Posts Tagged ‘CAD


BIMStorm Coming to Your City?

Los Angeles

BIM is of course Building Information Modeling, and here’s how it became a storm. In Cadalyst, Kenneth Wong reports on how 133 participants tested a hunk of technology called OPS, short for Onuma Planning System, also known as a “Web-based BIM collaboration platform.” And what a platform it is. In virtual attendance from Japan, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Canada, Mexico and the U.S., this group took on the challenge of re-inventing 60 square blocks of Los Angeles. They answered the question of what would happen if, as Wong puts it,

…a bunch of idealistic architects, designers, building owners, contractors, and consultants decided to do away with the professional hierarchies, business protocols, and legal constraints that have long prevented them from working together? What if they converged on a destination and simply spent the day exchanging ideas about the high-rises, hospitals, firehouses, and schools they envision building there?

BIMStorm LA, as the event was officially dubbed, was the brainstorm of Pasadena architect Kimon Onuma. It was a case of technology in search of an application, the technology being Saas, or software-as-a-service, which was developed by Onuma’s company and named OPS. We’re talking about open, interoperable data standards, meaning the players could come in with ArchiCAD, Autodesk Revit, VectorWorks, or any number of other programs that operate under Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) standards.

This was the super-stoked collaboration track, nicknamed the Woodstock of BIM, because the idea behind it was to shake loose from the old ways and throw everybody together into one big sandbox to be as playful and inventive as they wanted — not only architects and engineers, but code reviewers, specialists in Leed certification, green consultants, and structural analysts. After a 24-hour Internet session, conducted in real time with no lag, 420 virtual buildings had been created over 54,755,153 square feet of territory.

One enthusiastic participant was analyst Karen Weber, who specializes in green roofs. Although energy-modeling BIM software is fully aware of solar panels, it doesn’t seem to have caught up with the concept of green roofs, to Weber’s regret. She’s excited about hybrid roofs — the combination of green plantings with solar panels. Roofs get hot, as hot as 200 degrees, and she’d like to see those solar panels, which function best in the high 70s, to have plants for company, to cool them off. The green roof not only looks nice, but saves, she says, lots of money over the life of the building because of several factors.

How will all these green roofs be watered? Weber has a plan for that, too. The area of the architects’ and planners’ imaginary playground would contain around 300 fire hydrants. Their annual flushing wastes millions of gallons of water, which she would like to see gathered, stored in cisterns, and sent up to the green roofs. And why not? Cities are certainly crying out for ways to do many things better, including the conservation of resources.

Another participant, Jeffrey Ouellette of VectorWorks, said,

It’s a really interesting exercise. You can find out relatively quickly how feasible it is to build two 20-story buildings instead of a single 40-story building on a site very early in the design process. A lot of architects struggle with that early design stage because they need to get the feedback, the data, that really matters, in a timely fashion.

Going by the evidence of BimStorm’s own website it appears to have designs on several more cities. One comment notes that the old ways have been proven to cause a built-in wastage of 30% of the professionals’ time and energy before construction on a project even begins. People are liking this idea of real-time collaboration that can bring problems to light before they even become problems. One even proposes the radical idea that, in many cases, the best solution would be not to build.

Comments from BIMStorm participants verge on sounding like religious conversion or falling in love — this thing is rocking their world, and they want more. Urged ahead by the visionary Onuma, they want the future to come faster, which will happen when everybody in the industry gets on board this thing.

SOURCE: ” The Summer of BIM ” 04/01/08
photo courtesy of olasisucsd , used under this Creative Commons license


The Current Concerns of Peter Eisenman

At the recent RIAS 2008 (Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland) gathering, Peter Eisenman was a keynote speaker. The thoughts he shared with the convention were organized into six major points, as recapitulated in a transcript at bdonline. Eisenman is known as one of the “New York Five” and, philosophically, as a “deconstructionist,” whose career has been problematic in some ways. In this speech, he makes a point about the widespread media craze for polls and popularity contests, a point which has been made by theorists in fields other than architecture:

Vote for this, vote for whatever stories you want to hear, vote for what popular song you want to hear, vote for what commercial you want to see. This voting gives the appearance of active participation, but it is merely another form of sedation because the voting is irrelevant. It is part of the attempt to make people believe they are participating when in fact they are becoming more and more passive.

