia Tech, Chuck Eastman discussed the work he has been doing with GSA in simulating and analyzing circulation routes in early design models. He and his students have also been using Solibri to translate models for use in energy analysis software. This is an interesting departure – using a model checking program – instead of using a direct API tool for exporting or relying on IFC. Ioannis Brilakis spoke about his research with automated real-time videogrammetry (ART-V). You really have to check out more info at the Construction Information Technology Laboratoty (citl.gatech.edu) to fully understand the importance of this technology to the industry! Jochen Teizer also spoke about his work with the Real-Time Automated Project Information and Decision Systems (RAPIDS) lab which can be found at www.rapids.gatech.edu.

Bruce Hunn from ASHRAE gave a presentation about performance measurement protocols for commercial buildings which was interesting, but a bit of a dry topic. I’ll be sure to collect his slides for future reference if they are made available on the BIMForum website. Following Bruce was Josh Oakley and Frank Fralick – who were our tour guides from Beck on the school of architecture construction project.

Hilda Espinal and Chitwan Saluja from Perkins + Will discussed three of their recent BIM projects using varying degrees of collaboration with others. Nothing too new here, but I was curious to know more about their discussion of contractors making requests to them for modeling adjustments. If the designer is doing more work to help the contractors do less work…how much extra was P+W getting paid? I’m sure I know the answer to that.

Brett Young from Cahill Contractors spoke about their use of BIM – although I didn’t really see how it applied to “marginally historic buildings” as the presentation title stated. That said, Cahill’s main business is in affordable housing in California. They have been using BIM to improve their bottom line in constructing these building types. Two interesting factoids from this presentation: they point clients directly to the Penn State BIM Execution Planning site to better understand the defined BIM uses; and, in understanding the potential additional cost of asking their subcontractors to provide BIM, they stated the highest cost is related to increased meeting requirements resulting in additional labor costs.

They also mentioned one or two projects where they used a 3D model to discover egregious errors in the architect’s drawings. This is something that is a pet peeve of mine – some architects have seem to lost sight of their responsibility to provide coordinated designs. Just because you’re using a BIM tool, doesn’t mean that your designs are automatically coordinated!!

Harry McKinney and Scott Cutler from Clancy and Theys Construction spoke about “How BIM Attracts and Inspires Unexpected Uses” – an interesting look into the application of BIM to a science museum with a large sphere incorporated into the design. They spoke about presenting the model to museum stakeholders, using clash detection to find interferences with exhibits and problems with the vertical clearances (hello, architects?!!). The model was also used to detect quirky maintenance and service issues behind the spherical screen structure before they became real problems after occupancy.

To conclude Day 1, John Moebes from Crate & Barrel delivered yet another inspiring talk about “An Owner’s Changing Use of BIM.” Back at the Dallas BIMForum, John gave a somewhat vitriolic view from the owner’s perspective towards the AEC community seeking to be compensated for their use of BIM. This time around, he shared some fantastic views on efficiency and productivity. His team’s construction schedules are being reduced from 88 weeks to about 56 weeks with a goal of reducing it to around 40 weeks. They can accomplish this by a new method of delivery Moebes refers to as “design – build – bid.” This seemingly odd sequence actually make perfect business sense. Get your critical path trades (foundation, superstructure, electric, enclosure) done with pre-arranged partners, then put the remaining trades out to bid for local contractors. I could go on and on about John’s proposed “AEC moon shot” but you can view one of his recent presentations recorded at KA-Connect in Chicago to get a taste of his motivational techniques.

Conference Day 2

The second day of the conference was an extended panel presentation by a selected group of owners ranging from Target, to Worcester Polytech, to Sandia National Labs. To lead off the discussions, Karie Johnson from AEC Transormations spoke about her work in defining BIM requirement documents for owners. Johnson used a creative reference to the Dr. Seuss character Sam I Am as a segue to a ‘Should you? Would you? Could you?’ presentation about the do’s and don’ts of these types of documents. She has reviewed many documents and shared some really bad passages from them – definitely worth asking for a copy of her presentation for a good laugh.

Guillermo Salazar and Alfredo DiMauro from WPI spoke about their use of BIM on campus, which was somewhat similar to the afternoon talk delivered by Colleen Kasprzak and Ed Gannon from Penn State University. Here you have two organizations with enormous building asset portfolios who are starting to grasp the value of the information – the ‘I’ in BIM – as it relates to operating, managing and maintaining their facilities. One metric referenced by the Penn State presenters was that even a 10% improvement in the productivity of work orders would result in about $3 million dollars in annual savings.

Steven Wolf from Target spoke about his organizations plan to start implementing BIM for construction of new stores. Target’s design and construction process is almost completely based on a highly customized Bentley Microstation environment. Wolf stated that it was a challenge overcoming the strategic difference between the business leaders (“Exactly how are you going to measure your success?”) and the architects (“We like BIM because it’s cool!”) in developing an implementation plan. One interesting area of research they are pursuing is in the improvement of code reviews. Target spends $40-50 million a year in change orders associated with inconsistent interpretation of local building codes. In addition to working with the ICC on guidelines for replicable buildings, they are working with Avolve Software (makers of ProjectDox) on the development of ePlan review technology.