He warns that people, especially students, have become increasingly non-participatory, content to just lie back and let their sensoria be flooded by tides of images. This is particularly dangerous in the case of students because it is the young to whom we look for the fresh ideas and the massive amount of energy it takes to effect changes in society. But now, terrible things are going on all over the globe, and students are inert.

Eisenman seems concerned by the ubiquity of media, and its inseparable intertwining with human endeavors at the most mundane level, to the point where people have almost become extensions of their own computers. He sees this as the cause of a widespread societal epidemic of Attention Deficit Disorder, causing the inability to focus or concentrate on anything for more that a short time. Irrelevant information keeps multiplying, he feels, while genuine communication shrinks. In his view, architecture must resort to “more and more spectacular imaging” to counter this trend.

But, speaking of spectacular imaging, what about computer-aided design? Well, it seems that Eisenman thinks computers have a deleterious effect on design standards. There is a connection between what the hand does and what the brain learns, which he feels is being broken when students no longer draw with actual tools on actual paper. He goes so far as to say that computers are great for those who don’t want to think, an assertion that would surely be disputed by any student burning the midnight oil, trying to wrap her head around the latest software package. But his own students, he says, are no longer able to draw a simple diagram or plan, and this bodes no good for the future of architecture as a whole.

He goes on to discuss the difference between icons, symbols, and indices, and what the difference means in terms of real-world applications. He references the work of C. S. Peirce, explaining what is meant by the concept of the “decorated shed.” For some reason, which may or may not lay responsibility at the door of the CAD revolution, Eisenman sees a loss of values in architecture, resulting in an inability to judge.

He sees some importance in sorting out what phase architecture currently resides in, relative to its other phases both past and future. The phase architecture is in now, he says, is a period of late style, which contains no new paradigm, but represents the end of a historic cycle. Quoting Edward Said, he sees late style as, “A moment not of fate or hopelessness but one that contains a possibility of looking at a great style for the possibility of the new and the transformative.”

Eisenman goes on to reflect on the relationship between the part and the whole: the building is related to the site, which is related to the street, the immediate neighborhood, and the whole city. He concludes that to be an architect is a social act, and that this engagement with society is what needs to be concentrated on now.

(Pictured: one view of Eisenman’s “Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe”)

SOURCE: ” Eisenman’s six point plan ” 05/14/08
photo courtesy of Wolfgang Staudt , used under this Creative Commons license


The Importance of the BIM Manager in a Firm


A veteran of Autodesk and Intergraph, and now President and CEO at Graphisoft, Dominic Gallello recently contributed an article to AECbytes outlining the reasons why he sees the BIM Manager as a vital figure on the staff of any architectural firm. Graphisoft is of course the home of ArchiCAD, one of the most respected design software tools for architects. One of Gallello’s concerns is that Building Information Modeling tools are perceived as all-powerful and self-managing, when actually there is a very real need for human supervision. He says:

Is there a difference between a CAD Manager and a BIM Manager? Yes! …While a CAD Manager would have focused on layering standards and plotting issues, the BIM manager must determine how models from consulting engineers are coordinated with the architectural model, who owns which geometry, who references geometry, how the parts are integrated, and at what interval they will be synchronized and checked for conflicts.

Gallello explains that a CAD Manager is trained to think linearly and, while that is not a bad thing, a BIM Manager thinks of the whole project at once, all the time, rather than step by step. This is because all the building data are interconnected in such a way that when one thing changes, every other area changes too. Standards need to be kept in place and adhered to globally.

BIM management calls for multi-disciplinary thinking, and the person who’s doing it is an integral member of the project team, not just a supporter and provider of tools used by others. BIM methodology encompasses structural and HVAC design, energy analysis, and many more specialties and ties them all together in a smoothly integrated way.

In Architectural Graphic Standards, 11th Edition, there is an excellent chapter on Building Information Modeling, in the Computing Technologies section. It begins with a starkly basic definition:

A data model in any given domain describes the attributes of the entities in that domain, as well as how these entities are related to each other.

What does it take to be a competent BIM Manager? Gallello hits several points, starting with an understanding of all the various project workflows, and a grasp of the needs of the various needs of the delivery team members including architects, engineers, contractors and estimators. Of course the BIM manager needs complete technical know-how, along with a number of “soft” skills such as training, coaching, and communicating – especially when it comes to making all the team members aware of exactly how much benefit is in it for them.

The person holding this position should also be prepared to travel anywhere, any time, to meet the needs of a company with far-flung branches. And she or he must have a cool head that lends the ability to make good decisions in time of crisis.

Understandably, a firm that has previously only had experience with CAD Managers might not want to rush right out and hire the first BIM Manager who comes whistling down the road. Gallello suggests a measured approach, and recommends hiring an independent consultant, and then maybe another consultant for the next project, until the company gets a feel for what this person is, and what she or he should be doing.

Another thing he recommends is for an architect who is familiar with and enthusiastic about BIM technology to be teamed with others who are not so familiar, so the confidence can rub off. He calls this an “inoculation process” that a firm will probably go through before settling comfortably into the newly-formed universe and bringing a permanent BIM manager onto the staff.

It would be mighty interesting to hear from anyone who has made the career change from CAD Manager to BIM Manager. How goes it?

SOURCE: ” The New “Must Have”-The BIM Manager ” 01/17/08
photo courtesy of rucativava , used under this Creative Commons license


CAD Market Prospects Considered

CAD model

On the Cadalyst website, Kenneth Wong asks, “Can CAD Market Grow in an Economic Downturn?” and then goes on to interpret and place into context raw data from the Jon Peddie Research Special Report, a collection of facts and figures which describes itself thus:

The 2008 CAD Report is a detailed report that looks specifically at the CAD market. It includes information on worldwide CAD software revenues, market share, and information about the user base. The market looks at the industry from the two major subsets of Mechanical/Manufacturing and AEC (Architecture, Electrical, and Construction). The report also includes a section on CAD for the Mac and Process and Power. It breaks out the relative share of the market for Architecture, MCAD, Process and Power, Civil, GIS/Mapping, and other.

What, you may ask, does the “Computer-Aided Design and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM)” chapter of Architectural Graphic Standards, 11th Edition have to say about all this? The chapter, by Kimo Griggs and Kenneth Kao, starts with a simple definition and then elaborates:

The digital design technologies associated with CAD/CAM range from simple two-dimensional (2D) drawing to sophisticated three-dimensional (3D) solid parametric modeling programs…The ability to extend the use of digital design models, particularly 3D models, beyond design visualization into design development, engineering, manufacturing, and then into facilities management, enables designers to explore ideas and provide solutions in ways that were previously inconceivable.

And this is not only wonderful, but inevitable. Still, many AEC professionals are asking themselves, and the experts on their payroll, questions about the future of this technology and especially about its profitability. According to a recent report, Africa’s demand for engineering applications software increased by 8% in 2007, over the previous year. This news comes from Cambashi, another research and analysis consulting firm that specializes in engineering and enterprise applications. Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia and Libya together (collectively known as the Mahgreb) account for a third of all the demand for engineering applications software that stems from Africa, as well as a large share of the architecture and construction software, which are all tending to pretty much flow together as time goes on. Egypt is also an enthusiastic consumer of engineering applications. On another page, we find information from Cambashi about the United Arab Emirates, which also uses engineering applications in a big way. In the UAE, three-quarters of the software demand is for the kind that serves the engineering, construction, and architecture fields. This is compared to the rest of the world, where purchases applicable to those fields make up only 38% of the software market.

After posing the very relevant question of whether the CAD market can grow, Kenneth Wong asks another one:

So how are the IT managers and CAD managers bracing for the inevitable economic slump? Some think loosening the purse strings for well-timed training and well-placed technology might help tighten their companies’ operating margins.