Finally, Birgitta Foster of Sandia National Labs closed the series of presentations with a look at the value of BIM for facilities management in what she calls “Design for Maintenance.” Foster shared some metrics in a similar thread to the earlier statements by Penn State and WPI. First, we were treated to some visual comparisons of mechanical equipment installed well and some not so well. What went wrong with the latter? Given simple, single-line diagrams and unrelated specifications instead of a 3D model and/or diagram, designers and engineers may leave real coordination up to the contractors in the field. Without an intense 3D understanding of a complex mechanical installation, a design team can unwittingly add to the lifetime cost of maintaining it. Foster offered a sample work order template form which indicated a number of hours to service a piece of equipment with “easy access” and double the hours for “hard access.”  It’s issues like these that can easily make the case for the requirement of BIM from the owners’ side and clearly delineate the place of the design team in coordinating the effort before construction.



The owners’ presentations were concluded with a lively panel discussion, which also included John Moebes from the previous day. Moebes was asking MEP engineers why they won’t do LOD400 models, citing the common response is that they assume being more specific would be costing the client money by avoiding a competitive bid. He argues otherwise, that he’d rather be able to efficiently procure a known system than rely on a field installation of a prescribed design.

An interesting take on implementation, particularly at larger organizations, is that amidst larger changes BIM can be the smallest diversion. One final note of interest to the A/E community is that a few references were made to organizations that are beginning to embrace how BIM can change the traditional design process. Ohio State reportedly will pay design fees earlier, but not necessarily more. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is willing to transfer some contingency costs to the design team if BIM is used to reduce some of the unknowns related to traditional methods. It’s all about speed, but at the same fee.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Reprieve #25

A short history of solar power in the White House:
- First installed by President Carter
- Removed by President Regan
- Added by President Bush (the second one) - to heat the water in the pool
- Augmented by President Obama to heat the White House's hot water supply.

Interesting take on sustainability.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

BIMForum Atlanta Day 1

So, I'm trying to beat Greg Arkin to the punch and be the first person to blog about the latest AGC BIMForum being held in Atlanta. Our first day featured a tour of Georgia Tech including Chuck Eastman's Digital Building Lab as well as a construction site tour of a new annex to the school of architecture by Beck Construction. Really great stuff! More details to come...




Friday, October 8, 2010

New UI or not new UI - that is the question

So, while I have no desire to wade into another discussion about the UI in Revit (I've actually grown to like the latest flavor) I saw the following in AUGI recently which I thought was worth noting.
One of the great things the iphone (and now iPad) did for the industry was to get rid of the notion of the stylus. Remember that little pencil that didn't write that you needed to have to use your Palm? Remember that you could never find it? Remember you could buy them in a 3-pack because they were so easy to loose?
Out with the stylus, in with the gesture. What a great way to manipulate data at a high level using a natural (more natural) motion.
How does this relate to Revit? Martin (real name withheld to protect the innocent) used a piece of shareware to bring gesturing to the Revit UI.
I'm not sure if I like it or don't but I applaud the concept and think it's a very very interesting way to look at how we interact in a ribbon-free world.
Creating gestures of different motions, visible on the screen, allow different context menus.
check it out on AUGI.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I'm speechless. Blown away by the clean lines and modest use of space.
I'm stunned by the deliberate order and discipline. None of sculptural blob making shit that's passing for well-considered design decisions.
In my humble opinion.
Looks like around 5ksf.
What? Even the kids have to share a bathroom?
Classic. So well done. More images via Gizmodo.
Thank you thank you thank you BCJ.
In an age of oversize-mcmansioned-mediocre-stuccoed-cobblestone-faux-crap that screams how money so seldom accounts for taste and elegance and quiet simplicity. You guys have taken the better path.
Thank you.
Architectural students take note.
You can actually practice architecture without turning into a "whateverputsmoremoneyinmypocketwhore" :)
There is still hope.
Fuck Peter Keating.
Long live Peter Bohlin.
Update: More info on Steve's casa via MacRumors

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Reprieve #24

I love the band Arcade Fire. And whatever you might think about Google, one of the things I like about them is that they are out there 'doing it'.

Enter the music video. Remember when MTV, back in the day, we so incredibly innovative because they put music on a TV? How rogue was that?

Well, now Google and Arcade Fire have gotten together to take it to the next level. Whatever you think of the music, the experience is awesome. From Google's standpoint, it's all about what you can do with their mapping applications and HTML5.

Just enter your home town and sit back.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ode to Fall

Down but not out in Paris:

A couple of dear friends of mine have taken an opportunity to spend some time abroad this fall. Their trip is mainly rooted in spending some time in Paris, but they are taking some day trips to the rest Europe at large.
As they are both architects (or almost, depending on exam results) they have that 'eye' that architects tend to see the world with. They have also committed to photo documentation of their trip for all of the rest of us who do not have the opportunity to join them.


Monday, September 20, 2010

AU 2010 - Let the games begin!

It's that time of year again.
68 days until Thanksgiving
96 days until Christmas
80 days until St. Nicholas Day (for all you St. Louisians out there with kids)
72 days until AU

Registration for AU began last week and some of the classes are already filled to the brim. If you haven't done so already, REGISTER!
All three of us are teaching classes this year:

Phil: Into the Void: The Zen of Creating Complex Sculptural forms with Revit.

James: Advanced Techniques for Curtain Walls, Curtain Panels, and Adaptive Components in Autodesk Revit (offered at 2 times) and
BIM and IPD for Project Leaders

Eddy: Project Managing BIM and Daylighting Analysis with Revit and 3ds Max Design

Beyond just the priceless knowledge you can attain attending classes at AU, the new City Center is complete showcasing design talent by several A-list designers and some unreal living sculptures. Like this one of huge ice 'popsicle' that melt and are re-created.

Also, keep an eye on the blog in the upcoming weeks. We have a bit of an announcement to make for possible fun and festivities during the AU week.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Friday Reprieve #23

Avast ye!
Sunday is National Talk Like a Pirate Day.
While that's not parametric or has anything to do with BIM or Revit, it's an opportunity for all the black-wearing architects out there to don an eye patch and get their pirate on.

Some suggestions for those of you who might be working this weekend. Perhaps instead of your wimpy responses to Revit when it does something you don't want it to do, you could incorporate a bit of the olde pirate slang. Let me give you an example:
Revit for some reason known only to Revit, crashes on you. A typical architect, wearing his / her black ensemble might respond "well, gosh darn it. there goes 4 hours of work. Sorry Revit for whatever I screwed up for you. Let me sip this white wine spritzer while I wait for you to reload my project."
Instead perhaps you can try "Swing a lead, Revit you olde dog! Be doin' that again and I'll drive my blade into ye I will!!" then take a swig of your home brewed rum.

Hey, those are only suggestions.
At the end of the day remember what my studio professor once told me:
"it's not important if your glass is 1/2 empty or 1/2 full, but what is important is that your glass is refillable."


Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Reprieve – NFL Edition

This weekend marks the kickoff of the 2010-2011 football season – yes, AMERICAN football! We don’t need no stinkin’ vuvuzelas! To commemorate this glorious time of year, I offer a humorous Team-by-Team NFL preview guide by the one and only…Onion Sports Network.

Click here to read the article



Friday, September 3, 2010

Blue Sky

I took this photo on the last day I worked for Autodesk back in May of 2008. After more than 7 amazing years of playing for the same team, I found myself flying back to Charlotte and quite honestly - more than a bit anxious about what the future would hold. But what suddenly occurred and caused me to snap the above photo (with my jail broken and unlocked, T-Mobile powered iPhone, ahem...) is that above any clouds of uncertainty, there are always clear blue skies of opportunity.

Simply put: the view is always clearer above the clouds.

So it seems fitting that I use this image to announce that I'm moving on from HNTB. It's certainly bittersweet. Yet those that have come to know me best wisely reminded me long ago that I'm too impatient and non-conforming to be a corporate lifer. Thank you. I bow to your Buddha nature. :)

It's been an amazing, learning and deeply satisfying experience. In little more than 2 years a firm wide BIM strategy and team is in place that in my opinion is the most advanced and experienced group I've ever known. Their commitment to Design Build in every way exceeds my expectations of what is possible when a design firm partners with select contractors to build buildings rather than simply create drawings.

Rather than be content to see what the market will decide, HNTB leads the market. Their vision and commitment to creating compelling and new technologies in order to leverage BIM is extraordinary. As a result, what we did in days takes others weeks if not months. And what we did in months I believe will take others years - by which time HNTB will have moved on. The incredible value this brings to a Design Build is light-years ahead of any competition. The leadership is sharply minded and focused. And as far as I could tell only one or two were merely sharply elbowed and dressed. :)

I wish I could tell you what's next but I honestly don't know! I've already had some interesting and unsolicited phone calls. Seems the whisper of the Internet is like the roar of a lion. But I've been fortunate to the point that I don't have to commit to anything for a while. At the same time, I'm incredibly blessed that some pretty interesting people have already offered to fly me somewhere for a few days to compare notes. So that's cool.

What's interesting?

Domesticity. Apple. Strategic, holistic and elegant solutions. Integrating Design (BIM) / Build (Manufacturing) / Management (FM). Connecting dots and being a change agent. Finishing my pilot's license. Completing an addition to the house. Helping author another book or two, including Mastering Revit 2012. The Annapolis boat show. Sailing with the family. Drinks with friends. Autodesk University. Twitter. Blogging.

Could I be interested in a Revit project or two? Possibly. But only if it's extremely interesting (Apple Stores...cough...Revit... cough...Design Build...cough ;). Or along the lines of an unimaginably large, complex, project and more than likely somewhere in Australiasia. And Singapore is always a plus!

So if you know of something really, really interesting - let me know. But only if it's surrounded by sharper minds than elbows. :)

What's next?

Blue sky. Or perhaps it's more of a Blue Ocean ;)