It’s obvious that the computers and the people are only two factors in the equation. Industrial firms need an infrastructure to employ IT effectively, and that base needs to meld CAD visualization and information management. One of the trends noted by the Jon Peddie Research Special Report is “a significant shift taking place as smaller businesses are investing in new technologies.” Stepping into the next phase of technological progress is definitely not just for the big boys. Another emerging trend is an emphasis on training in such vital areas as building information modeling. One of the experts Wong talked with for his article noted that, over the past five years, the main growth he has seen is in the upgrading of 2D licenses to their related 3D systems. This CAD management consultant, Robert Green, also says,

“Examine your processes and fix the problems you find so you can squeeze every little bit of productivity from your existing staff. To the extent that CAD/IT tools support these goals, make the investments. If training to achieve better standards compliance and process control supports these goals, then do so.”

So – given all this – can the CAD market grow in an economic downturn?

SOURCE: “Can CAD Market Grow in an Economic Downturn?” 04/07/08
photo courtesy of AmyMEmeME , used under this Creative Commons license


AGS Case Study: Restoring 215 Fremont Street, San Francisco, California

215 Fremont San Francisco

The venerable L-shaped industrial building had been around since 1927, and had suffered badly in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, and then stood empty for a decade. Its rebirth is described in “Renovated Office Building at 215 Fremont Street, San Francisco California,” one of the case studies detailed in Architectural Graphic Standards, 11th Edition, from the American Institute of Architects, published by WILEY. The piece was written by four of the participants: James Kellogg, AIA, HOK; Lynn Filar, HOK; and Navinchandra R. Amin, SE and Vivian L. K. Wan, PE, both of Middlebrook + Louie.

The team that took on the revival of 215 Fremont faced real challenges. A large part of the project consisted of figuring out just what they were dealing with, hindered by the fact that many of the original drawings were either missing or indecipherable. When the nitty-gritty evaluation phase started, some unpleasant facts turned up. For example:

Since the original construction, the building had experienced differential settlements of up to 5 inches. Core samples and dynamic load tests of the existing floor slabs provided data necessary to evaluate the viability of components of the existing structure…

A large part of the evaluation process consisted of cranking up ETABS and SAP 2000, respected CAD programs that together gave a picture of how nicely the building would work and play with gravity and seismic loading. The prognosis wasn’t good. For starters, an earthquake would turn the ground beneath 215 Fremont into soup. How would they get this thing to stay up? Equally important was the need to satisfy ever-evolving building codes. We’ll let them tell it:

A new structural system needed to be developed for the project that would be sufficiently stiff to alleviate the induced internal forces in the existing floor slabs and punched exterior walls. Additionally, the structural system needed to use the full length and width of the structure to minimize the seismic overturning forces applied to the foundation…

As often happens, necessity gave birth to invention, and an elegant, innovative solution was arrived at.

This retrofit of an early twentieth century building led to the creation of a unique connection between steel braces and concrete columns, as a combination structural system comprised of steel-brace, frame-and-concrete shear walls was developed to meet all critical requirements.

The article explains exactly, and in great detail, how the team did it. And that’s not all. Every bit of 215 Fremont was remade into a paragon of sustainability and a fully compliant respecter of seismic requirements. What had once been basement storage space was now a much-needed parking facility. From bottom to top, from the new pedestrian-friendly retail arcade to the attractive rooftop terraces, the whole edifice was transformed. Impressed, the Structural Engineers Association of California gave the building its coveted Excellence in Structural Engineering Award.

215 Fremont, later also known as the Charles Schwab building and the Emporis building, was a showpiece as its neighborhood morphed into the happening “multimedia gulch.” When the project was finished in early 2001, a major corporation immediately occupied the entire building. The renovators had successfully made a statement: the cultural tone of the whole area had been elevated.

But any project of this kind also raises disturbing questions about the ultimate futility, in the event of catastrophic emergency, of even the strictest building codes.

SOURCE: “Renovated Office Building at 215 Fremont Street, San Francisco California” 2007
Photo courtesy of WILEY by Michael O’Callahan